In the first article about suggested beginner telescopes, you got a few suggestions for scopes under $500. If your budget extends to the $1,000-$1,500 range, and you value portability, a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with computer control is worth consideration. Celestron and Meade are the kings of this type of telescope, and both have interesting offerings. Here are three choices, all with sold alt-azimuth mounts that are good for visual observation.
Now let’s get down to some specific suggestions for telescopes and accessories. These are suggestions only. You don’t have to get the particular brands or exact telescopes mentioned here. But these are good guidelines, and these telescopes and accessories have served thousands of stargazers well. The suggested telescopes in this article will cost less than about $500. The prices listed here are in U.S. dollars and are approximations of prices available at telescope dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Cost of shipping is not included. Prices in other countries will vary.
Other than a telescope and mount, you need to have a few accessories such as extra eyepieces, a good finder, a map, and perhaps a light-pollution filter. Here are some ideas for the best accessories to complement your telescope…
The optics of a telescope are important. But even the most expensive telescope tube isn’t of much use if it is not on a solid mount that points it accurately anywhere in the night sky. The mount is as important as the optics of a telescope. It must be solid and stable. If you have great optics on a shabby mount, you will still not see much because the image in the field of view will bounce and shake and make it impossible for you to see any detail. Most telescopes, especially scopes aimed at beginners, include a mount when you buy them; smaller scopes, especially high-end refractors, may just have mounting rings or plates which allows them to be attached to a mount which you buy separately.
Before you drop a week’s salary on your first good astronomy telescope, here’s one essential point you must understand. It may seem strange to start here… but once you understand this point, the rest of this guide will make sense. The fact is, most beginners believe the purpose of a telescope is to magnify objects… to make them appear bigger. This is not true. So what, then, is the real purpose of a telescope?