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So you want to buy a telescope?

Week of January 26, 1998

I receive quite a bit of email every day from people about all sorts of astronomy-related topics. One of the more frequently asked questions is something like "What kind of telescope should I buy?" Ironically, if you asked most professional astronomers that question, they wouldn't be able to help you much! Not very many professional astronomers are also amateurs; that is, most don't own a small 'scope that they use for their own pleasure on a clear night. I think most are too busy!

Luckily, Your very own Bad and Bitesized Astronomer has different priorities! I started out an amateur, and still consider myself to be a hybrid of amateur and professional astronomer. I own a modestly sized 25 centimeter (10 inch) Newtonian telescope I paid for through my newspaper route in junior high school, and I still use it when I get the chance (of course, my back muscles are a lot older now, so it has to be really clear for me to do it!). I also taught a night lab class for three years, so I know my way around a telescope and the sky. Now, I haven't purchased a telescope in quite some time, so I am not up to date with everything out there. However, other folks are, and they do have a lot of advice for the novice 'scope buyer.

So, for the benefit of those that want to know, and to make it easier on me when I get asked, I have added a list of links you can look through and see what's what.

  • First, do not buy a telescope from the Galileo company! They do a lot of advertising on the Home Shopping Network, and they lie. It's that simple. Read this page for more info.
  • The Telescope Review Site is a comprehensive list of reviews of all sorts of telescopes. This is a must see!
  • The Astronomical League (PDF) has a great page about info for the novice buyer. The AL is a collection of amateur astronomy clubs, and has a lot of good stuff on their site to read.
  • You an also check out Bill Arnett's Information for Beginning Astronomers.
  • Astronomy Magazine has some tips and background info on telescopes.
  • My sister site has two articles on telescope buying here and here, with lots of links therein.

As time goes on, I may add more links to this page with other people's sites (I know of a couple more but I seem to have temporarily misplaced the URL's). Check back here every now and then to see what's new!

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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