“How do I buy a telescope?”
- Your local ASSA Centre or astronomy club is a good place to speak to people with field experience of the product/s which you may be contemplating. Their advice will be invaluable. Similarly, join on-line user groups.
- Think about what you most want to do with the instrument. Are you more interested in planets? Deep-sky objects? Wide field sweeping views? This can help refine your choice.
- Do your research – don’t rush out and buy the first thing you see, or purely on the basis of adverts and price.
- Start simple and work up. Put your money into quality rather than features and gizmos. A good Dobsonian is far superior to and much better value for money than a rickety equatorially mounted scope at the same price.
- If your budget is too modest for a quality instrument, rather buy some good binoculars with a tripod and a few books. Armed with these, learn your way around the sky.
- If you want a gourmet meal, you don’t go to a fast-food outlet, right? So if you are looking for quality products, with expert advice and assistance, better go to a place that specializes in telescopes (or at least, optics).
- Consider practical issues like: Where will I store it? How will I carry it? Will it fit in my car? Does it need power? Can I reach the eyepiece without twisting my neck or falling off a ladder? Am only I going to do visual observing, or is it mandatory to accommodate astrophotography? What is my budget?