Tips for Buying a Telescope

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Tips for Buying a Telescope

For space buffs, a telescope can make it possible to see celestial bodies and events millions of miles away with the twist of a couple of dials. While binoculars are useful for seeing planets like the moon, and certain constellations, a telescope can add incredible detail to these planets and allow the viewer to see things that are not viewable by the naked eye or binoculars. Knowing key terminology around telescopes helps when making a purchase, as well as knowing the difference between telescopes. Telescopes are obtainable at photography retailers and some department stores, but the best selection is available on eBay.

Determine the Intended Use for the Telescope

Before buying a telescope, it is a good idea to know its intended purpose. For example, if the buyer lives in an area such as a beachside location or one with mountain vistas, an expensive, high-powered telescope would be overkill. However, if the buyer wants to use the telescope to view the cosmos, then longer, high-magnification telescopes are the way to go.

Learn the Terminology for Telescopes

Knowing what key terms relate to telescopes helps a buyer understand the information around the potential purpose. For example, aperture refers to the diameter of the refractor's objective lens or the reflector's objective mirror. This size is in direct relation to the telescope's power. In these cases, the more light a telescope can pull in, the clearer the images. Another key term is focal ratio, which is a telescope's focal length divided by its aperture size. Although a higher focal ratio does not mean the image is clearer, it helps consumers make a decision based on price; a lower-priced telescope with the same focal ratio than a higher-price telescope is likely a better deal. Other key parts of a telescope include the eyepiece, which is measurable in millimetres and is often interchangeable with other eyepieces, and the mount or stand upon which the telescope attaches.

Know the Difference Between Telescopes

There are three main categories of telescopes available. These are reflector telescopes, refractor telescopes, and catadioptric telescopes. Reflector telescopes offer the lowest cost per millimetre of aperture, and are generally easy to adjust. Refractor telescopes typically offer the best performance related to aperture size and built, to withstand being banged and bumped. For those people looking for a high-powered telescope in a smaller size, catadioptric telescopes, such as Schmidt-Cassegrain or Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes, are ideal. They feature more compact tubes, are easy to mount, and offer the least variance in eyepiece height.

Learn How to Use a Telescope Before Buying

Although there are some videos available on the Internet that offer training, hands-on lessons are always best. Buyers who have a friend or family member who owns a telescope should request access to their telescope to learn how to work it. Additionally, there are local astronomer's clubs that are happy to accept new members let new users have access to their telescopes under supervision. Planetariums often hold classes that offer training in the use of telescopes.

High Power Does not Always Mean Clearer Viewing

Do not be fooled by telescopes that have high power touted as the main selling point. Although high power does mean that the magnification of the sighted object is larger, the amount of light allowed into the viewing area is also higher, potentially obscuring the object. Contemplate all factors, including the aperture, focal length, and eyepiece magnification, when considering what telescope to purchase.

How to Buy a Telescope

Buying a new or used telescope is as simple as searching eBay. Visitors to eBay can use the convenient search bar found on every eBay page to search for keywords, such as astronomical telescopes, which can point users to dozens of choices related to the desired item. From there, it is a simple process to narrow the selection further by choosing from brand, lens coating, maximum magnification, and mount type. Shipping is also an important consideration as telescopes are fragile and must have proper packaging to resist damage if sent via post or carrier. An alternative option may be to seek sellers who offer local pickup. Once the new telescope arrives, it is only a matter of fine-tuning the telescope, aiming at the heavens or other sights, and settling in for a lifetime of spectacular viewing pleasure.

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