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Telescope for starters?

I am very interested in stargazing. I enjoy viewing those space pictures from Nasa Picture of the day and other sites. But the thing is, I have never ever got a chance to view through a telescope. I only know that a telescope is used to view the heavenly bodies and may be your neighbors Razz.

But on a serious note, I want to get a telescope but I know nothing about it. I have googled a lot and found pages and pages listing about telescopes for beginners. But I am still not sure. What should I be looking for in a telescope and its features? (for example in digital camera's we look at the megapixels). The telescope should be as light and as economical as possible. I want to look at Saturn and its rings and possible some detail from the nearby galaxies.

So what do you think I should get and learn my fellow star gazing frihosters?
jajarvin wrote:

Lens resolution

The ability of a lens to resolve detail is usually determined by the quality of the lens but is ultimately limited by diffraction. Light coming from a point in the object diffracts through the lens aperture such that it forms a diffraction pattern in the image which has a central spot and surrounding bright rings, separated by dark nulls; this pattern is known as an Airy pattern, and the central bright lobe as an Airy disk. The angular radius of the Airy disk (measured from the center to the first null) is given by

sin(θ) = 1.22 * (λ/D)


θ is the angular resolution,
λ is the wavelength of light,
and D is the diameter of the lens aperture.

Two adjacent points in the object give rise to two diffraction patterns. If the angular separation of the two points is significantly less than the Airy disk angular radius, then the two points cannot be resolved in the image, but if their angular separation is much greater than this, distinct images of the two points are formed and they can therefore be resolved. Rayleigh defined the somewhat arbitrary "Rayleigh criterion" that two points whose angular separation is equal to the Airy disk radius to first null can be considered to be resolved. It can be seen that the greater the diameter of the lens or its aperture, the greater the resolution. Astronomical telescopes have increasingly large lenses so they can 'see' ever finer detail in the stars.

So the bigger the radius of a lens aperture the better you can watch the stars.
Hey PlayFunGames,

There is something about digging out the telescope, traveling to a dark unobstructed sight on a clear night, carefully setting it up, and finally getting a chance to look through it with friends and family that just has a comforting yet magical feel to it. That being said it is a bit of an effort and what makes it special is more so the atmosphere and the event as a whole compared to what you see (especially for the basic entry level devices and even then uninterested people won't last long).

For beginners I strongly suggest some deep sky binoculars instead. They are so much more portable and much easier to look through (kids can check out the density of the Milky Way), and you can still easily appreciate several galaxies and globular clusters. They are appropriate for looking at the moon which contains features you can read up on and point out. They also serve just fine in the day time for wild life or whatever else as well.

The ease of being able to grab them and head out any time (the excuse of the ISS passing over head is a good one to get the folks involved), bring them along car camping or to a friend's cottage, is definitely worth it and as I said they are comparable in all respects except for locating faint smudges of distant galaxies which you need the telescope for.

Now the only real downside to them, compared to the same level telescope, is holding them steady, directing other people where to look, and carefully lining them up yourself. That of course is easily solved by getting a tripod for the binoculars. Now yes this makes for awkward viewing if looking straight up, but it isn't much more difficult in any other direction, and most importantly bringing out the tripod captures the "special event" atmosphere I mentioned for telescopes.


If you are mostly interested in going out by yourself or perhaps one or two buddies who are just as committed to the long haul as you for extended and numerous viewing sessions, then I would say go for a telescope and I'm really not the one to ask about brands or designs (call up your local astronomy club and they'll invite you to their next stargazing event so you can get a feel for it). Even if you do decide on a telescope, binoculars still have their uses and they are the more versatile if picking up your first piece of equipment.
A 6 inch telescope is good for starters
you can observe planets and some deep sky
You have to decide as to what you want to go for - A Dobsonian or Equatorial mount
Dobsonian is easy and equatorial mount needs a lot of setting up like polar alignment etc.,
Here are is a video of a compilation of photographs I took with my telescope
and also check this for some photos
Wow, this thread is kind of old already and thanks for your replies guys. Those are helpful. But till now, I have not been able to gather the funds necessary to purchase a telescope. I will have to import it and that will cost a lot for me here. I think I will wait till I have the funds necessary to get one. My interest in telescopes have gone down by a bit though.
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