Astronomical Society

of Long Island


So, what is a good “first telescope?”  Believe it or not, the first thing you should buy is a good pair of binoculars. Some binoculars are of better quality than others.  I used to suggest that a good choice would be 7x35 or 7x40.  I have since read several articles that say the BEST choice is 10x50, and I have found this to be good advice - The higher magnification gives more detail in the objects you observe.  There may be a bit more “shake” when holding them, but they are a superior choice.

Are You Thinking of Buying a Telescope?

You might think that this telescope would be a better choice, because it is shorter.  This is true.  However, this telescope is not very portable, so we will have to look for something else.

Photograph Copyright © 1989 Ken Spencer

This particular telescope is way too long, as you can see, so it would not be a good choice for a “first telescope.”

Copyright © 2009 Ken Spencer

Finally, a good choice of a telescope for the beginner!  Well, not really. Sadly, it is also not a good choice.  This scope has a very small aperture objective, and is on a small tripod which is liable to be difficult to point and to keep locked on to an object.  Additionally, the finder scope makes it almost impossible to find anything.

As for the telescope itself, a traditional choice is a simple 6” or 8” Dobsonian. They can be had for under $400. The 6” scope will be smaller and lighter, and easier to transport.  The 8” scope will show fainter objects better but will be heavier. It will also depend on where you expect to use the telescope - in your back yard, or will you have to transport the telescope by car to an observing site?  It is my personal opinion that you are better off WITHOUT a Go-To telescope.  They are more expensive, and are more complex and more difficult to learn to use.

Not having Go-To means that objects will be more difficult to find at first, but the advantage is, you end up learning more about the constellations and where to find objects. Your reward for hard work is a better knowledge of the sky.

If you have questions about the pros and cons of the different types of telescopes that you are thinking of buying, We may be able to help you.  It is likely that one of our members owns the type of telescope you are thinking of, and you can get to handle it and observe through it at a club observing session. If you don’t know where to begin, we have people experienced with most of the types of telescopes that are available.  If you are thinking of building a telescope, we have a number of experienced Amateur Telescope Makers in our club who can offer advice as well. Please come visit us and ask questions.  We all love to talk about telescopes and astronomy.

The Telrad Finder

This is a Telrad Finder.  Forty bucks. You NEED either a Telrad or a Rigel Quikfinder  if you own a telescope!

Click on the link below to find out why you need one of these.