A brief synopsis of the conventional wisdom:
- Make sure you really want a telescope. Many beginning astronomers would be better served by a good quality binocular (7×50 or 10×50 are the types most often recommended).
- Visit or join your local astronomy club to try out different telescope types and get advice from owners.
- Avoid department store telescopes, or any telescope advertised as providing unreasonably high magnifications (e.g., a 675x, 60 mm refractor). 50x per inch of aperture is a good, rule-of-thumb, maximum useable magnification.
- Aperture rules–light gathering capability is far more important than magnification.
- A steady mount is as important as any other part of the telescope.
- Make sure you have enough money left over to get a few good quality eyepieces or a good barlow lens.
- You get what you pay for.
First section is for buying a new telescope, Second is for Reviews, and the Third is for Use (This organization is still in the works!)
For all the information you could ever need, visit the following websites:( = highly recommended)
- Astronomical League, Astro Note 19: “So, You Want to Buy a Telescope?”: Covers all the bases. (PDF linked)
- Astronomy.com – Telescope Buying Guide: Detailed overview from the publishers of Astronomy magazine. Organized by perceived skill level. (PDF linked)
- Sky and Telescope — Choosing your first telescope: In-depth discussion of what to consider when buying a telescope, from a well-respected amateur astronomy magazine.
- Astrophotography: Buying A Telescope: General advice as well as things to think about when buying a telescope for a child
- Astronomy Ratings: Reviews and ratings of hundreds of telescopes, binoculars, and eyepieces. Brief reviews are submitted by the amateur astronomy community. Most items have multiple reviews from different users.
- Universe Today – Guide to Telescopes for the Beginner: Good, brief introduction
- Midlands(SC) Astronomy Club: Buying a Telescope: Brief. Some links included.
- Mortfield’s Telescope Buying Tips: Basic information, quick read. More detail is available on other pages.
- Ott Planetarium: Buying a Telescope: Basic information and advice. Several pages.
- Purchasing Amateur Telescopes FAQ: Compiled from Usenet posts by many people. Some reviews of retailers. Last updated in 1994, but still useful.
- Stellafane – Beginners Guide
- Ting’s www.scopereviews.com: Telescope buying advice as well as in-depth reviews of many specific scopes.
- The Heretic’s Guide to Choosing and Buying your first telescope – a link from Perkins Observatory listing
- Phil Harrington’s Star Ware Home Page: Web site by the author of a popular guide to astronomical equipment.
- Todd Gross’ Weather and Astronomy Site: Lots of reviews of telescopes and other equipment. Click on the “Astro-Product Reviews” tab in the quick links frame.
- Used Telescope Buying Points: How to go about finding a good used telescope.
- Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews: Detailed reviews of many different types of equipment, submitted by dedicated amateur astronomers.
Original Author: Michael Mills
Updated by Chris Lee on 13 May 2014 and working on adding more links to replace all the old dead ones… If you have things you would like added or changed email webmaster @ novac dot com