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.
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
. 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).
Telescope with an equatorial mount
- 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.
Telescope with optical tubes
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.
Telescope with an Alt-Az mount
- 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.