Beginners’ Guide to Telescopes

VB5 Jan 22, 2011

Website navigation tip:   On any page click on the telescope image, top right, to go back one level



So you’re interested in doing some fun star-gazing and you’re thinking of buying your first telescope.   What are the choices and how much will you need to spend?  The main difficulty with deciding what to buy is that you’re spoiled for choice.  Ask 3 astronomers for suggestions and you’ll get 5 ideas!  

This web feature is intended to help those interested in doing some fun star-gazing and thinking about their first investment in a telescope or binoculars.   It assumes little or no previous experience with small astronomical telescopes.  While it is possible to get started with basic equipment for under £100, we have targeted a budget of £250 so that some of the broader choices and considerations can be explored.

Begin by reading the overview which provides a background summary, then dip into the sections which recap  and add more detailed information.

Use the ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ arrows to turn from page to page, or jump directly to sections for reference using the menu on the left and the links in the text.


Overview:   A summary of the choices available, some of the things to consider, and some suggested ways to proceed with a starter budget of £250.


What are my choices?  What different kinds of small telescope are there?  Describes the main types of typical starter telescopes and mountings.


What do I need to consider when choosing a telescope?  What are the differences between types?   Looks at some of the things to be considered, and lists a few strengths and weaknesses to be think about and look for when you’re window-shopping.


How much should I expect to pay? What will I be paying for?  A survey of indicative prices for different types and brands.


How do I set-up and use a starter ‘scope?   A brief general overview of how to set-up and use simple starter scopes.  Gives an idea of what to expect.   Your chosen telescope will come with instructions and a user guide, and there is a wealth of helpful information available on the internet


Where can I look for more information?    Links to useful web sites for more information on choosing and using a starter scope, places to shop, and price lists.


The equipment listed and prices indicated were correct at the time of going to press.   The listing of particular brands and models is illustrative only and does not imply endorsement or recommendation.