General Question

earthduzt's avatar

What is the best type of telescope?

Asked by earthduzt (3218points) January 19th, 2011

So I’ve been reading about and watching astronomy videos and am really interested in purchasing a telescope. I’ve been trying to read up on them but I just cannot decide which one to get. I would love to see deep field space, planets, and stars. As far as I know refractors and reflector scopes are the two most popular type. This will just be personal/recreational use and was looking to spend no more than 1000 dollars on one. Are there any astronomy buffs/stargazers here that can recommend which type of scope would best suit my purpose, any personal experience with either of the two? Are there any other types of scopes I should be interested in?

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14 Answers

filmfann's avatar

I have had both, and I prefer the reflectors. The bigger, the better.
I had a homemade 45” long one, 9” across. I was shocked at how well I saw the moon.

Scooby's avatar

With a budget of £200 to £400 there are some good starter scopes to be had. 60mm refractors and 4.5 inch reflectors can be bought for this sort of money and both these scopes are good ones to start off with.
Your budget stretches beyond this so you may start to be tempted by a telescope that features a motorized drive to track stars or even a computerized one which allows you to dial in a location in the sky to find a certain galaxy or nebula. This may not be the best choice if this is your first telescope. You may find you have bought quite a complicated piece of machinery that requires a bit more time and patience to set up than you allowed for :-/
Whatever you decide on I recommend you buy new from a professional outlet. Not you’re local camera shop…
Happy gazing… ;-)

AstroChuck's avatar

Depends on what you want to see. If you are more interested in planets and other objects in the solar system then a refractor is your best bet. A reflector is better for deep space as you get a bigger aperture. If cost is an issue I suggest getting a reflector with a Dobsonian mount. You can pay a lot of money for a Newtonian reflector with an equatorial mount. I have a 10.1” Dobsonian and I love it. Buy buying the Dobsonian I was able to spend more money on really fine Barlow lenses.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I bought a used 6” Criterion Dynascope in perfect shape. It came with an equatorial mount and clock drive. It’s great. I had the mirror checked and it tested out at 1/13 of a wave. Awesome!
@AstroChuck is right. You do get more firepower with a Dob but it’s harder to aim.
I think we should all go to Chuckie’s house for a peak.

Rarebear's avatar

As @AstroChuck it depends. I can help you, and knowing your budgetary requirements helps. It all pretty much depends on what you want to do with it, how much you want to spend, where you live, and how much hassle factor do you want?

@AstroChuck is also correct in that a Dob is probably the best all around beginner scope. You have to remember that you’re not only spending money on the scope, but also the mount, the finder, the computer (if you want one), and eyepieces.

For $1000 you really can’t get a decent refractor/mount set up, so I’d throw that out. Also, you won’t be able to afford a Schmitt-Cassegrain scope either, unless you get one used at a steep price, and remember you have to buy the mount first. My 140mm refractor/mount combination cost over $5000 and I’m still buying shit for it.

This leaves reflectors, and you can get some excellent ones. If you live in anything besides dark skies, it’s probably not worth getting anything bigger than an 8” reflector. I don’t agree with @worriedguy in his criticism for Dobs in that they come with computers now, and if you have a finder such as a Telrad it makes things pretty easy if you have a good beginner book like this one.

So this is what I recommend. I’m going to use Orion as an example, as I’m partial to them, but there are other companies that are just as good. I don’t recommend the 6 inch scopes, especially the table top scope as they’re inconvenient and small, so I recommend the 8 or 10 inch, although I’d choose the 8 inch for the reasons I noted above.

The 8” Intellescope comes with a 25mm and 10 mm eyepiece which with the 8” will give you 42X and 120X. With a 2X barlow that gives you 4 magnifications to choose from, which will be good. If you want more, I’d recommend a 17mm eyepiece.

Of course, this is all for visual observing. If you want to do astrophotography we need to have an entirely different conversation.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

These are the best type, but they are out of your budget. I think you’ve gotten some excellent suggestions so far.

earthduzt's avatar

@Rarebear thanks for the great advice, I live in San Antonio Texas, and the hill country isn’t but 15 minutes from me and out there the sky is big and dark. Is one that tracks automatically a good idea for a beginner? I’m definitely checking out your suggestions!!

You mentioned astro photography, I was very curious about that and was wondering how one would go about taking pictures of the moon, planets etc. I would love to hear about that sort of setup!!

Rarebear's avatar

Well, I didn’t have a computer when I had my Dobsonian, but they weren’t available. I’ve heard good things about them, though.

What you should really do is go to a local astronomy club meeting or star party and check out the different scopes. It looks like yours has a lot of local events.

My astrophotography set up? I have a TEC 140 mm apochromatic refractor, with a Skywatcher EQ6 mount. My camera is a Canon XSI DSLR. I don’t recommend starting with that.

Taking pictures of the moon is pretty easy, since it’s bright and big. Planets are a little trickier. I do it with a webcam and a laptop, and processing software.

I’ll change my avatar to a picture of Jupiter I took so you can see an example.

earthduzt's avatar

@Rarebear all I have to say is awesome!

ahmed88's avatar

iam beginner and can get advice about best telescope.

filmfann's avatar

I currently have a Compound Telescope, and I feel it is equal to any telescope I have ever had.
They aren’t too expensive, either.

Rarebear's avatar

@filmfann What do you mean by “compound telescope”?

AstroChuck's avatar

@Rarebear- A Schmitt-Cassegrain would be an example of a compound telescope. I have to disagree with @filmfann on the expense statement, at least in comparison to a reflector. Of course if you are comparing it to the cost of a comparable refractor then it’s quite a bit cheaper.

Rarebear's avatar

I just haven’t heard of a SC being commonly referred to as a compound scope.

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