Picking a telescope is a big decision. Before we get into the pros and cons of each type of telescope, here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind so you get the best equipment to fit your needs.
Binoculars are inexpensive, simple and easy to use, and yet bring in thousands of objects within our own Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. Every stargazer should own a pair. But there may come a time when you want to see more, when you want to see objects brighter and bigger and farther way. That’s when you want to consider a telescope. A short word of advice here first…
The bright stars return to the southern skies in summer. From the northern horizon, overhead, and down to the southern horizon you can follow a bright string of stars from Rigil Kent to Capella. This string of bright stars follows a fairly thick band of fainter stars along the same north-south path as the Milky Way followed in the winter months. This summer band of stars is also part of the Milky Way, but here we look in the other direction along the flat plane of our galaxy away from the center. While the star clouds here are not as thick, there are many bright foreground stars that render the sky this season as beautiful as any visible from Earth.
The sky has made another quarter turn in the three months since August as the Earth moves around the Sun. The Southern Cross is just barely above the southern horizon now, and the splendid band of the Milky Way, along with the teapot-shaped constellation Sagittarius has moved towards the western horizon. Scorpius has already set by mid-evening.
Since autumn, the sky has appeared to make a quarter turn as a consequence of Earth’s revolution around the Sun. Crux and the Southern Pointers, the stars Rigil Kent and Hadar, have now migrated to the west but still remain well above the southwestern horizon. Antares in the constellation Scorpius lies just west of the zenith.
The bright star Achernar (“ACK-er-nar”) now rises in the southeast. This star marks the end of the long and otherwise dim constellation Eridanus, the River. High in the east, look for the star Fomalhaut (“FOAM-a-lot”), the brightest star in Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fishes. The misty patches of the Magellanic Clouds lie over the south-southeastern horizon.