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Add an intriguing item to your decor with a decorative telescope. Whether you're a novice stargazer or looking to upgrade your view of space, we break down the basics when it comes to buying a telescope. Read more below about telescope types, apertures, and features. You will find the right one for casual stargazing, or expand your telescope collection.
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Telescope with Goto technology

Telescope Usage and User Level

Look for a telescope based on your level of experience and interest; user levels range from kids and beginners to enthusiasts and professionals. The other main point to consider when buying a telescope is what you plan on viewing. 
  • For viewing close stars, the moon, and planets, you need a crisp resolution and aperture (no less than 2 inches).
  • For viewing galaxies and nebulae, you will need a much larger aperture (5 to 8 inches) and telescope . 
  • For astrophotography purposes, you will need a catadioptric or computerized telescope with medium aperture (4 to 6 inches). 

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Telescope with an equatorial mount

Telescope Types

  • Decorative: Has no inner telescope technology or very low aperture for mainly decor purposes. 
  • Refracting: Uses a lens to gather and focus light.
  • Reflecting: Uses a mirror to gather and focus light.
  • Catadioptric: Combination of refracting and reflecting lenses. Often used in cameras.
  • Optical Tubes: Usually a refractor lens with expanding tubes for extended vision (also called a double refractor).
  • Binocular: Dual-aperture telescope for high-quality viewing. 
  • Solar: Special telescope and lens designed for looking directly at the sun.
  • Dobsonian: Stable yet portable type of telescope base that's ideal for standard stargazing.

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Telescope with optical tubes

Telescope Aperture

Aperture levels regulate the brightness and sharpness of your view. The aperture has a range of levels depending on the diameter of the main lens or mirror. Generally speaking for telescopes, the higher the aperture, the higher quality the picture will be. While having a good aperture is crucial to the quality of your field of vision, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to choose the largest telescope possible. For a backyard set-up, consider a larger telescope. For stargazing near a city in a small space, consider a compact but powerful telescope. 

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Telescope with an Alt-Az mount

Telescope Features

  • Alt-Az Mount (alt-azimuth): A basic two-axis mount for supporting and rotating a piece of equipment vertically and horizontally. Must rotate on both axes separately to follow astronomical objects.
  • Equatorial Mount: This high-end mount mimics the rotation of the earth when following astronomical objects by rotating on a single axis at a constant rate. 
  • Goto technology: A mount with software that allows the user to track astronomical objects by computer. This also allows manufacturers to offer a simple Alt-Az mount with the ability to easily track objects. 
  • GPS technology: Computerized GPS telescopes simplify the process of finding stars and astronomical objects by mapping the sky for you. 

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