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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.