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How to Choose

How to ChooseIf you are new to the world of astronomy you may find the array of instruments and accessories rather daunting. But don’t worry, we are here to help. If you cannot find the information you require here, then please do contact us by email or phone us on 01342 837098. We have a well-earned reputation at Telescope House for putting even the most novice astronomer at ease. Our telescope section is made up of three sub sections -

Entry Level - Intermediate - Advanced

It does not really matter whether you have a large or a small budget, what's important is that you choose a telescope that satisfies your needs and initial abilities successfully so that you enjoy this engaging hobby that is astronomy.

Essentially modern telescopes fall into two categories, goto automated models or traditional manual telescopes that require some knowledge of the night sky.

Refractor Telescopes are the most recognisable type of instrument using a lens to gather light, these are generally available from 60mm apertures to around 152mm. For practical reasons and cost they are rarely seen larger than this but refractors are virtually maintenance free. Achromat refractors are a high contrast design but can suffer from chromatic abberation or false colour on brighter objects, recent advances in Apochromat designs have minimised this but prices are higher for these models.

Reflector Telescopes combine good value and ease of use with apertures ranging from around 80mm to some of the very largest amateur models of more than 400mm. Regarded as the best way to get maximum light grasp for your money some maintenance and cleaning of the optics are required. Reflectors provide good images that are free from false colour but are not quite as well corrected for coma than other designs.

Catadioptric Telescopes boast all the best features of modern designs and are available in various forms usually from 90mm to over 350mm apertures. With little maintenance and compact designs this is the logical choice for modern hi tech goto mounts and are the best selling designs with their all round capability. The catadioptric types commonly seen are Schmidt cassegrains, Maksutov cassegrains and Ritchey chretiens all of which are very well corrected optical designs further enhancing their universal appeal.

Mountings & Tripods
Telescopes usually come on a mounting and tripod offering the very important stable platform required for observing at high powers, the simplest form is an alt az mount which is a mount that allows manual movement of the instrument in altitutde and azimuth or simply put up down / left right. Dobsonian telescopes employ a version of the alt az mount in a large format allowing very large apertures to remain portable and affordable.

More useful is the driven mount in either the form of an equatorial mount or driven fork mount, these mounts once aligned will track objects and enable astro imaging of the night sky. Most driven mounts beyond entry level offer goto technology that after a simple alignment will find and track literally thousands of objects from their onboard databases.

About magnification
The first thing many beginners ask when buying their first telescope is how big does it magnify, this section explains what the really useful questions should be more info