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Bringing the Universe to Your Classroom!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Buying A Good Telescope - One Very Good Option

Thinking about buying a *good* telescope someday?

I'm glad you are because I've got some news for you about telescopes, generally.

Most people who are considering having a telescope in their lives, look for them in a department store. Now, department stores are great! At least, I love them. But they are limited in scope (oh, what a perfect spot for that pun!), naturally, where specialty items are concerned - and telescopes are a big one.

Some of the names of the telescopes found, in some department stores, will be familiar to you, such as, "Celestron®", or Meade®, or Tasco®. But, though these are three of the *big* names in telescopes, the models you'll find are built for the masses - for those who aren't likely to be very discerning, in an area you really *need* to be very discerning with. The associated advertising agencies use a factor in telescopes regarding magnification as their main selling point which is, inherently, not exactly 'wrong' - but not relevant, either.

Ken from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars Demonstrates the XT-8 SkyQuest Plus Dobsonian Telescope Image by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.
Ken from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars Demonstrates the XT-8 SkyQuest Plus Dobsonian Telescope
Image by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.

You'll see such wording on their packaging, as: "300x",  "300-power", "300 times", etc., meaning, that the instrument will/can magnify an object to 300 times its normal diameter, or, it's apparent size as seen with the unaided eye. DON'T, DON'T, DON'T DO IT! There are two areas that I know of, personally, where the quality of an instrument can make or break a beginner, particularly, and especially children: guitars, and telescopes...

*Any* telescope, can achieve *any* of the "powers", or magnifications, available to it; all you have to do, is, insert a 'high-power' eyepiece, known as an 'ocular', into the focuser's draw-tube; most telescopes are supplied with a small assortment of eyepieces of various focal-lengths, which will change the 'power' (in that context) of the instrument. That action can make, or break a telescope. The real 'power' of a telescope is in the size of its aperture; i.e., in the diameter of its primary mirror or lens, depending on the type of telescope it is. Having a better quality instrument will be the difference between one that is actually used, and one that ends up in the attic or basement - collecting dust - for the next 25 years. I've seen it myself, and it happened to me - but only once - as a kid. I was fortunate enough to have the presence of mind to research telescopes, and decide on one that I could really use.

If you're considering a telescope for a child and are concerned about putting up an amount of money, for something that may just end up getting abandoned, then you need to avoid the department stores, absolutely. You'll save money and get a far better instrument from a well-known, reputable manufacturer of telescopes for the amateur astronomer.

Orion Telescopes and Binoculars is such a place, and, in my opinion, is who you want - take my word for that. Every astronomer, amateur or professional, would most likely agree with this if they're at all familiar with this company. There are a few other manufacturers of good telescopes out there (but not many), but Orion stands out, by their reputation for integrity, alone. They are willing to go the extra mile to satisfy a customer. Their company was started by amateur astronomers, for amateur astronomers. I've been dealing with these telescope 'specialists', since 1982.

The two scopes shown below, are, probably, THE best buys in telescopes, period. They are, *real* optical instruments, rather than the *toys* found in the department stores that, I've referred to. It IS possible to find a good telescope at a department store - but it isn't likely, or worth the risk.

Jupiter and one of its moons imaged through an Orion XT-6 SkyQuest  Imaged by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.
Jupiter and one of its moons imaged through an Orion XT-6 SkyQuest
Imaged by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.

The scopes shown in this article, are two configurations of the Orion XT-6, and Orion XT-8 'SkyQuest' series of Dobsonian-mounted, Newtonian, reflector telescopes. The numbers refer to the diameter of the instruments primary apertures, respectively. As telescopes go, they would be considered *medium-sized* telescopes. Moreover, scopes in this size range are perfectly suited to adults, as well, of course. They are in every respect - "two steps" up from the typical, department store telescope. With these instruments, you will not only be able to observe the moon and planets, you will see many of the gaseous, hydrogen nebulosities of the Milky Way, known as, "nebulae", as well as many of the other galaxies, beyond our Milky Way galaxy! And - you're not going to beat their price. Orion also makes smaller, and less expensive instruments, all the way down to tabletop telescopes, and - they make much larger instruments, as well - up to 16"-inch, entirely computerized, observatory-sized beauties!


Jupiter imaged through an Orion XT-8 SkyQuest Plus - Image by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.
Jupiter imaged through an Orion XT-8 SkyQuest Plus - Image by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.


You can download one of their catalogs, at www.telescope.com

So - good luck, and good judgment, and, as we say:

"Clear Skies!", to you!

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