|Knowing which telescope is
right for you as a beginner can be quite a difficult question and the answer often
convoluted. One of the main problems also are when absolute beginners visit discussion
forums with this question. Everyone has well meaning advice and different requirements and
expectations but may not always provide you with the best fit for your situation and
Basic telescope designs are explained here
Quite often newcomers are told that a
8-inch Dobsonian is the best beginner scope and for most adults this may well be the case
however fantastic views are certainly attainable in smaller instruments like a well
4.5-inch Newtonian or even a
refractor. Depending on your needs and expectations, larger instruments are not
necessarily better and in fact smaller instruments have many benefits including
portability and can yield wonderful views of the heavens that will satisfy many people for
Your basic considerations are budget,
application (where and how it will be used) and technical requirements (aperture,
sophistication of the mount, weight and control).
The first and most important thing that
really needs to be considered is your maximum budget. Like anything, this will determine
the range of telescopes available to you. The essential thing about any telescope is that
its purpose is to gather light and magnify the view. The essential designs vary from one
telescope to the next however the principle of its function is the same. The mountings on
which the optical tube is seated varies too from simple to sophisticated which can largely
govern the price.
If you want it all but can't manage it
straight away there are options that allow for expanding your system without the need to
buy an entirely new telescope package down the track. For example, you might want a 200mm
Newtonian which will allow you to do astrophotography down the track like the popular
200mm EQ Newtonian (fitted with basic motor drive option) but you simply can't afford it now but would
like to start stargazing immediately. You could in this instance purchase a
and later order the
motor drive kit,
tube rings. The choice is yours and if you're unsure then simply give
us a call to discuss.
Fitness for Purpose
Within your pre-determined budget you now
need to consider what you want to achieve with the telescope. Will it be used for
terrestrial viewing mainly and perched on a table from the balcony for example? In this
case you might simply need a basic Spotting Scope
. However you may want a bit more aperture and power for viewing distant objects in low
light situations around dusk and twilight hours and take an occasional peek at the Moon or
a planet. In this case something like a
refractor that produces an erect image in the eyepiece will perhaps be best.
Is it going to be used specifically for exploring the night sky? In this case there are
many options available to you from simple designs like the
with basic up-down left and right movement to more complex mounts like the basic
which requires alignment to the south celestial pole and set-up according to your latitude
on Earth. or sophisticated GOTO systems.
Simple to use when viewing the
Dobsonian's and other alt-azimuth mounted
telescopes are easy to use designs for hunting down planetary and deep sky targets. The
simple up-down and left-right targeting makes them also well suited to young kids 8 or
over. A good example is the highly affordable
. Equatorially mounted telescopes should not be avoided however. By understanding why the
mount moves in arcs is to better understand that we live on a spherical planet and how the
stars overhead are mapped to celestial coordinates. This is not only educational beyond
the wonderful views seen through the telescope itself but will allow for protracted
observing as the Earth constantly spins enabling the user to keep objects easily centred
in the eyepiece rather than constantly drifting from view.
An important consideration depending on age
and general disposition is weight. Some telescopes are large and heavy and the larger they
are, the heavier the mount also. Do you need to drag it out on to the balcony regularly or
will it be situated in a more permanent location? Does it need to fit neatly in the car
boot or does it need to be tidily put away in the corner of a room without taking up too
much space? Maksutov and Schmidt-Cassegrain scopes are often very popular due to the
shorter optical tube design especially model of 8-inchs (200mm) or less. Larger apertures
say 10-inches (254mm) and over can require the help of another to fit the optical tube on
to the mount or simply moving the whole assembly outside.
Telescope Power - How far can I
This is one of the major questions and
misconceptions relating to telescopes and binoculars. Essentially, the answer comes down
to the objects size and overall brightness. While a faint, distant star in our own galaxy
say.. 2,000 light years away from Earth may appear invisible in a small telescope yet
detectable in a larger one, it is interesting to note that a massive object far beyond our
milky way like the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy (over 2 million light years away) can be
seen without a telescope because it is so enormous and highly luminous. There are several
other more technical factors relating to object brightness of celestial entities which
we'll avoid here for simplicity sake.
So what about the magnification question?
Yes, those highly misleading super dupa cheap binocular or telescope ads you find in the
TV week guide or at auction sites must be avoided! Aside from the fact that these
instruments are mostly junk, magnifying power is only as good as the clarity of the image
seen at the eyepiece. The super powered telescope ads are misleading (not completely
dishonest) because in fact, a small telescope can indeed magnify the view just as much as
a large telescope can but it comes down to how much light it can gather and how sharply
defined the view is. Beyond a certain point of magnification the image becomes dim and
useless in practical terms so depending on the application, aperture is the key to
resolution (amount of image detail) and limiting boundaries of magnifying power.
Thus a small telescope will yield a dimmer,
less clear view compared to a larger instrument because it has less light (photons) to
work with. For example, if we were to look at a ship near the horizon with a small
instrument, we might make out its overall shape and colour of the shipping containers
along its deck. With a larger telescope using the same magnification, you may see the port
windows with far better definition (resolution & contrast) and you might be able to
make out the company names or logos on the shipping containers more legibly. This is known
as a telescopes resolving power.
If our ship is say 4 kilometres away, our
view in the telescope or binocular simply magnifies the available light being reflected
off it giving us a sense of seeing it from a closer vantage point. In other words 10X
power would give us a perception of being only 400 metres away from the ship. If the ship
was twice as far away then we'll have more difficulty seeing as much detail because the
amount of light reaching our optics decreases as our objects apparent size decreases over
distance. In a celestial object scenario, finer details like tiny craterlets inside say a
big crater on the Moon are more easily detected which may otherwise prove far more
difficult or impossible to see using a smaller instrument.
You will find
the HOT symbol along side several products when you browse our product range. Since
everyone's needs (fitness for purpose) and expectations are often different, it is hard to
define as a meaningful percentage in "star ratings" across such a broad range of
items. So we use our HOT logo a browsers guide to those products we have personally tested
and experienced ourselves or based on popular feedback from our customers. It is your
assurance that the product is of a high standard of performance and functionality for a
Here and there you will find our
recommended options button at the bottom of product details pages. This will direct you
quickly to certain associated accessory items that will nicely compliment your purchase. Items
such as good reference books, power supply, eyepieces or eyepiece kits for example are linked to various
products having been tested with that product for usefulness or high compatibility
performance. By clicking this link you might save yourself on additional freight charges
later buy simply getting what you need right now.
Is the Brand Important ?
Like anything, there are good brand names
and junk brands. Many are rebadged products so it's often hard to tell which is what. But
where any manufacture continues to improve its processes and designs while endeavouring to
keeping prices realistic then manufacturer / brand is important. There are only a handful
of good manufactures in the world and we supply and support products from two of them.
Vixen in Japan have been manufacturing
optics for over 50 years and are the innovators of many popular designs found in the
market today. They have produced some of the finest reflectors and refractors in the world.
The Aluminium Vacuum Evaporation System produces unrivalled extreme-precision mirror
surfaces far better than the error-prone grinding process to form a mirror surface. Their
revolutionary system works by controlled layering of aluminium film. The primary mirror of
the legendary R200SS and the 6th order aspheric primary mirror of the VC200L for example
are produced with this technique. From their award winning binoculars, eyepieces and
telescopes, Vixen represents our superior line of products.
In terms of sleek design, stability of
build and perfection optics, we chose to represent Vixen in Australia as direct importers
to offer a top-end product to discerning amateur astronomers and astrophotograpers.
In the best of the best for affordability you can't go past Sky-Watcher
telescopes. Like most everthing these days they are a china based manufacturer and make
some of the finest achromat, ED apochromat refractors, Maksutovs and Newtonian reflectors
in the world. Sky-Watcher Australia provide complete local technical support and warranty.
They are also now the manufacturer of Celestron telescopes.
While the Sky-Watcher product incredible
well-priced for everyone, there are cheaper alternatives out of China and Taiwan offering
similar apertures and features but these scopes are often poorly finished and will not
provide the longevity throughout long years of use. Sometimes it's simply worth paying a
few dollars more for locally supported product and superior quality. Needless to say, we
highly recommend Sky-Watcher!
the young budding astronomer
for young teenager or novice
for those who may want to take photo's of the night sky too
scope for the whole family
for the apartment balcony and on the road
views from the balcony
want the telescope to take me there