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Beginner Telescope recommendations?

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Hello Stargazers! I would like to buy a telescope for my boyfriend who is a budding astronomer. I can't afford the mega professional brands, but nor do I want to waste money on something which won't work very well. Do you have any recommendations for a good mid-range telescope for a beginner to operate? Also, which are the best star maps or star charts online resources to use? Thank you!!!

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Hi nellzim and welcome, You don't say where you are, which may be important if you can get to one of the few astronomy retailers in the country.  Then you can see a selection of 'scopes and chat t

Hi nellzim and welcome to ems

As for a telescope it all depends on how much money you have to spend. 

Skywatcher scope are a very good brand and come as a very reasonable cost. 

Anyway as I've said if you give a price range then people in this forum will give  you plenty of great advice. 


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Hi, you need to give us some guidance as to how much money you want to spend?

Maps etc... Try Stellarium, its a free online live planetarium that most of us use.

Books, 'Turn Left at Orion' is a good start I think..




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Hi nellzim and welcome,
You don't say where you are, which may be important if you can get to one of the few astronomy retailers in the country. 
Then you can see a selection of 'scopes and chat to the staff.  Lots of things to consider, some obvious, some not so e.g.

  • Where will it be used?  
  • Is easy transportation important?  
  • Where will it be stored when not in use?
  • Viewing with Mk 1 eyeball or astro-photography?
  • New or secondhand?
  • Main targets: planets, stars or deep-sky objects like nebulae?  Is daytime use (e.g. nature-watching) important?
  • Does it have to be a telescope or would a good pair of binoculars do the job?
  • etc...

Alternatively (and maybe as a first step) have a look at FLO's Beginner Scopes page: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes.html

Online bits:
Weather forecasting: http://clearoutside.com/forecast/52.77/-1.21?view=midday
Planetarium: https://www.simulationcurriculum.com/products-mobile-apps.html (apps for iOS or Android)


Hope that helps and come back for more info.

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Don't buy from department stores such as Argos, John Lewis etc as the scopes are sometimes not as good as they advertise. Have a look at First lIght Optics, they are very good and only sell reliable scopes. 




As others have said stick to a brand like Skywatcher and you won't go far wrong.

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Hi Nellzim and welcome to the forum.

Firstly, well done on doing your research and asking for advice, I wished I had done that in the first place and saved myself frustration and money.

All of the above advice is good and says it all really.


The general rule of thumb is buy the biggest aperture you can afford, be it a mirror or a lens. This allows the maximum amount of light to get to the eyepiece to be able to see what you are looking for. Don't get confused by the branding saying it has massive magnification, that's misleading and usually the wrong thing to do.

With any scope in the UK they work best between X50 and about x150 unless you get a very rare night where the atmosphere is so still and transparent then you could push it a bit more, pretty much unheard of though.

I would, on my own experience, steer clear of GoTo mounts, they are good in theory but can take some setting up and are usually at the expense of the optics. You want to be able to see stuff, so put the money into the optics. It won't take long to learn your way round the sky, and as you requested a great star atlas is one you can take outside with you. I use this one. The Sky and Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas.




It's got bags of information in it, easy to use and as it has plasticised pages it won't go soggy. Have a look round and get one at a reasonable price as some unscrupulous sellers want an arm and a leg for it. 


What I would suggest is that you find a scope within you budget and then ask back on here as to whether or not it's suitable or not. We would rather you be confident that what you buy is going to do what it says on the tin rather than being a waste of money.


As already mentioned, Stellarium is a great and easy to use free piece of software. That's handy for finding your way round when it's cloudy. Yes, like now! 😆




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I would start him off with binoculars, such as 12x50s. This means an aperture of 50mm (about 2 inches) and a magnification of 12 times. This can show the following:


Lunar craters

Jupiter's brightest moons

Star clusters (such as the Pleaides (Seven Sisters))

The Andromeda Galaxy and, with practice, some of the other brighter galaxies

Nebulae, such as the Orion Great Nebula

Double stars

Occasional comets


The main thing binoculars cannot do is show detail on planets but it takes a long time to run out of things to look at.


I also recommend a book or few and the Cambridge Star Atlas. This will show you things to look at. If you travel, you can often see objects that are invisible from the UK. My binoculars have been round our planet a few times.

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