Yet another Newbie
I am looking for a beginner/intermediate [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/telescopes.html]telescope[/link] in the $400 to $500 range and frankly, I am overwhelmed by the choices. Perhaps that's a bit much to pay for a newbie but again, the midlife thing. Can you please help me figure out which direction I should take? Something computerized that has the potential for upgrades would be great.
I do realize that the first steps I will need to take is to learn more about the night sky and some of the more basic fundamentals to viewing the stars, but I need a place to start and I've found you!
- Ding Chavez
First, welcome to astronomy. It's an interest that can last a lifetime. I've been doing astronomy for over forty years and still can't get enough.
In that price range, I like the Celestron Nexstar 4SE. It's light, portable, convenient to setup and use, requires next to nothing in terms of maintenance and is optically well-corrected, thanks to its Maksutov design. Then too, the Sky Align is an easy, user-friendly computer. Be an excellent choice on the moon and planets, and do a fair job on deep-sky objects.
Also be sure to budget for more eyepieces - you'll need more than one to cover all the bases in astronomy. Two eyepieces and a barlow will do the job. That scope comes with a 25mm eyepiece, so add a 2x barlow and something like a 14 or 15mm Plossl, even something as basic as a Celestron Omni and you're set. For more on eyepieces, see my article, Telescope Eyepiece Questions You may also find Telescope FAQs and A Dozen Telescope Observing Tips for Beginners to be very helpful.
I strongly recommend a basic book on astronomy and you can't do better than Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson, now in its third edition. There are also too many great astronomy websites to list, by Sky & Telescope (magazine and website) and Astronomy.com (magazine and website) have been the two standards in amateur astronomy for many, many years. You should also browse the Hubble website. No, you won't see those kinds of images in the telescope eyepiece, but it will inspire you to get out and take a look, if nothing else.
Hope this helps.
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