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Jaybee's avatar

What is the best telescope to buy under $700 that has all the capabilities of a powerful, super expensive one?

Asked by Jaybee (198 points ) January 23rd, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

11 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Not possible. Really good astronomical binoculars can cost upwards of $2000 dollars; you don’t want magnification beyond 7,8. 0r 10 and you do want a broad field of view.. They are heavy so you will also neeed a tripod to avoid the hand tremor.

The Amateur Associations in the US are a great resource. Here’s a link that is packed with information.

Jaybee's avatar

What is your opinion on the

Meade ETX-125PE Astro Telescope Premier Edition – UHTC Coatings ?

gailcalled's avatar

I’m the wrong person to ask. I have done research only on binoculars. A neighbor who teaches astronomy at the local HS has a little observatory set up in his back yard. The views through his telescope were very disappointing.

We all get spoiled by the huge magnification, long exposures, different color filters and computer-enhanced photos from Hubble and Nasa. I have very dark skies also.

tekn0lust's avatar

Ditto what Gail said, optics have a direct cost to quality ratio. You cannot get a lot for a little.

However, modern telescope optics are brilliant in the consumer market. An ETX is likely to provide everything you could possibly want unless you are really wanting to go get 16th magnitude objects or go faint comet hunting. At which point light pollution will be your biggest stumbling block and no amount of money is going to fix that.

Gail is right, if you are a beginner, resist the temptation to go drop $700 on a telescope and get yourself a good pair of binos. I promise you will not regret it.
I have a pair of SkyMaster 20×80’s that I get out all the time because they don’t take 30 minutes to setup like my 8” SC does.

gailcalled's avatar

@tek; What do you do about hand wobble with the 20 X 80’s?They probably don’t fit in your pocket.

Do you have good seeing? Here the skies are dark, except for the pollution at the horizon and the glow from Albany.

I have to prop up my 7 X 35s on a porch railing or my knees to reduce the tremors.

gailcalled's avatar

The SkyMaster 20 X 80 sounds terrific at about $200, but does require a tripod.

At almost six lbs., it’s a steal if you have wrists of steel.

Excerpt from here.

“As an additional convenience, the 80 mm and 100 mm SkyMaster models also include an integral super rigid photo tripod adapter.”

tekn0lust's avatar

I use a tripod and occasionally a monopod. I once saw a cool gadget that I would like to build that attaches to a chair and suspends the binos in front of you. Kinda like a baby mobile does in a crib.

I used to have really dark skies out in West Texas, but now I’m in North Dallas and have to drive 20 minutes or so to get to the same dark skies. :( light pollution makes me sad.

critter1982's avatar

Isn’t the reason they are so expensive because they have capabilities that bypass those of the less expensive ones?

zarnold's avatar

Unless you plan on doing astrophotography, I’d recommend a Dobsonian telescope – It’s essentially a newtonian reflector mounted on a lazy-susan type mount. I got an 8” model for $15 at a yard sale almost new, and it’s excellent in terms of light gathering. The drawback is having to manually track objects across the sky, but this is definitely the most optical surface area per dollar. Plus you can even build your own if you want.

an aside: I had John Dobson (the inventor of the Dobsonian) over my house once; he’s an awesome guy…he’s like 95 and still lectures on amateur astronomy and related topics.

zbyerly's avatar

Are you sure you don’t also want the telescope to fit in your pocket? What about folding your laundry?

Benny's avatar

Okay, this is something I know a lot about, actually. I’m an amateur astronomer, and I have owned two telescopes.

First of all, you’re not going to get the same quality as the “super powerful expensive” telescopes for under 700. You’re just not. But that doesn’t mean that you still can’t get a decent scope. So, before I answer your question let me ask you some questions first:

1) Do you live in a city or a country—i.e. do you have a lot of light pollution?

2) Are you going to need to carry your telescope around—i.e. do you need it to be relatively portable?

3) Do you plan to do just visual observing or do you want to do photography (a lot more time and money involved)?

That’ll start for now. Based upon these answers, I will either make a recommendation or I will ask you some more.

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