View Full Version : Buying my first "proper" telescope

2010-Sep-07, 12:50 PM
I have been researching many different types of telescope for a while now, I'm nearly ready to buy! :) I would be really grateful if anyone could give me some advice on what would be advisable to get or what to look out for, i will link to a couple of scopes I've been thinking of, any comments or advice is greatly appreciated. I'm 18 and have roughly 600 to spend, although it would have to last me a very long time if I was to spend that amount!
Thanks again for any help


2010-Sep-07, 06:29 PM
Those are three quite different telescopes. For a beginner I'd rule out the 12" Dob. Just too much telescope for a beginner. Like learning to drive in a formula 1 racer.

8" is far more appropriate.

Have you been to a star party to try out the difference between an equatorial mount and a Dobsonian mount? The Dob mount is far more stable and intuitive to use. Just point it where you want to look. Equatorial will be a lot shakier in even a light hardly noticed breeze and continue to shake for a bit when you focus or make a minor move of the scope. I prefer electric focus on a basic equatorial mount. Heavy duty mounts are fine but cost far more than your budget. Of the three the Dob would probably suit more beginners but each is different so going with the "most" may not be right for you.

Be sure to budget for additional items like a good star atlas, red LED light (variable), 10x50 binoculars if you don't already have them, and at least one more eyepiece plus a good quality barlow. Choosing both so as to give an appropriate power range without duplication. These are virtual necessities not just nice to have. I also don't like the 30mm finder. I consider 50mm the minimum for an 8" scope. In fact I find a Telrad far more useful than a 30mm finder.

I'd try to attend at least one star party before buying anything. You'll learn more there in one night than in years of reading ads and web page reviews. The vast majority of our club members who buy then attend star parties quickly learn that while their scope may be good, it isn't right for them and leave kicking themselves they didn't attend before buying. Even if you have to drive 250km it is still well worth the effort. Hands on use of many different telescopes is a real eye opener.


2010-Sep-07, 06:52 PM
The only thing that I disagree with RickJ about is that I don't think that a 12" is a bad choice for a beginner.

That said, I strongly urge you to take RickJ's advice and go to a few star parties and get a feel for the various telescopes. Actually using a telescope is far better than thinking about using one.

I also assume that you have started out by using just binoculars, a planisphere, and a book like Terrence Dickenson's 'Night Watch'. With the telescopes that you are considering, learning the night sky in this manner first is as critical to successful use of your telescope as anything else.

Good luck and clear skies.

2010-Sep-07, 08:45 PM
I have got the planisphere, binoculars and many many nights staring to the skys, but I'm looking to take it a bit further. That seems like great advice to go to a star party! I will have a long look and try to find something relatively close. Thanks for the advice about the eyepiece, barlow and the mounts I hadn't accounted for them.

2010-Sep-08, 04:49 AM
I've watched the beginners in our club, hundreds of them over 50 years and ALL who started above 10" never progressed very far. They were always "Lost in Space" trying to find a particular galaxy they'd find 8 in the field and ask which is the 'right one". Then too they never seemed to train their eye and brain to get the most out of their telescopes. For instance nearly all who started at 12" never could see the horsehead or other large, faint objects that those starting small easily see in say a 4" telescope. If they'd work on the really faint stuff they'd be fine but with the riches of many bright things the ability to see the faint low contrast stuff never develops like it should. In fact the best observers in our club started at 60mm to 75mm! Though those that started at 6" weren't far behind. Even those starting at 8" never seemed to quite be able to do what those starting smaller did. Most starting at 12" or larger left the hobby within 2 years. Frustrated they couldn't see what others with smaller scopes could.

Our club offers loaner scopes to members still saving up for their scope that range from 4" to 13". Many a beginner asks to get checked out with the 13" right off. They soon return it asking for the 4".

Obviously there's going to be some that survive starting large. I hear from them all the time but can't judge their skills since they aren't members I view with. I just have to go by the several hundred I've seen go through the club and go by their experience. I've had many tell me getting the large scope as a beginner was a mistake, none have told me they were glad they started big. We have scopes up to 30" in the club used by those starting much smaller. They are used effectively. I'm just talking the first scope stepping up from binoculars.


2010-Oct-08, 02:38 AM
-When purchasing a telescope, I recommend taking the darkness of your skies into account. Unless you will regularly visit significantly dark skies, a diameter greater than about 8" won't actually receive the light it was designed to deal with. I like in Kentucky, USA, in a small city. The third one-- the 8" dob-- looks like a great idea.

2010-Oct-15, 06:19 PM
I have been using an OO SPX250 for a few years, and find it to be a good scope. OO makes good optics for both newts and cassegrains. I suspect that their 200 series newt will be a good place to start. If you enjoy using it, you can upgrade to one of their larger newts, or move to one of the cassegrains and a GEM.