Are bright stars, mys­te­ri­ous celes­tial bod­ies and the vast expans­es of space beck­on­ing? You are not alone: ​​we are also fas­ci­nat­ed by the star­ry sky. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, with ordi­nary human vision, lit­tle can be seen. If you want to start explor­ing the sky at mul­ti­ple mag­ni­fi­ca­tions, our rec­om­men­da­tions for choos­ing a tele­scope will come in handy. This opti­cal device has many tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics that a begin­ner can­not under­stand, but after read­ing our arti­cle, you will be able to choose a suit­able tele­scope for your­self (or as a gift).

Pho­to: pixabay.com

Which telescope to choose for a beginner, and what to consider

Nat­u­ral­ly, you need to choose the tele­scope that is right for your tasks, even if it is not the most advanced. Under­stand­ing the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of the tele­scope will help the novice “astronomer” to decide.


It defines the diam­e­ter of the lens. This para­me­ter is very impor­tant for each tele­scope: the col­lec­tion of the light flux by a lens or a mir­ror depends on the aper­ture. The high­er the val­ue, the more light pass­es through the lens and the bet­ter the image qual­i­ty. With a good aper­ture, the weak glows of the most dis­tant celes­tial bod­ies are more eas­i­ly cap­tured.

When choos­ing a tele­scope, the aper­ture is select­ed tak­ing into account exact­ly how the begin­ner plans to use the device:

— For greater clar­i­ty of near­by stars, plan­ets and satel­lites, aper­ture is suit­able up to 150 mm. If you are observ­ing in an urban envi­ron­ment, it is bet­ter to stop at 70–90 mm.

— If you are going to dive deep­er into astron­o­my, look­ing at dis­tant bod­ies, you need a lens diam­e­ter from 200 mm.

— For peo­ple who are seri­ous about astron­o­my and are going to use the tele­scope out­side the city, more expen­sive semi-pro­fes­sion­al lens­es with an aper­ture will do up to 400 mm.

Focal length

The para­me­ter deter­mines the dis­tance between two points: the lens (mir­ror) and the place where the rays con­verge. The val­ue of the para­me­ter affects how far you can “look” into the sky. The opti­mal focal length for begin­ners is 700mm.

Ama­teur tele­scopes are quite com­pact and do not take up much space in the house. Pho­to: pixnio.com

The main thing when buy­ing a tele­scope is not to rely only on the focal length. The same when using dif­fer­ent lens­es, it gives a dif­fer­ent result. Begin­ners should not chase this char­ac­ter­is­tic, it is not a key one.

Optical design

This is the name of the method of dis­play­ing space objects with a tele­scope. In oth­er words, the opti­cal design is a kind of astronomer’s eye. There are two main cat­e­gories: reflec­tors and refrac­tors. The lat­ter have lens optics and are dis­tin­guished by ease of oper­a­tion, clar­i­ty and low price.

The reflex opti­cal scheme is mir­ror optics. She needs a more “rev­er­ent” atti­tude, and she also costs more.

Zoom ratio

This char­ac­ter­is­tic is indi­vid­ual for each device and may vary. The cal­cu­la­tion for­mu­la is ele­men­tary: focal length / eye­piece focus. When the lat­ter is changed, the approx­i­ma­tion mul­ti­plic­i­ty also changes.

Begin­ners and ama­teurs often make a com­mon mis­take when choos­ing tele­scopes with max­i­mum mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. In fact, an indi­ca­tor from 20x to 100x is quite enough.

Mount type

This is the name of the stand for the tele­scope, which deter­mines how con­ve­nient it will be to use it. The most com­mon types of mounts are:

one. Azimuth. The sim­plest design, you can move the device in all direc­tions. Most often, inex­pen­sive tele­scopes are equipped with it. For tele­scope mod­els that take pho­tos or videos, the azimuth mount is not suit­able. It will not be able to cap­ture a clear image.

2. Equa­to­r­i­al. It has more impres­sive dimen­sions and weight. With its help, you can find the celes­tial bod­ies you are inter­est­ed in at the giv­en coor­di­nates. A good option for reflect­ing tele­scopes to work with dis­tant objects. The best choice for pho­to or video shoot­ing of space.

3. Dob­son sys­tem. This is a cross between the oth­er two mounts. Most­ly pow­er­ful and expen­sive opti­cal devices are equipped with such stands.

Azimuth mount is the best choice for a first tele­scope. Pho­to: wikimedia.org

What telescope to buy for beginners: basic recommendations

Choos­ing a tele­scope is a dif­fi­cult task, espe­cial­ly for begin­ners who are not yet famil­iar with this tech­nique. Experts advise tak­ing into account sev­er­al basic cri­te­ria (we have already talked about some of them), we have col­lect­ed these rec­om­men­da­tions in a con­ve­nient table:

For whom Aper­ture, mm Cat­e­go­ry mount
For begin­ners who observe the night sky with­in the city 70–90 Short focus refrac­tors Dob­son / Azimuthal
For begin­ners who go out to look at the stars out­side the city 110–250 reflec­tors Dob­son­ian sys­tem
For those who study the galaxy From 250 reflec­tors Dob­son / Azimuthal
For trav­el­ers and just active peo­ple who car­ry a tele­scope with them Depend­ing on tasks mir­ror lens tele­scope Dob­son / Azimuthal
For the more advanced who pre­fer tak­ing pho­tos and/or videos From 400 Cata­diop­tric tele­scope with a focus of at least 1000 mm Dob­son / equa­to­r­i­al

Common Mistakes When Choosing a Telescope

one. The more mul­ti­plic­i­ty, the bet­ter. The biggest mis­take. In fact, every­thing is not so: a lot depends on the aper­ture and con­di­tions for using the tele­scope. If you are in the begin­ner cat­e­go­ry, don’t go for high mul­ti­plic­i­ty. To observe dis­tant objects requires cer­tain train­ing and skills. If you want to study the Moon and the plan­ets of the solar sys­tem, 100x is enough for you.

2. Buy­ing a reflect­ing tele­scope or a large refrac­tor to use in urban areas. Mir­ror tele­scopes, or reflec­tors, are too sen­si­tive to atmos­pher­ic fluc­tu­a­tions and the influ­ence of sur­round­ing light sources (lanterns, illu­mi­na­tion of build­ings — archi­tec­tur­al mon­u­ments, light from indus­tri­al enter­pris­es). Accord­ing­ly, they are dif­fi­cult to use with­in the city (and this is sim­ply imprac­ti­cal). Lens mod­els (refrac­tors) with a large aper­ture are equipped with a long tube, so they will have to be used on an unglazed or very spa­cious bal­cony, oth­er­wise it will be incon­ve­nient.

3. Pur­chase of the first tele­scope with an equa­to­r­i­al stand. Such a mount requires cer­tain skills in han­dling the tele­scope. It is dif­fi­cult to learn, so a begin­ner may not under­stand. It is bet­ter to start with an azimuth mount or at least a Dob­son­ian mount.

four. Use of expen­sive eye­pieces. If you are a begin­ner and have pur­chased an inex­pen­sive tele­scope, it is not advis­able to buy pro­fes­sion­al eye­pieces for it. Such a deci­sion will neg­a­tive­ly affect the qual­i­ty of the image.

Top Best Telescope Brands for Beginners

Var­i­ous com­pa­nies offer opti­cal equip­ment for observ­ing celes­tial bod­ies. The list of the best and most famous includes:

sky-watch­er. A Cana­di­an brand that has been around for over 40 years. The com­pa­ny pro­duces a dozen lines of tele­scopes for dif­fer­ent bud­gets.

Veber. The tech­nique of the Russ­ian com­pa­ny, which has exist­ed since the 90s, occu­pies a lead­ing posi­tion in the rat­ings of tele­scopes for begin­ners due to inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies and a large selec­tion of mod­els.

Bress­er. A Ger­man com­pa­ny that pro­vides tele­scopes of var­i­ous cat­e­gories.

Lev­en­huk. On account of this brand, a lot of the lat­est lines of tele­scopes, includ­ing for begin­ners.

Cele­stron. An Amer­i­can brand that has exist­ed for over 50 years. The com­pa­ny’s prod­ucts are famous for their inno­v­a­tive tech­ni­cal solu­tions and take the top places in the rat­ings.

Rating of inexpensive telescopes for beginners

Veber UMKA 76/300

One of the most bud­getary (up to 5 thou­sand) tele­scopes for begin­ner astronomers. It has a clas­sic lay­out, a New­ton reflec­tor and a Dob­son­ian mount. With com­pact dimen­sions (tube length — 30 cm, diam­e­ter — 7.6 cm), the tele­scope seems child­ish. In fact, 15x mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is enough to focus on many not-so-dis­tant objects even in day­light.

Sky-Watcher BK 707AZ2

Com­pact achro­mat­ic refract­ing tele­scope. Rec­om­mend­ed for begin­ner astronomers. With it, you can observe many plan­ets of the solar sys­tem. Due to its small size, the tele­scope can be eas­i­ly moved from place to place. Sky-Watch­er BK 707AZ2 is made of qual­i­ty mate­ri­als and is quite com­fort­able. The 7 cm achro­mat­ic lens pro­vides high-qual­i­ty and clear images with min­i­mal chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions.

At a price of less than 18,000 rubles, the Sky-Watch­er BK 707AZ2 tele­scope looks con­vinc­ing. Pho­to: fotosklad.ru

Levenhuk Skyline Travel 80

Anoth­er small and light refract­ing tele­scope. It has clar­i­fied optics and is suit­able for both novice astronomers and more advanced ama­teurs. Porta­bil­i­ty and ease of set­up are impor­tant advan­tages of this instru­ment. Users pos­i­tive­ly eval­u­ate high-qual­i­ty col­or repro­duc­tion. To unleash the full poten­tial of this tele­scope, it is bet­ter to look into it out­side the city with­out flare. Lev­en­huk Sky­line Trav­el 80 costs about 20,000 rubles.

Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ

A pop­u­lar and fair­ly pow­er­ful tele­scope, char­ac­ter­ized by high-qual­i­ty assem­bly, good opti­cal com­po­nent and reli­a­bil­i­ty. With it, you will get clear images of var­i­ous celes­tial bod­ies, includ­ing very dis­tant ones. The tele­scope has find­ers that have been mod­i­fied to make it eas­i­er to focus on a tar­get. There are also quick-release mounts that look like a dove­tail.

A com­pact and inex­pen­sive opti­cal device will delight all astron­o­my lovers: you can look at the stars and oth­er celes­tial bod­ies actu­al­ly live. The main thing is just to choose the right mod­el of the tele­scope. We hope that our rec­om­men­da­tions will help you with this.


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