Most newcomers to Astronomy start with the quintessential telescope.  These telescopes are widely available and offer an easy entry into the hobby.

Notes:   Keep your expectation real.  No telescope is going to provide a view akin to a Hubble image.  Making visual observations require some patience and appreciating nuance.

What to Avoid:  If you want to view deep sky objects, avoid telescopes with an aperture smaller than 6″.  A telescope is a light collector – and more light means faint objects are brighter.  Many reputable brands sell small refractors which are great for viewing the moon and perhaps some star clusters, but will be frustrating trying to view many deep sky objects.  A pair of binoculars will serve you better if a 6 inch scope is above your budget.

Top Options:

Dobsonian Telescopes:  “Dobs” are a newtonian reflector OTA mounted on a simple alt-az “turntable” mount.  Nicknamed “light buckets” because they have a relatively large aperture for the pricetag.

Next Step Up:

If you are thinking of getting into astrophotography or EAA, consider a telescope with a motorized mount instead of a dobsonian.  For example, the Celestron Nextstar scopes offer a good balance of cost and features.

Other Gear You May Need:

  • Collimation Tool (This can very based on the type of telescope)
  • Red Dot Finder (e.g. “Telrad”)
  • Red Light flashlight
  • Star Atlas (Recommend Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas)
  • Beginner book to learn where to find things (Recommend “Turn Left at Orion”)
  • Warm clothes
  • Observing chair