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obiwankanathan
2003-Feb-24, 11:13 PM
I may be getting a telescope in the near future and I'm wondering if $500 will buy a decent one. It doesn't have to be a great telescope, but I don't want a cheap one either. If you know of any, could you tell me what they are? Thanks.

aurorae
2003-Feb-24, 11:50 PM
On 2003-02-24 18:13, obiwankanathan wrote:
I may be getting a telescope in the near future and I'm wondering if $500 will buy a decent one. It doesn't have to be a great telescope, but I don't want a cheap one either. If you know of any, could you tell me what they are? Thanks.


Yes, you can get decent telescopes for less than $500. But there are different kinds of telescopes, and they have different strengths and weaknesses. Do some reading first, visit a local astronomy club and ask lots of questions.

The choice comes down to tradeoffs between cost, portability, size (ability to gather light), optical quality, and electronics.

Here's a page from the BA on getting started:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bitesize/scopefaq.html

Sky and Telescope has some good intro material:
http://skyandtelescope.com/howto/scopes/default.asp

Russ
2003-Feb-25, 12:24 AM
Welcome to the BABB Obi. May I echo the idea that you find your nearest astronomy club and attend a few star gazes. You don't say where you are from so I don't know how difficult that will be for you. Getting out and actually looking at and through various scopes REALLY HELPS.

Us astronomy types are exceptionally friendly and are more than willing to show off our hardware to anybody dumb enough, I mean smart enough to ask. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif I'm particularly partial to the Meade LX-200 series of catadioptric scopes but then they are way more than $500 and I'm just a bigot anyway. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

RMallon
2003-Feb-25, 12:37 AM
http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~rhill/alpo/clublinks.html

http://astroplace.com/amateurs/clubs.asp

The above links have quite a number of listed astronomy clubs here in the U.S. and around the world.

Dickenmeyer
2003-Feb-25, 03:56 AM
There are a number of quality scopes to be had in the $500 range. You should really try to heed the advice to attend a star party and look through some scopes if you can. You can probably still find a copy of Sky & Telescope's annual SKYWATCH '03 on your better stocked newsstands, it has a very comprehensive buyer's guide section to scopes under $1000 and a list of addresses, phone numbers and websites for the manufacturers. I used SKYWATCH as a jumping off point for my search for my new scope, which finally arrived two weeks ago and will allow me to retire my o-l-d 3 inch POS reflector. You even have a variety of scope types for the price you're shopping in, from 80mm to 120mm short-tube refractors to 102mm maksutovs to 6 or even 8 inch newtonian dobs. Read up, shop around, just steer clear of those department store "trash scopes" that advertise 650X magnification and the like. They usually suffer from poor quality control, inferior eyepieces and cheap rickety mounts and are NOT worth your time and money. A good local dealer if you have one in your area (I didn't) or a reputable mail order or online dealer who deals in "real scopes is the way to go.
Good Luck

aurorae
2003-Feb-25, 06:38 PM
On 2003-02-24 19:37, RMallon wrote:
http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~rhill/alpo/clublinks.html

http://astroplace.com/amateurs/clubs.asp

The above links have quite a number of listed astronomy clubs here in the U.S. and around the world.


Also:

http://skyandtelescope.com/resources/organizations/

and

http://www.astroleague.org/al/general/society.html

are very complete lists.

Glom
2003-Feb-25, 09:35 PM
Or perhaps

http://www.backyardastronomy.com

It's the official site of the book, The Backyard Astronomer's Guide by Terrence Dickson and Alan Dyer, which has loads of great stuff about telescopes, binoculars and cameras (camerae?). They don't seem to like Sir Patrick Moore very much though.