5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

You’ve been learning the night sky with your binoculars and now feel ready to make the leap to your first astronomy telescope. There is a telescope in your local store with fantastic pictures of Jupiter and Andromeda on the box, like something the Hubble telescope would produce. To top it off the telescope box says it magnifies to 800x! Wow it must be a great telescope and cheap too. STOP!

These are the telescopes you want to avoid. They usually have very poor mounts and optics, which makes seeing anything a chore. These telescopes are rarely loved instruments that give pleasure and so, normally end up in an attic or garage collecting dust.


Any telescope can have a high magnification by using certain eyepieces, but it’s much like watching standard definition television on a large screen. The picture looks blurry and without definition. To improve the picture you need to buy a high definition television as it has more pixels per inch, or to put it another way, higher resolution. So, if it’s not magnification you should be looking for in your telescope what is it that makes a good amateur astronomy telescope?

1. Ease of Use

In my opinion the most important feature for a beginner’s astronomy telescope is it's ease of use. The faster you can set it up the more likely you are to use the telescope and the easier it is to use, the longer you can spend observing the wonders of the night sky.

2. Portability 

Next would be portability. The smaller the telescope the more likely you are to take it with you on trips away where the sky is dark. Also, a portable telescope is far more enticing to want to get it out in the evening on a clear night.

3. Aperture Size

Next is the size of the aperture. The larger the aperture the more light the telescope will collect. This will make finding those small, faint, fuzzy objects easier to spot. The larger aperture will also improve the resolution of the telescope, which makes seeing the features on the planets easier too. The problem with too large an aperture is that the telescope becomes cumbersome, the cool down time takes longer (acclimitisation to the atmosphere to prevent thermal currents around the telescope) and the telescope is more prone to problems with atmospheric air currents termed seeing. Something between 4 to 8 inches is best for a beginner’s astronomy telescope.

4. Goto Technology

Goto telescopes are great but come at a premium. This means you’ll probably have to cut back on the aperture size or the quality of the optics of the telescope in order to keep to your budget. You can read more about the Goto telescope debate by following the link.

5. Mount

Lastly, the mount is so important for providing a good view. You can have the best telescope optical tube in the world but if its mounted on a wobbly mount the view will be annoying at best.

This video is excellent if you want more information before you buy an astronomy telescope. I would highly recommend you take a look.


Armed with this information you should be able to now purchase an amateur astronomy telescope that will hopefully become your companion as you seek out the cosmos together. Look after it and it should serve you well for many years. You can view a selection of excellent beginner astronomy telescopes by following the link.

Related Posts: Equipment

Please feel free to make comments.

Back to Beginners guide to Astronomy

Or next:

Part 1. Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy

Part 2. Binoculars or a telescope, which should I buy first?

Part 3. 5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

Part 4. Goto or Not Goto? That is the Question

Part 5. How to Set-up an Astronomy Telescope

Part 6. 8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

Part 7. 10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

Part 8. 5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

Part 9. Which Eyepieces Do I Need?

Part 10. 10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

Part 11: How Can I See Deep Space Objects Better?

Part 12: How Can I See More Detail On Planets?

Part 13: How to Dress for Astronomical Success

Extras: Beginner Astronomy Telescopes

Or Start reading the Learn Astronomy Blog

Or Start Finding Deep Space Objects with the Constellation and DSO Guide.

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