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Help w/ Purchasing a New Telescope Under K

Need our opinion on a telescope Optics Planet has on sale, go ahead and ask! Post some hints and tips on various telescope brands and configuration.

Help w/ Purchasing a New Telescope Under $1K

Postby Neophyte_Astronomer on Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:48 pm

I am sorry to ask the same questions as others, but trying to decide the best telescope for under $1000 is giving me a headache – it is stressful believe it or not to make the right decision in this tough economy.

About a week ago, I purchased a Power Seeker 60 AZ for $60 from Hobby Town, USA.

My main goal was to see if I would like it before jumping on board w/ astronomy.

I love it (astronomy), but it seems I am not getting out of it what I really want w/ the $60 telescope – you get what you pay for so to speak.

I have looked at different web-sites, tried comparisons, etc; and the more I review it, the bigger my headache is getting because I am confused.

(I have never bothered w/ astronomy before and I am in my early 40s and have enjoyed the relaxation after a hard day’s work this past week and the software “The Sky X” has been a big help.)

After all of the comparisons, the best price for performance and the ability to grow into astronomy for a long time before upgrading again seems to be the “Meade ETX-125 PE UHTC Astro Telescope Premier Edition.”

(Celestron NexStar 5SE seemed to have more negative reviews and/or problems.)

If so, should you go ahead and purchase the different eyepieces ?

Which eyepieces should a person consider buying and what is the purpose for it in laymen’s terms?

(I would prefer detail w/ a wide angle if possible.)

I would love to find the “best bang for my buck" for a telescope since I am a very pragmatic person.

(All the bells and whistles does not matter to me since I prefer quality and do not mind investing the time to run to the software, find the different objects to view, and go back outside and find it – its part of the enjoyment for me this past week.)

BTW in case this makes a difference, I live outside of the city in WV and light pollution is at a minimum.

Thanks in advance for your assistance!

Postby Jne_K on Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:38 am


There is no best bang for the buck, since selecting a telescope is as much a matter of personal preference as to what you want to see, your observing style, especially your observing location and many other factors. Buy the largest telescope you can afford (not the one that advertises the most power) that has all the features you want is my standard advice, but the features you want (not the features I want) is the key.

The ETX-125 is a super choice in a mid-priced telescope if you want a computer, if you want a great scope for planets and the moon, a very portable telescope, but only fair for deep-sky work, okay for astrophotography - enough to get you started and so on. Highly recommended if that's waht you want.

First thing you ALWAYS add with a serious telescope are more eyepieces and, again, a lot of personal preference. Wide-angle usually equates to expensive - that wider angle is one reason why, so proceed, carefully. I usually recommend some quality standard grade eyepieces until you have some experience. You will then be in a better position to decide which $200-$300 eyepiece (average price for wide-angle, quality eyepiece - per each) you want to buy. For that scope, I like the Meade Series 5000 kit, 07678

Since telescope eyepieces are the most important accessory for any telescope, you may also wish to do more reading with my article, Ten Telescope Eyepiece Questions
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Help w/ Purchasing a New Telescope Under $1K

Postby Neophyte_Astronomer on Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:02 pm

Thank you for providing excellent customer service and taking the time to answer some questions w/o providing a ‘canned’ response! :D

As I feared (hence getting a “headache” from “analysis paralysis”), there is not a best bang for the buck telescope since it is all about preference.

It was a truly a big surprise for me to also find out it is not about magnification power.

In fact, I almost gave up the first night last week – and seriously thought about throwing the $60 telescope in the trash - since my first viewing experience ever was through the 4mm eyepiece with the 3x Barlow attached due to believing it was all about magnification power.

I could not find anything (including earth’s moon in front of me) and took the telescope inside to make sure there was not some type of obstruction of the viewing lens.

Ironically, my preference has been the 20mm eyepiece w/o the Barlow attached.

I really believe the best telescope for the time being is an all around telescope in order to make an informed choice in the future.

Thanks for letting me know the advantages and disadvantages of the ETX-125 since – while I would prefer deep-sky-viewing on the surface – I probably do not know what I am looking at anyway w/o a trained eye. :oops:

Thanks for the article to read concerning the eyepieces and the suggestion for the MS-5000-07678 since it will help w/ the FOV and provide sharpness & contrast.

It was very beneficial.

I will take the time to reflect on the suggestions this weekend and purchase the telescope from your agency either Monday or Tuesday.

Sometimes in the end, finding the right provider for services is just as important as the product and I feel comfortable w/ :D

Postby Neophyte_Astronomer on Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:16 pm

Last Post – Just wanted to share a unique but simplistic method of how I finally determined the best telescope for myself and some supplemental information; if you like, just jump to the methodology section for the general idea.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to sway a purchasing decision, but to provide another useful (?) tool for determining the best telescope to purchase based on personal preferences since I could not find anything to put all of the pieces together. It was (and still is) all Greek to me about the different types of telescopes and was more confused until I put the telescope specifications side by side for comparison in an Excel spreadsheet. I am NOT associated w/ and this post could be deleted or used however they want or possibly take my idea and develop a small program to assist people in making a decision for purchasing a telescope. My goal was to help someone else who may be suffering from analysis paralysis and do not mind developing his or her own trend analysis to purchase the right telescope at the right price w/ the right features.

As you can tell from the above the posts, I am a neophyte to astrology and trying to figure out the best telescope (price for performance/best bang for my buck) for me made my eyes glaze over because I thought it was going to be simple.

As I read many reviews, there is a small group of people – such as myself – who have analysis paralysis.

While it is true there is not a best bang for the buck because features are very important for the continuation of astrology, you can still develop a trend analysis w/ a little bit of effort.

The most unexpected, surprising trend analysis – but should have known after reading various articles on “How to Buy a Telescope for the Beginner” – is the weight of the telescope compared to the price.

(It appears the weight of the telescope is the overall controlling factor since it determines the type of telescope, mount, features, etc.)

For instance (using the outliers for the weight and price on a Bell Curve in order to NOT influence the purchasing decision of someone), the Vixen A80Mf Telescope with Star Book and GP2 Mount 39502 weighs 5.50 pounds with an 80mm aperture ($12.49 per mm for the aperture and $181.64 per pound for weight convenience) and the Sky-Watcher 12 Inch Dobsonian Telescope S11740 weighs 113 pounds for the shipping weight with an 305mm aperture ($3.26 per mm for the aperture and $8.81 per pound for weight inconvenience) and both of the products cost about $999.

(The convenience factor is similar to purchasing a 24oz bottle of soda for the same price as a 2-liter at a convenience store.)

Bigger is better for the aperture; but once again, features are the most important factor for an individual and there are compromises for making the best choice.

As you read from various articles, you hear you should buy the largest telescope w/ the features you want.

(The authors of “How to Buy a Telescope for beginners” are hesitant to provide a recommendation because it is impossible to deal w/ all of the various factors; and the most important part, is to ensure someone will continue in astrology and not give up after the first month or so.)

This is what lead to finding a unique way to determine the perfect telescope for me (or someone w/ analysis paralysis).


Excel Spreadsheet

Header (cells A1 to S1) contained the basic information for the telescope after determining the price range ($500-$1000 for me):

- Name
- Type
- Aperture MM (inch*25)
- Aperture Inch (mm/25)
- Focal Length
- F-Ratio
- Highest Practical Power
- Mount
- Focus Diameter
- Shipping Pounds
- Tube Pounds
- Price
- Average Dollars Paid per Aperture (Amount Paid Divided by the Aperture Size)
- Average Dollars Paid per Pounds (Amount Paid Divided by the Shipping Weight)
- User Review Score Average (average of the average from various sites)
- General Features (such as a computer for finding the object in space w/ GoTo - electronic, hand controller, or manual positioning of the telescope, etc.)
- Automatic Disqualification (such as the weight or size of the telescope exceeding the physical capacity to transport it)
- General Personal Comments
- URL for the telescope (Internet Link to the Product at and

Used a Likert Scale (level of agreement to a statement) for the specifications of the telescope and other general features I wanted (or classified as must haves, maybe later, and luxury) such as a computer, portability, observation use of the telescope, etc. and

Weighted the Result Set for personal preferences to keep all things equal for line item categories that could have been placed in super-categories.

Please Note: Determine the price range for your telescope and compare the telescopes side by side in the spreadsheet w/ the major categories - the Likert Scale and weighting the result sets is not necessary because all kinds of trends jumps out at you anyway – I just went overboard w/ the analysis and a grid w/ advantages and disadvantages is fine as well.

I found out my choice (and probably the majority of people) of a telescope depended on – more than likely - gender, health, age, personality, vehicle(s), where you live (city, suburb, or out in the country), backyard space, and experience w/ astrology.

A person may ask why the weight of the telescope and personal characteristics matters?

In keeping w/ the outliers for the weight of a telescope and under $1K in order to NOT sway someone’s choice of a telescope, the Sky-Watcher 12-Inch Dobsonian Telescope S11740 has some very “heavy” requirements.

A person would have to be - more than likely - in good health, probably a male between 18 to 50 to haul around the telescope w/ a shipping weight of 113 pounds, have full size truck/SUV or large vehicle, and be a DIY (do it yourselfer) since it is a manual telescope for identifying objects in the sky, and/or have a good size backyard.

(As you can tell due to the aperture size, viewing distances of far away galaxies w/ your little backyard Hubble is the advantage of the Sky-Watcher 12-Inch Dobsonian Telescope S11740, but the disadvantage is the weight. My grandmother and teenage daughter are in good health for their age, but neither one of them could lug around something that heavy for their viewing pleasure. On the other hand, the advantage of the Vixen A80Mf Telescope is its weight and portability, but not able to view far away galaxies unless you really know what you are doing and looking at.)

In conclusion for the trend analysis I discovered – and NOT wanting to spoil the results/trends for someone or influence anyone w/ their purchasing decision - there is a reason why the prices of most telescopes for the beginner are marketed at or around $6.59 +/- $.20 per mm for the aperture size.

Personally, the best match for me was…the Sky-Watcher 12-Inch Dobsonian Telescope S11740. But as you can tell, it is not for everyone due to the “heavy” requirements of the telescope. My heart is still set on the ETX-125 and I will purchase it at a later date, but my mind is set on the Sky-Watcher 12-Inch Dobsonian Telescope. I believe it will give a good range of a variety of telescopes for different viewing purposes because the number one goal is to ENJOY watching the sky. And the greatest discovery after reading tons of articles is that a lot of astronomers have multiple telescopes for different purposes and no one telescope meets all of your features – compromises abounds and it looks like I will end up w/ at least three for my viewing pleasure. I can not wait to order my telescope either Monday or Tuesday and enjoy a brand new hobby for life.

Postby Jne_K on Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:47 am


Thanks for the info on choosing a telescope for astronomy (not astrology, common mixup, but two very different things). Very nice, logical methodology that many of our readers will find helpful. Well done.

Weight is certainly a consideration, but keep in mind that you cannot use the published weight, literally, since telescopes are modular in nature, meaning that parts separate easily for transport and setup. That dob you like and it is a good choice is never moved in one piece, but rather the optical tube in piece and the cradle (mount) in the other. Equatorial mounted scopes are usually moved in three pieces or sections. Another option on a truly large scope is to build a permanenet shed for it or mount it on wheels for easy moving.
Thanks for posting with us
Joanie K - Your personal optics expert


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Made Purchase Today - Thanks for Your Help

Postby Neophyte_Astronomer on Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:21 pm

Thanks Joanie for all of your help!

It was really appreciated.

I finally settled on - and ordered today - the Sky Watcher 10 Inch Dobsonian Telescope S11720 w/ the Celestron Telescope Eyepiece / Filter Accessory Kit bundle.

It was a lot of information to process in a short amount time to ensure capability w/ my personality and needs.

Thanks again for all of your help, understanding, and excellent customer service!

Postby Jne_K on Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:28 pm

You are very welcome and thanks for the order, too. I have a soft spot for Dobs. Spent many years with a 10" Meade dob and can't even count all the things I saw with that old scope. Enjoy.
Thanks for posting with us
Joanie K - Your personal optics expert


Phone: (800) 504-5897
Fax: (847) 919-3003
Site Admin
Posts: 7665
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2003 3:09 pm