As a beginner astronomer, buying a telescope will provide you with your basic needs; after all, there is no perfect telescope. However, when we really get down to it, you’ll find that choosing a telescope tailored to your needs, lifestyle, and budget will take your experience to the next level. Read on to learn how to choose the right telescope for backyard observation.
Decide What You’ll Use it For
If you don’t care to photograph or record your observations, then your telescope will simply be for viewing purposes; almost any telescope is suitable. However, if you require a telescope with more strength and magnification, you’ll need an aperture size of at least 70-mm – more on aperture sizes later in this guide. If you will be using a device such as a smartphone to record your viewing session, you’ll want a telescope that’s suitable for viewing and recording purposes. Therefore, you’ll need a smartphone mount on your telescope to ensure the images and videos aren’t distorted. If your intended purpose with your telescope is for astrophotography, consider a telescope with an equatorial mount that has features such as motorized controls or slow motion for capturing celestial bodies in motion. Furthermore, always consider a telescope’s portability if you’ll be using it in various locations.
Know the Various Types of Telescopes
There are three types of telescopes: a refractor, reflector, and a compound telescope. A refractor uses a lens as its objective to form an image without inverting the image before it reaches the eye. A refractor is best for observing the planets and moon, but may not suffice to spot objects deep in the sky.
On the other hand, reflector telescopes are ideal for deep viewing of faint objects, providing better focus than a refractor would. This type of telescope does not use a lens; instead, its mirrors direct light from the sky, inverting the image. However, with no lens, you risk internal components accumulating dust and dirt, so be sure to keep your telescope clean.
Finally, the compound telescope combines some elements of a reflector and a refractor. Primarily suitable for photography, compounds use a mirror with a central hole to project incoming light on a secondary mirror to focus. That light is reflected back through the central hole to the focuser at the back of the telescope.
Different telescope types will allow you to see astronomical objects in the sky, but you might not know what you’re looking at. To fully enjoy the experience, the astronomers from https://lovethenightsky.com/ recommend taking a free astronomy mini-course. It won’t cost you a dime and you’ll gain some knowledge for free. You’ll get to stargaze and identify all the planets, spot constellations, and notice patterns among the stars like a true backyard astronomer.
Know the Types of Telescope Mounts
There are different types of telescope mounts to take into account when choosing a telescope:
• Altazimuth mounts are used on tripod or tabletop telescopes and can be moved horizontally or vertically.
• Equatorial mounts must align with the Earth’s axis for the scope to follow moving objects in the sky. These mounts are ideal for photography.
• Motorized mounts are more expensive, but are worth it as they operate automatically once an astronomical object or the coordinates of an object have been selected. This saves you the hassle of moving or resetting your telescope accordingly.
Consider Your Experience Level
Your experience level should factor in the decision-making process. A beginner will not need a complex telescope. As such, opt for a more affordable, straightforward model with an easily adjustable mount. Amateur users with some experience can invest in an equatorial mount to explore astrophotography. Experienced users who have engaged in backyard observation for a long time can invest in complex features to take their hobby to new heights like a model with an electronic touchpad to insert coordinates in the telescope and mount.
Aperture Size: The aperture, aka the objective, is the telescope’s lens or mirror depending on the type of telescope. The larger the size (which is typically measured in millimeters), the clearer objects will appear.
Magnification: Magnification increases with a change of its eyepiece and needs to increase along with the aperture size for clear vision. Don’t fall for specific magnification capacity on labels when narrowing your choices as even with the highest magnification, objects may appear blurry if it doesn’t match the aperture size.
Eyepieces: Eyepieces come in various sizes and determine your view of the sky. Make sure you compare the eyepiece size with the telescope’s focal length to ensure adequate magnification. Divide focal length with the eyepiece size to get total magnification.
A telescope is a delicate piece of equipment that provides enjoyment for a lifetime. Whether you’re an expert or amateur stargazer, finding a telescope that suits your observational needs, lifestyle, and budget is going to be beneficial. Therefore, refer back to this handy guide when looking for the right one to observe the night sky in all its glory.