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How to Buy a Telescope

OpticsPlanet.com offers the best brand name telescopes from Bausch and Lomb, Bushnell, Celestron, LOMO, Meade, Pentax, Swarovski, Tasco, Zhumel, and other top brand telescope names!  We have compiled a bestseller and staff telescope picks list based on customer telescope reviews and our own extensive telescope testing.
We at OpticsPlanet.com want to help you to become an educated telescope user, and we highly recommend you to read this telescope information pages that will help you to gain the knowledge about telescopes.

How to choose right Telescope.

A telescope makes a wonderful gift for someone who has an interest in the night sky. Even the smallest telescope is capable of revealing the rings of Saturn, the cloud belts of Jupiter, hundreds of star clusters and even distant galaxies. With a medium to large telescope, amateur astronomers rarely see everything there is to see with their telescope, even after years of observing. Astronomy is truly an interest that can last a lifetime.

So how do you choose a telescope for a new astronomer? With so many telescope models designed for the beginner, it is sometimes hard to choose, especially if you are not an astronomer yourself. Here are some frequently asked FAQ and answers about astronomical telescopes for the person who has an astronomer on their gift list. We have also included some telescope recommendations for beginning astronomers to make shopping easier.

Here are the most frequently asked FAQ about telescopes.

  1. FAQ about telescope size.
  2. FAQ about telescope magnification.
  3. FAQ about telescope types.
  4. FAQ about telescope mounts.
  5. FAQ about spotting scopes for astronomy.
  6. Recommended (Suggested) telescopes for beginners.

01 - Questions about telescope Size.

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Question:
- How are telescopes measured or sized?
Answer:
- Since any telescope, even a small one, can produce any given magnification with the right eyepiece, magnification is not a useful way to rate a telescope. Therefore, the size of the lens or mirror (the heart of the telescope) is used as a general way to measure telescope potential. This is usually part of the telescope�s model description.
Examples: Question:
- Why is the size of the lens or mirror in a telescope important?
Answer:
- The larger the lens or mirror, the fainter the objects a telescope will reveal (the more objects that will be visible), and the greater the magnification it can use and still produce a good image. For example, at 120x, a ten inch telescope will reveal hundreds of objects not visible in a three inch telescope. In addition, at 120x, the 10" inch telescope will produce images that are brighter and sharper than the 3" inch telescope.


Question:
- What is considered a large telescope or a small telescope?
Answer:
- For amateur astronomers, a "small" telescope generally refers to a telescope of 4 inches or less. A "medium" telescope generally means a telescope of five to eight inches and a "large" telescope usually means anything over ten inches in size. However, this is a very general way to look at a telescope. Optical quality and special features may allow a small telescope to outperform a larger telescope for some types of observing.


Question:
- Should I buy the largest telescope I can afford?
Answer:
- Not always. Large telescopes do translate into more objects seen and better images, but they are also more expensive and also less portable. Many astronomers choose smaller telescopes because they need to transport them to locations where the sky is darker and more stars are visible. Even if observing will be done at home in the backyard, portability is still a factor. When a telescope becomes a chore to move and set up because of its size, it is doomed to collect dust in the closet. If you are buying a telescope for a new astronomer, especially a child, it also makes sense to start with a telescope that is suitable to their size, age and interest.

02 - Questions about telescope Magnification:

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Question:
- How much telescope magnification do I need for astronomy?
Answer:
- Not as much as you think. Few astronomical objects require more than 350x magnification and most observing is done at less than 200x, even in a large telescope. It is essential to understand that as magnification goes up, image quality goes down and that it goes down much quicker in a small telescope.


Question:
- Can I really get 500x magnification with my small telescope like it says on the box?
Answer:
- Yes, you can get 500x or 600x magnification, even in a small telescope, if you use the right telescope eyepieces. However, at such extreme magnification the images produced will be useless. Worse yet, especially for the beginner, as magnification goes up, ease of astronomical telescope use quickly goes down. At 500x, a small telescope is impossible to use, despite what it might say on the box about magnification.


Question:
- How much magnification can I use in a small telescope and still get a good image?
Answer:
- That depends partly on Mother Nature. On nights when the sky is clear and stable, you can use higher magnifications than on nights when the sky is hazy or unsettled. Assuming good conditions, a basic rule of thumb is 30-50x of magnification for every inch of telescope as a maximum. Thus, the top useable magnification for a 2.4 inch (60mm) will be in the neighborhood of 120x on nights when the sky allows it. This is still more than enough to see the rings of Saturn, cloud belts on Jupiter and many star clusters and nebulae. Magnifications above this in a 2.4 inch telescope, even if you have the telescope eyepieces to obtain it, will produce images of low quality. Above 350-400x, even large telescopes have trouble seeing through the atmosphere above us.


Question:
- How do I know how much magnification I will get in my telescope. Are the telescope eyepieces marked with the magnification?
Answer:
- Telescope eyepieces are marked with their focal length in millimeters, not the magnification. To calculate the magnification you will get with any telescope eyepiece, divide the focal length of the telescope eyepiece into the focal length of the telescope. A telescope eyepiece with a focal length of 25 mm when used in a telescope with 1000 mm focal length therefore produces a magnification of 40x.

03 - Questions about telescope Types

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Question:
- What is a reflector (Newtonian reflector) telescope?
Answer:
- A reflector telescope uses a large mirror at the bottom of the telescope to focus light rays on a smaller mirror near the opening which then reflects the light into an eyepiece located at the top of the telescope. The Newtonian reflector is the oldest reflector design in use and still the most popular reflector telescope.


Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a reflector telescope?
Answer
Advantages
:

- Reflector telescopes cost less to produce than other telescope types and offer the most telescope for the money. Reflector telescopes produce good images and are favored by astronomers who need the largest possible telescope to find distant, faint objects beyond our solar system (deep-sky objects). If you are thinking of giving a telescope that will allow room to grow in astronomy, a medium (four and a half inches or larger) reflector telescope is the least expensive way to go.
Disadvantages:
- Reflector telescopes are more fragile than other types of telescopes and need periodic readjustment of the telescope mirrors (a process called collimation) and, because they are open on the top (Newtonian reflector), the mirrors are exposed to dust and dirt and therefore need periodic cleaning. The reflector telescope is by no means fragile, but it is the least childproof telescope design. The telescope eyepiece, located at the top of the telescope, may also be more difficult for children to reach.
Examples of Newtonian reflector telescopes are:
Question:
- What is a Schmidt-Newtonian Reflector telescope (SN)?
Answer:
- A Schmidt-Newtonian reflector telescope is a catadioptric telescope (a telescope that uses both lens and mirrors). The SN telescope uses a special plate at the top of the tube to correct the image before it reaches the primary mirror at the bottom of the tube. This makes the SN reflector telescope shorter than a standard Newtonian reflector with no loss of performance.
Examples of Scmidt-Newtonian reflector telescopes are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Schmidt-Newtonian reflector telescope?
Answer (Advantages):
- The Scmidt-Newtonian telescope is a shorter overall reflector than a Newtonian reflector which makes it more portable and easier to use. Because of the corrector plate (lens) at the top of the tube, the optics in a Schmidt-Newtonian telescope are also better protected against dirt and dust than a Newtonian reflector.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- Unlike the Newtonian reflector, the corrector plate at the top of the SN telescope can collect dew, and like the Newtonian reflector, the SN reflector still needs periodic collimation of the mirrors. These, however, are minor concerns in an otherwise excellent telescope design.


Question:
- What is a refractor telescope?
Answer:
- Refractor telescopes use lenses (not mirrors) at the top of the telescope to focus light rays into an eyepiece at the bottom of the telescope. It is the same design used in binoculars and most spotting scopes (daytime telescopes). Examples of a refractor telescope are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of refractor telescopes?
Answer (Advantages):
- Refractor telescopes are virtually maintenance free since the telescope tube is closed (not open as in a Newtonian reflector) and there is no telescope mirror to adjust. The refractor telescope is the most rugged telescope design and in the most expensive versions, a refractor will produce the brightest and sharpest image per inch of telescope. The refractor telescope is a good choice for children, not only because it is rugged, but also because the telescope eyepiece is located at the bottom of the telescope where it easier for small people to reach. Refractor telescopes are also easier to use as a daytime telescopes (with an image erector) than reflector telescopes.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- The refractor telescope is the most expensive telescopes per inch of telescope size; beyond three inches, the refractor goes up very quickly in price. If you buy a beginner a small refractor, be advised that the beginner may quickly outgrow it if they stay with astronomy for long.


Question:
- What is an Schmidt Cassegrain (SCT) telescope?
Answer:
- A Schmidt Cassegrain is a catadioptric telescope (a telescope with lenses and mirrors) that uses a combination of mirrors to squeeze an optically very long telescope into a short tube. An Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope has features of both a refractor (eyepiece at the bottom) and reflector (uses lenses) but is considerably shorter and more compact than either one. The Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is very similar to the Maksutov-Cassegrain below, but it uses a thinner, less complex corrector plate at the top of the telescope making it a more affordable and lighter in weight when used in large telescopes.
Examples of a Schmidt Cassegrain (SCT) are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of Schmidt Cassegrain (SCT) telescopes?
Answer (Advantages):
- A Schmidt Cassegrain telescope offers some of the advantages of a refractor - durability and less maintenance - but at price that is lower. The main advantage of an Schmidt Cassegrain telescope is portability - even a five inch Schmidt Cassegrain is small enough to carry on the front seat of your car. A Schmidt Cassegrain is regarded as the best all-purpose telescope for an astronomer who will be mixing visual observing with photography.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- A Schmidt Cassegrain telescope has a mirror in the front that partially obstructs the field of view and causes some light to be lost. For this reason, you may notice a slight darkening at the center of the field of view, though the effect on performance is negligible. Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes do not produce images quite as bright as the best reflector telescopes or an image quite as sharp as the best refractor telescopes, but it's versatility is better than either.


Question:
- What are Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes?
Answer:
- Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes, like the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, are catadioptric telescopes (a telescope with lenses and mirrors). The difference between the Scmidt Cassegrain and the Maksutov-Cassegrain is in the shape and size of the corrector plate (lens) at the top of the telescope. The Maksutov-Cassegrain uses a heavier, more complex corrector plate.
Examples of a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope?
Answer (Advantages):
- The Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope corrector plate allows for very fine correction of its optics. The Mak is capable of superb image quality, second only, perhaps, to the finest refractor. The Maksutov-Cassegrain is also a great design for smaller telescopes and is very popular for spotting scopes.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- The corrector plate on a Mak is heavier and more costly to produce. Maksutov-Cassegrain larger than 7 inches are, therefore, rare.


Question:
- What is a Dobsonian telescope?
Answer:
- A Dobsonian telescope is more of a type of mount than a type of telescope. A Dobsonian telescope is a large Newtonian reflector, six inches or larger, mounted on a simple box-like alt-az mount (see mounts below).
Examples of Dobsonian telescopes are:

Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of Dobsonian telescopes?
Answer (Advantages):
- A Dobsonian telescope is the essence of simplicity and a perfect choice for the astronomer who shuns hi-tech gadgetry and electronics. The "Dob" is the telescope for the deep-sky purist who wants to see the faintest objects at millions of light years beyond our solar system. The secret of the Dobsonian telescope is in its size - it is the largest telescope for the money you can buy. A huge ten inch, or even twelve inch Dobsonian telescope will cost less than a fancy computerized telescope half its size and will easily take you to places in the universe no smaller telescope can go. Even advanced amateur or a beginner will not outgrow a ten inch Dobsonian in his or her lifetime.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- Dobsonian telescopes above ten inches in size are a problem to transport - a disassembled ten inch Dobsonian telescope will still squeeze into a hatchback with all seats folded down and no passengers, but a twelve inch Dobsonian will not. Because a Dobsonian mount is all manual, it requires constant readjusting (though easily done with practice) to keep an object in the telescope eyepiece. For the same reason, it is limited for use as an astrophotography telescope

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04 - Questions about telescope Mounts.

Question:
- Why is a telescope mount important?
Answer:
- A telescope is only as useful as its mount - the higher the magnification, the truer this becomes. A telescope mount not only steadies the telescope, it also allows the telescope to follow stars and planets as they move across the night sky. When seen in the eyepiece of a telescope, stars and planets move slowly across the field of view in the eyepiece and disappear (because the telescope magnifies the earth's rotation, not because the stars move). To keep the object centered in the eyepiece, the telescope must be moved constantly. This is done in a number of ways, depending on the telescope mount.


Question:
- What is an Alt-AZ telescope mount?
Answer:
- An alt-az telescope mount requires you to move the telescope to the object you wish to find. You then move the telescope in two directions - up-down and right-left - to keep the object centered in the eyepiece as it moves. This is because stars move across the sky in a gentle arc or curve, but an alt-az telescope mount only allows the telescope to be moved in a straight line.
Examples of telescope on an alt-az mount are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of an alt-az telescope mount?
Answer (Advantages):
- Alt-az telescope mounts, because of their simplicity, are the least expensive of all telescope mounts. They are uncomplicated and rugged and the least likely to be damaged by over-eager children.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- Because a star or planet follows a gentle curve across the night sky instead of a straight line, a telescope on an alt-az mount must be adjusted both in an up-down as well as a right-left direction to keep a star or planet in the eyepiece. This is not much of a problem at low magnifications, but above 75x or so, an alt-az mount can be frustrating for a beginner to use.


Question:
- What is a fork mount?
Answer:
- A fork mount is a type of alt-az telescope mount, usually motorized (read "What is a motorized mount?" below). The fork mount is widely used on Schmidt Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes. These are highly portable telescope mounts which can actually be used with or without a tripod if placed on a flat, level surface.
Examples of a telescope on a fork mount:
Question:
- What is an equatorial or German equatorial telescope mount?
Answer:
- An equatorial telescope mount requires you to move the telescope to the object you wish to find, just as with an alt-az mount. To keep an object centered in the eyepiece, however, requires only a simple nudge of the telescope because the equatorial mount moves the telescope in the same gentle curve that stars follow across the sky. You can spot an equatorial telescope mount easily because it looks like a couple of pipes laid crosswise against each other. One of these "pipes" often has a set of counterweights to balance the telescope as it moves.
Examples of a German equatorial telescope mounts are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of an equatorial telescope mount?
Answer (Advantages):
- An equatorial telescope mount moves a telescope across the sky in the same curved path that stars and planets move. To follow a star or planet, then, requires only a simple nudge of the telescope rather than two adjustments as needed in an alt-az mount. This makes following objects in the sky much easier and makes higher magnifications more practical. Many beginner telescopes are now available with an equatorial telescope mount.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- To use the equatorial mount effectively requires that it first be aligned with true north (near Polaris or the North Star). Children may need assistance for this. In larger telescopes, equatorial mounts become heavy and unwieldy and may require some disassembly when moving the telescope.


Question:
- What is a manual GOTO telescope mount? (Not to be confused with a motorized GOTO mount. Read "What is a motorized GOTO mount?" below.)
Answer:
- A manual GOTO telescope mount is an alt-az mount with a computer attached to one arm. A manual GOTO telescope mount requires you to move the telescope manually to find an object, just as in a standard alt-az mount, but the computer gives you directions to find your object and tells you when you have found it. Once found, you still have to move the telescope to keep the object in the eyepiece (with the computer giving directions).
Examples of a telescope on a manual GOTO telescope mount:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a manual GOTO telescope mount?
Answer (Advantages):
- The manual GOTO telescope mount is an inexpensive way to help a beginner find an object in the night sky. It is a good choice for those who wish to keep things simple but still need some help navigating among the stars.
Answer (Disadvantages):
A manual GOTO telescope mount still requires you to move the telescope yourself and is subject to all the other limitations of an alt-az mount - best used at lower magnifications and for brighter objects.


Question:
- What is a motorized mount telescope mount?
Answer:
- A motorized telescope mount is a mount that requires you to move the telescope to the object you wish to see, but then keeps it in the eyepiece for you by moving the telescope with a motor. In other words, once an object is found, no adjustment is needed to keep it in the eyepiece. A motorized telescope mount can be any type of mount - alt-az, fork, or equatorial- that has an attached motor. The motor moves the telescope at the same rate of speed as objects that move across the night sky.
Examples of a telescope on a motorized mount:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a motorized telescope mount?
Answer (Advantages):
- For visual observing, a motorized telescope mount makes it much easier to use high magnification - the observer spends more time viewing and less time moving the telescope. This is also the best telescope mount to use when sharing the telescope with others - no need to adjust the telescope after each person has had their turn. For serious astrophotography, a quality motorized mount is a must, with a motorized equatorial preferred.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- In order to be effective, a motorized telescope mount must be carefully aligned first. The procedure will vary with type of motorized mount, and periodic corrections will be needed to keep things in alignment. The best motorized equatorial mounts can also be very expensive and cost as much or more than the telescope.


Question:
- What is a GOTO (computerized) motorized telescope mount?
Answer:
- A GOTO computerized telescope mount is a motorized mount that finds the object for you by means of a computer - usually with a handheld controller - and then keeps the object in the eyepiece for you. Examples of a telescope on a GOTO mount are:
Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of a GOTO (computerized) telescope mount?
Answer (Advantages):
- Astronomy changed in a big way when computers were added to a telescope. To find objects in the night sky without a GOTO mount requires use and expertise with a star map, knowledge of the constellations and experience (one reason so many beginners abandon astronomy as a hobby). Now anyone with a GOTO telescope mount can do instantly what used to require many nights under the stars to learn. Yes, some beginners will never bother to learn the night sky because of this technology, but for those who develop a real passion for astronomy and want to learn their way around the stars, GOTO technology is a great teacher.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- This is not a technology to those who have an aversion to bells and whistles or computers. There is also a matter of expectations to consider. On small telescopes, the computer database in the mount may easily exceed the capability of the telescope. In other words, just because the computer is pointing the telescope at an object is no guarantee that the image in the eyepiece will be impressive or even visible, especially on nights of poor sky conditions. No computer can turn a small telescope into a large telescope.


Question:
- What is a GPS telescope mount?
Answer:
- A GPS (Global Positioning System) is a navigational system that uses radio signals from satellites to locate your position anywhere on earth. On a telescope mount, it is used in conjunction with motorized< GOTO telescope mounts to inform the computer of the date, time and latitude and longitude. For most GOTO telescope mounts without GPS, this information must be inputted manually by the observer.
Example of a telescope on a GPS GOTO mount:

05 - FAQ about spotting scopes for astronomy.

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Question:
- What is a spotting telescope (also called spotting scopes)?
Answer:
- A spotting scope is a small telescope designed for daytime observing of birds, wildlife, boats, airplanes and any application where high magnification is needed. Optically speaking, most spotting telescopes are refractors, but several excellent spotting scopes are Maksutovs.


Question:
- Can spotting telescopes be used for astronomy.
Answer:
- Absolutely. Many astronomical objects - the rings of Saturn, Jupiter, star clusters, nebulae - are within the magnification range of a 20-60x zoom spotting scope.


Question:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using spotting telescopes for astronomy?
Answer (Advantages):
- The biggest advantage of using a spotting scope for astronomy is the fact that it can also be used for daytime observing. If you are uncertain that the person on your gift list will sustain an interest in astronomy - particularly children - a spotting scope is a much more practical gift than a standard astronomy telescope. It is much easier to use a spotting scope for astronomy than it is to use a standard astronomy telescope by day.
Answer (Disadvantages):
- A spotting scope for astronomy is limited by its size - most are 80mm or less - and also by its magnification - most spotting scopes go no higher than 60x. However, a few spotting telescopes models use interchangeable telescope eyepieces which makes them more practical to use as astronomy telescopes. (see next question).


Question:
- What features should I look for when choosing a spotting telescope for astronomy?
Answer:
- First, choose a spotting scope model with an angled eyepiece body configuration. This makes it much easier to observe when the spotting scope is pointed skyward. Second, choose a spotting scope model that uses interchangeable telescope eyepieces, preferably 1.25" telescope eyepieces. This will allow you to increase the magnification for astronomy.


Question:
- Are there any spotting telescopes that are especially good for use as astronomy telescopes?
Answer:
- Absolutely. Here are some spotting scopes that feature angled eyepiece bodies and interchangeable 1.25" telescope eyepieces. Most of these spotting scopes can also be fitted with other astronomy accessories such as star diagonals and camera adapters. Here is the list of such Spotting Scopes:

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06 - Recommended (Suggested) telescopes for beginners.


Question:
- What type of astronomy telescope do you recommend for beginners?
Answer:
- Read the information above and decide what type of astronomy telescope and what type of mount would be best suited for the astronomer on your gift list, then choose from one of the categories below. Also be sure to look at "Questions about Spotting Scopes for Astronomy" above for some excellent gift ideas.
Small Maks ALT-AZ: Small-Med Maks-Equatorial: Small Reflectors ALT-AZ: Small Refractors ALT-AZ: Small Reflectors: Small Refractors EQ: Small Maks Goto: Small Reflectors Goto: Small Manual Goto Refractors: Small Refractors Goto: Serious Beginners Reflector: Serious Beginner Refractor:

Astronomy Binoculars

Telescopes by Brand - Bausch and Lomb, Bushnell, Celestron, LOMO, Meade, Pentax, Swarovski, Tasco, Zhumel,

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Telescope Glossary

We offer huge telescope selection, and we understand that often it is not easy the figure out all the numbers and optics vocabulary.  With some helps from our friends from Bushnell Sports Optics and LOMO America, below we provide you with a quick introduction of the Telescope Terminology, and then we explain on what and how to look for the best telescope that works for you!

 

Basic Telescope Terminology

TERMINOLOGY
1. BATTERY COMPARTMENT
2. STRAP ATTACHMENT
3. POWER BUTTON
4. LASER TRANSMIT LENS
5. MONOCULAR EYEPIECE
6. LASER RECEIVER LENS
7. MONOCULAR OBJECTIVE
telescopes on sale

TELESCOPE is an optical instrument used for viewing distant objects usually in the night sky.  For terrestrial observations we normally recommend spotting scopes, however many astronomical telescopes (refractors and Maksutov telescopes) we serve the double duty exceptionally well.

TYPES OF TELESCOPES
Refractor Telescopes
Refractor telescope is an optical system that utilizes a series of glass lenses to refract or bend the light from a distant object such that it can be focused to a point and magnified by an eyepiece. Popularized by Galileo in the 17th Century, it is sometimes referred to as a Galilean refractor.   Refractor telescopes can be as simple as a long tube with an objective lens at one end and an eyepiece at the other. Astronomical refractor telescopes can be used as spotting scopes for terrestrial observations when they use or incorporate some type of image-erecting prism system (either Porro or roof prism) in the optical tube between these two lenses. Our 45 Deg Erect Image Prism system will turn upside down images right side-up and give correct left-to-right view.

Reflector Telescopes
The optical system in a Reflector telescopes uses a primary mirror to reflect the light from a distant object such that it can be focused to a point and magnified by an eyepiece. Popularized by Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th Century, it is sometimes referred to as a Newtonian reflector.  Normally Reflector telescopes are not suitable for
terrestrial observations, but they are great for most types of astronomy observations / start gazing

Barlow Lens
An auxiliary lens that increases the telescope power by a factor. For example, a 2x barlow lens doubles the magnification of the telescope.

Erecting Lens
Lens used with a refractor telescope when viewing land-based objects to correct the normally upside down image provided by an astronomical telescope.

Finderscope
On most astronomical telescopes a lower powered finderscope with a wider field of view lets the user quickly locate the object to be viewed by the high-magnification main telescope. There are two types of finderscopes, optical and red dot.

Focal Length
The measured light path of the optical system (tube length), typically measured in millimeters.

Focusing knob
Controls the rack and pinion focusing system. Permits smooth movement of eyepiece for precise, sharp images.

Magnification (Power)
Telescopes are often referred to by two numbers separated by an "x". For example: 100x4.5". The first number is the power or magnification of the telescope. With a 100x4.5" telescope, the object being viewed appears to be 100 times closer than you would see it with the unaided eye.
The magnification of a telescope is determined by dividing its focal length by the focal length of the eyepiece being used. For example, a 500mm telescope with a 5mm eyepiece would magnify objects 100x. Thus, a telescope can provide nearly any magnification required depending on the focal length of the eyepiece used.
Since most objects in the sky are rather large, high magnification isn't necessary. Rather, a telescope that gathers lots of light is needed to make dim objects appear brighter and sharper. The power or magnification contributes to the overall size and bulk of the telescope. This is because as the power increases, so must the physical size of the objective lens.

TYPES OF GoTo Telescopes
The GoTo computer system allows any beginner or amateur to navigate the skies like a professional.

COMPUTERIZED Star Locator (CSL) - Utilizes an on-board computer to find over 20,000 astronomical objects. Educational descriptions of the objects are provided at the touch of a button.  This is an older system that is used on a lower end telescopes.

"GO TO" COMPUTERIZED Star Locator - All the features of the Computerized Star Locator plus "go to" advanced motorized technology, where the computer automatically finds and follows any object from its 20,000 object database.

Objective Lens Size (or Aperture)
The second number in the formula (100x4.5") is the diameter of the objective lens or mirror. The aperture relates directly to how bright images will appear and how much detail is revealed. The larger the objective lens, the better.
The size of the telescope's objective lens, or aperture, limits the amount of power that can be used effectively. As the magnification of an object increases, the brightness of the image decreases. This is because the light gathered by the telescope is being spread over a larger area.
Aperture also limits the clarity of an image at increased magnification. When magnified beyond an aperture's recommended power, the image dims and becomes fuzzy.

Penta Mirror Technology*
This patented Bushnell telescope technology breakthrough allows for left-to-right correct view of the stars (not backwards-as in most telescope models) taking the guesswork out of where to move the telescope. This feature provides unparalleled ease of use for finding and tracking objects with a 90 degree viewing angle and 1.25" eyepiece adapter.

Resolution
Resolution, or definition, is the ability of a telescope to distinguish fine detail and retain clarity.

Rotary Power Turret*
This patented Bushnell telescope feature allows for magnification and accessory changes to occur through a simple twist of the turret or accessory dial. Accessories are incorporated into the telescope so there are no loose parts, and magnification and accessory changes can be made instantaneously to suit viewing conditions.

TYPES OF TELESCOPE MOUNTS
The mount secures the telescope to the tripod. It allows you to move your telescope horizontally and vertically. There are two primary types of telescope mounts, altitude-azimuth (or altaz) and equatorial. Altaz mounts move up-down and left-right. Equatorial mounts are tilted to align with the rotational (polar) axis of the Earth.

Easy Track Mount*
An altaz mount that allows quicker and easier set-up
and storage, and reduces image shake caused by wind or ground tremors.

Equatorial Mount
An advanced telescope mount that compensates for the earth's rotation.

Kinematic Mount*
Undoubtedly the most precise, yet simple telescope
mount in years, this high-precision altaz mount uses the principle that it requires three points to form a plane. Designed for optimum shape, the Kinematic mount features three points of contact in both horizontal
and vertical planes.

Yoke Mount
A u-shaped altaz mount.


TRIPOD
A tripod serves as a steady platform for the telescope to allow hands-free use. Because of its powerful magnification, even the slightest jiggle of the telescope is enough to move it from its target. Tripods feature three adjustable legs so the telescope can be used even when the ground is uneven.

* An exclusive feature of Bushnell models.


How To Choose a Telescope

When selecting a telescope, consider which target objects you plan to explore as well as your level of experience. For viewing most night sky objects, you'll want a telescope with as much aperture as possible. Keep in mind that as the size of the objective lens or mirror increases, so does the size of the telescope. So, be sure to select a telescope that isn't too heavy to manage or too complicated for you to set up-especially if portability is a necessity.

Ask yourself, "What do I want to see � earth objects, space objects, or both?" Are you equally enchanted by looking at the eye of an eagle and the rings of Saturn? Or, is your only wish to fill your vision with a feeding hummingbird or a spouting whale? If you require guidance in telescope selection, read on. If you still have questions, email us at customercare@opticsplanet.com.

Some telescopes are useful only for astronomical viewing, while others, frequently called "spotting telescopes," work best for terrestrial viewing. While certain telescopes produce excellent results for either astronomical or terrestrial viewing, specific telescopes perform best on either space objects or terrestrial objects.

We call objects associated with the planet Earth "terrestrial." This includes birds, whales, people, ships, landscapes and butterflies. We regard those in space as "astronomical." Space objects include planets, stars, galaxies, nebulae, "Luna" � our moon � and anything else that is beyond Earth�s atmosphere

Reflector or Refractor? 

We separate light telescopes into two general classes. "Reflecting telescopes" achieve most of their magnification with curved mirrors, while "Refracting telescopes" magnify by bending light passing through curved glass lenses. The different colors of light passing through the glass do not always focus on the same point. This makes "refractors" subject to "chromatic aberration" (color error) which is practically absent in "reflectors."

  • Color rendition is therefore superior in reflectors.
  • For a given power of magnification, reflecting telescopes are more compact than refractors
  • Reflecting telescopes "give more bang for the buck.".

Refractor Telescopes
Refractors are less affected by atmospheric instabilities making them perfect for observing the Moon and planets. Perfect for first-time and novice astronomers, small refractors are lightweight, portable and require very little maintenance. And, if you're interested in viewing both land and celestial objects, refractors are equipped for both uses.

Reflector Telescopes
Reflectors feature larger apertures for a wide range of viewing at an affordable price. Designed with the eyepiece located at the top of the tube, reflectors are more comfortable to use for viewing night-sky objects such as nebulae, the Moon, planets and galaxies. Reflectors tend to be heavier and larger than refractors.

Eyepieces
Lower power eyepieces provide a wider field of view and a brighter image making them ideal for viewing the full Moon and planets, star clusters, nebulae and the constellations. To focus in on the finer details of the Moon and planets such as mountains, ridges and craters, use an eyepiece with higher magnification.

MOUNTS
There are two basic types of telescope mounts, the altazimuth and the equatorial. Altazimuth mounts are the easiest to maneuver and are ideal for first-time astronomers. Equipped with a manual control or motor drive that allows you to follow the movement of objects across the night sky, equatorial mounts are ideal for more experienced astronomers.

When you are doing your telescope research, please be sure to visit our Telescope FAQ!  Ready to buy a telescope?  Visit our Telescope and Spotting Scope Departments!  Want to read about Hubble Telescope, click here.