If you want to get into astronomy, then you are probably considering buying a telescope for beginners.
Telescopes are optical instruments that use mirrors, lenses, or both to produce a magnified image of a distant object.
While telescopes are one of the most important tools for astronomical observation, they are also quite expensive.
For this reason, it is essential to do your research before you choose a model to go with.
If you find yourself in this situation, this telescope guide for beginners will tell you everything you need to know.
We will cover whether astronomy is difficult to get into and explain how to choose your first telescope.
Furthermore, find out what some useful accessories are and how to use your telescope properly.
If you are ready to dive into the world of telescopy, keep on reading.
Is Astronomy Difficult To Get Into?
When it comes to a telescope for beginners, the first thing you should consider is if astronomy is difficult to get into.
Astronomy refers to the study of everything outside of the earth’s atmosphere.
Astronomists study various objects in space, such as the moon, sun, stars, planets, galaxies, and more.
Astronomy as a Hobby
When speaking of astronomy as a hobby, it is a fairly easy field of science to get into.
Even if you don’t have extra money to spend, you can start with a simple phone app. There are many apps out there that show you where different constellations and planets are in the sky.
You can start by becoming familiar with the main terrestrial objects in the night sky.
You can also start with a budget-friendly telescope. You can easily find good-quality instruments for under $200.
While they won’t provide the best image quality, it will be a good telescope for beginners.
Another thing to consider is if you have any friends or family with a telescope. It will be helpful to try out the instrument first before buying one.
As you start to get more into astronomy, you can also buy an iPhone adapter and get into astrophotography.
Eventually, you can invest in a DSLR camera to produce high-quality astronomy photos. A telescope for beginners will be able to take decent astrophotography.
Overall, astronomy is a very easy hobby to get into. You do not need to have a high budget to do it.
Astronomy as a Career
While astronomy can be a fun hobby, some hobbyists may end up wanting more, even a career in astronomy. So how hard is it to get into as a career?
First of all, there is a lot of math involved. If math is not your thing, then astronomy will be a hard career to get into.
After getting your high school degree, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics or a physical science degree and specialize in physics or astronomy.
You can then venture on and earn a master’s degree in physics or astronomy and even earn a Ph.D. after that.
While you do not need a Ph.D. to get a job in astronomy, it will be much easier to get a job with a doctorate degree.
Overall, if you have a good foundation of math skills, it is possible to get into astronomy as a career.
It will not be the easiest career to work towards, but it will be rewarding if it is your passion.
How To Choose Your First Telescope
Before you can get into astronomy, you will need to have your own telescope. This section will cover how to choose a telescope for beginners.
Different Types of Telescopes
The first thing you should become familiar with is the different types of telescopes you will come across.
There are three main types of telescopes, including refractor telescopes, reflector telescopes, and compound telescopes.
- Refractor Telescope: Refractor telescopes are some of the most common models on the market. These telescopes have lenses at the front and are low maintenance. However, these telescopes can get quite expensive quickly. If staying on budget is an important factor, this kind of telescope may not be for you.
- Reflector Telescope: Reflector telescopes work a bit differently than refractor telescopes. These models have a mirror near the back of the main telescope tube. Budget-wise, reflector telescopes will be the least expensive. Something to keep in mind is that you will need to adjust your telescope quite regularly.
- Compound Telescope: Compound telescopes use both lenses and mirrors to collect light. If you are looking for more of a compact instrument, this will be the one to go with. Compound telescopes are also more on the affordable side.
Choosing the Aperture
When choosing your first telescope, it is important to pay attention to the aperture. The aperture is one of the most important features of a telescope.
The aperture refers to the diameter of the objective lens or mirror.
When you check out a potential telescope for beginners, try to find the aperture specifications on the body near the front of the tube or the focuser.
Generally, you should have an aperture that is at least 70mm wide. Never buy a telescope with a lower aperture than that, and try to get a larger aperture if you can.
The main job of the aperture is to let enough light in so that the microscope can produce a clear image.
The larger the aperture your telescope has, the more detail you will be able to see.
However, it is important to note that even an aperture of 80mm will work fine if you are on a budget.
It is worth noting that if you plan to use your telescope in a town or city, you will need a larger aperture, such as a 200mm aperture, to compensate for the amount of light surrounding you.
Otherwise, you won’t be able to see much through the lens.
Choosing the Tripod/Mount
Most telescopes will come with a tripod. However, some will only come with a mounting block. If your telescope does not come with a good-quality tripod, you may need to shop for a new one.
There are two main kinds of tripods/mounts: the equatorial mount and the altazimuth mount.
Altazimuth mounts are very quick to set up and easy to use. With these mounts, you can move your telescope up, down and left and right.
On the other hand, altazimuth mounts turn on only one axis. While they are easy to manoeuvre, you need to properly align them with the North Star and Polaris for them to work.
Now that you have picked your first telescope, it is time to buy some accessories.
This section will cover a few useful accessories that will help improve your experience while using a telescope for beginners.
The first thing you might need to buy is a quality telescope mount or tripod.
While mostly all telescopes will come with a tripod and mount, you may need to buy a better one depending on the quality.
First of all, make sure that the legs can take the weight of the telescope.
Furthermore, you should also buy a tripod that is resistant to corrosion and can withstand harsh weather.
A high-quality mount/tripod will keep your telescope stable if a gust of wind comes along. The last thing you want is to see your new telescope crashing to the ground.
A good rule of thumb is to invest in some extra eyepieces for your telescope.
Typically, the standard eyepiece that comes with your telescope will not be the best quality. However, the eyepiece is the most important part.
Invest in some high-quality eyepieces to amp up the image quality. You should have a few different sizes, including 10mm, 25mm, and 40mm.
If you want to amp up your magnification power, a Barlow lens will be a good choice. Barlow lenses are powerful and can double the magnification power of your telescope.
Make sure that your telescope can handle the power before using a Barlow lens.
Lens filters are the best telescope accessories for beginners. There are a few different types of lens filters out there, depending on what you need.
First of all, you can buy moon and planetary filters. Moon filters help lower the moon’s brightness so you can see details of the planet’s surface more easily.
Planetary filters will help to highlight surface details, clouds, and belts of the planets.
You can also get an LPR filter, which helps to reduce the impact of city lights while stargazing.
A smartphone adapter will allow you to attach your phone to the telescope and take photos of planets.
This accessory is best for those interested in astrophotography and would love to share photos of the night sky with their friends.
How To Use a Telescope Properly
Now that you have all of the parts you need, it is time to use your telescope! Let’s take a look at how to use a telescope properly.
- Adjust the finderscope. The first thing you need to do is adjust the finderscope (which will be on the side of your instrument) and become comfortable with it. You can do this during the day before you go out at night. Just make sure to never look at the sun through your telescope.
- Get comfortable with the mount and tripod. Next, you should practice using the mount. The last thing you want to do in the cold night air is to waste time figuring out how to move your telescope. Practice during the day so you are prepared when you are out on the field.
- Plan what you want to observe beforehand. Decide whether you want to look at the moon, stars, planets or galaxies before heading out. The location, time and weather you go out in will depend on what you want to observe.
- Look for a flat and dark area to set up your telescope. When setting up your telescope, make sure to find a flat surface to prevent the tripod from falling over. Furthermore, make sure you find the darkest spot possible.
- Dress for the weather. Finally, make sure to dress for the weather. You will be out at night, so it will be cold.
Before you start using your telescope, it is essential to learn how to maintain your optical instrument.
Knowing proper maintenance habits will help lengthen your telescope’s life and prevent costly repairs.
Storing Your Telescope Properly
First of all, you should have a safe place to store your telescope.
Ideally, you should store your telescope in a dry, dust-free, safe storage space that has more than enough space for it.
Remember, you will need to repeatedly remove it and put it back in the storage space, so it should not be a tight fit.
You should also keep it in an area that is a similar temperature to outside. That way, when you bring the telescope out, you won’t have to wait long for it to adjust to the temperature.
Clean Your Scope Properly
Make sure only to clean your telescope when you have to. These machines are fragile, which means you could easily damage something.
You should also ensure that you use the proper equipment such as lens cleaning wipes, microfibre cloths, air blowing bulbs, and a lens cleaning solution.
To clean the lenses, first, remove the dust particles with compressed air. You can go in after with the lens cleaning solution and microfibre cloths to remove oils, stains or fingerprints from the lens.
If you are cleaning the mirrors, use lukewarm water instead of a lens cleaning solution to clean the surface.
One last thing to note is that if your internal lenses and mirrors need to be cleaned, make sure to hire a professional.
Do not try to dismantle the instrument yourself, especially as a beginner.
Advancing Towards More Complex Telescopes
Perhaps you have been using a telescope for beginners and are ready to advance to a more complex instrument.
Before doing so, you will need to think of a few factors. First of all, you will need to have a bigger budget.
Intermediate telescopes will cost around $500 to $1500. Second of all, you will have to prepare yourself for a steeper learning curve.
There will be more features that you will have to learn to use the telescope properly.
An intermediate telescope will have more features and will perform much better than beginner telescopes.
Furthermore, intermediate telescopes have more advanced optics, which will produce higher resolution images.
Here are a few top intermediate telescopes to check out.
- Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
- Celestron Advanced VX 6” Newtonian Telescope
- Skywatcher Explorer 130M
- Celestron Nexstar 8SE
Telescopes are optical instruments that allow you to look at faraway terrestrial objects up close, such as the sun, moon, and stars.
Astronomy is an interesting hobby to get into. You won’t need a big budget to start learning about the night sky.
Furthermore, a career in astronomy is possible if you have a strong mathematical foundation.
When it comes to choosing your first telescope, you will need to decide what kind you want. The three main types are refractors, reflectors, and compound telescopes.
To use a telescope, you need to adjust the finderscope first. Then you should become comfortable with the mount and tripod during the day. Plan what you want to see before going stargazing.
This will determine the ideal weather, location and time you go out.
When you get to your location, make sure to find a flat area to set up your telescope. Finally, make sure to dress for the weather. Wear a warm jacket and a hat and gloves if you need them.