The Astronomical Society of Long Island loves to help people new to the hobby. We are often asked for help with buying a first telescope.
The first three telescopes are considered “Grab and Go Scopes” – light enough for most adults to pick up and carry in one hand and manageable by many preteens. Next, while not quite as easily portable, the larger apeture will reach deeper and allow you to see more.
Lastly, those that are Tech/Computer Savvy might consider one of the last two entries utilizing either a Smartphone or onboard computer for locating objects. If you are not good with computers and spend more time fighting with the apps on your home computer and your smart phone, these are not a good choice for a first scope and would be better served with one of the first three entries.
The Celestron StarSense Explorer 102mm refractor offers an aperture that will provide good views of celestial objects like star clusters and brighter galaxies. The big difference with this telescope is that Celestron has integrated a frame that will hold your smartphone and created an app for most smartphones that will help guide you to the targets you want to view. Its folding tripod and two piece design make it easy to store away small and take on vacation. It includes all you need to get started.
The Meade ETX 125 Observer is a 5”/127 mm Maksutov-Cassegrain optical tube mounted on a dedicated GoTo mount.
Their compact size and easy to use handset make them a favorite for first scopes. The ETX 125 comes with a very strong/stable mount, red dot finder and eyepieces. The handset includes a database of 30,000 objects and hours of audio files that will tell you about the Moon, planets and deep sky objects.