How To Choose A Telescope

best telescope for kids

Looking for a telescope?  How do you choose the right telescope for you? Do you find yourself asking questions like these and not knowing the answer? Well, you’re not alone. There are many people like yourself that are considering to purchase a telescope but don’t know where to begin.

How To Choose A Telescope

  1. DON’T buy a telescope because it has the largest magnification power
  2. DO spend a little bit of time to learn what to look for and what questions to ask when researching a telescope purchase
  3. DON’T purchase a telescope just because it is on sale
  4. DO Follow our 5-Step Process To Identify The Best Telescope

Keep reading to learn more about the Do’s and Don’ts of choosing a telescope, including our simple 5-step process to picking the right model.

Choosing a telescope can be exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, and sometimes confusing, all rolled into one experience. Lots of buyers that are planning to purchase a telescope do not have a background in astronomy, or not knowledgeable about what to look for, don’t know what questions to ask, and so they end up struggling to make a decision.

Tips For Choosing A Telescope

TIP #1: DON’T buy a telescope because it has the largest magnification power

We’ve all seen the ads in magazines, flyers, and catalogs. We’ve also seen displays at stores, shopping malls, and discount outlets. Every one of them tends to play up the magnification power rating.

best telescope for kids

Don’t misunderstand us, we think that magnification power is important but it should NOT be the primary criteria for selecting a telescope.

TIP #2: DO spend a little bit of time to learn what to look for and what questions to ask when researching a telescope purchase

Just like you learn some information and details about a product before you buy it, purchasing a telescope is the same process. You’ll want to be educated and knowledgeable before you spend any money.

TIP #3: DON’T purchase a telescope just because it is on sale

We all like to save money.  Bargains, discount prices, special sales, and one-time deals are very tempting. But before you spend your money, take some time and investigate the telescope being offered. Is the telescope really a good deal, or is it just some expensive junk?

The bottom line: It’s okay to spend a little bit more money for quality components because the overall experience and enjoyment that it will bring to a child is immeasurable.

TIP #4: Follow our 5-Step Process To Identify The Best Telescope

Step 1 –  Pay attention to the aperture size of a telescope

The aperture size tells you how much light the telescope is able to gather from the viewed object. This is arguably the single most important specification of a telescope that you need to consider before purchasing a telescope. Want to know more about a telescope’s aperture size, then check out our article about the importance of aperture size.

Step 2 – Examine the stand or tripod that the telescope will be resting on

The stand or tripod must provide a stable base for the telescope to rest upon. As such, you are looking for a well-constructed stand or tripod that is sturdy and will not wobble, shake, or vibrate.

A flimsy stand or tripod will flex and vibrate with the slightest movement. Any vibration of the telescope will be intensified when viewing an object under magnification.

Step 3 – Look closely at the mounting hardware system. This is the component that connects the body of the telescope to the stand/tripod

The telescope should be easily attached and removed from the mounting system. You should be able to mount and/remove the telescope quick and easily.

There should not be any moving parts that are constructed from plastic. Parts that move or that can be stressed are more reliable and have increased longevity if they are manufactured from steel or metal alloy.

Step 4 – Look for an “age-appropriate” telescope

If you want to buy the best telescope for a child, you’ll need to also consider the age of the child as a part of the process.

Depending on the age of the child, their ability to learn astronomy, learn how to properly use a telescope and learn to care for the telescope will vary widely.

Similarly, a telescope for a teenager or college student, or adult may also be different because of the varying demands and needs of the person viewing.

Step 5 – Don’t forget to consider the type of telescopes

There are three main types for telescopes:

  1. Refracting
  2. Reflecting
  3. Compound

The type to purchase depends upon what you are looking for, as each type has different advantages and disadvantages.

A refracting telescope is the most familiar, and in general is the easiest to operate. As such, we typically recommend a refracting type telescope for first-time users/owners.

If you want to know more about the different types of telescopes, be sure to check out our recently published article that explains each type in detail. Also, we’ve published “Telescope 101“, where you’ll get comprehensive, full-featured guide.

Shortcut To Choosing A Telescope For A Child

Perhaps your life is pretty busy and you don’t have the time to dedicate to performing an extensive research effort looking for the best telescope for the money.

What else can you do?

Let us help you with this important decision. We found the best telescopes for children based upon their age. Here are our recommendations

Do You Want More Options ?

Well, you can take advantage of our comprehensive Buyer’s Guide that we put together. We researched the marketplace and identified the best telescopes for a variety of different prices ranges. Be sure to take a look.

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