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Bringing the Universe to Your Classroom!

Telescope Buyer's Guide

Image of Amateur Astronomer Observing Thru Telescope How Do I Choose the Right Telescope?

First backyard telescope and on a budget? Choose a Dobsonian. Interested mostly in viewing the moon and planets? Buy a refractor. Interested in viewing galaxies, nebula, and star clusters? Buy the biggest reflector you can afford - this will be a Dobsonian. Concerned about portability and weight but want a good all-around telescope? Buy a Schmidt-Cassegrain. Want absolute quality and money is no object? Buy an apochromatic refractor. This should also be your choice if you are serious about astrophotography.

Do's for Buying Telescopes

As a first backyard telescope, a 6" or 8" Dobsonian reflector offers great bang for the buck. On the refractor side, an 80mm on a stable mount is also an OK alternative first telescope. Plan on spending a minimum of $300 for a decent beginner's telescope. Get an oversized/overrated mount - telescope mounts MUST be sturdy. Stick with 1.25" size eyepieces at a minimum, stay away from 0.965" designs. Get a size and weight that you don't mind setting up or lugging around to remote sites. Select 2 (or 3) quality eyepieces and a Barlow lens. Lower-cost good-quality eyepieces are Plössl eyepieces. The Orion eyepiece & filter kit is also a great deal. Get a single-power, reflex finderscope.

Reference Orion's Telescope Buyers Guide for explanations on different telescope types and apertures.

Don'ts for Buying Telescopes

Don't buy a backyard telescope from a department store, nature-science store or toy store. These are totally unsuited for astronomy and will end up unused or in the trash. Don't buy any telescope that costs less than $200 unless you are a beginner learning the night sky. Stay away from 0.965" size eyepieces - 1.25" eyepieces are a minimum. Avoid getting so large and heavy of a telescope that you don't want to use or transport it around.

And finally...

Don't forget about binoculars! Typically used for terrestrial viewing, these can be great for viewing broad areas of the sky and viewing large objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy and Orion Nebula, as well as viewing the moon and satellites.


Insight Observatory is a proud affiliate of Orion Telescopes due to the quality and affordability of their products. Orion provides FREE shipping on orders $250.00 or more, Installment billing on orders $350.00 or more and no sales tax. Orion also allows you to "build the backyard telescope of your dreams".

Below are just a few of our staff recommendations for backyard telescopes by Orion...

Orion SkyQuest XT6 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Kit Orion StarSeeker IV 150mm GoTo Reflector Telescope
Orion SkyQuest XT6 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Kit Orion StarSeeker IV 150mm GoTo Reflector Telescope

Here are a few recommendations for the advanced amateur astronomer by Orion...

Celestron CGX 800 EdgeHD 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope Meade 12" LightBridge Dobsonian Reflector Telescope Celestron Omni XLT150 Refractor Telescope
Celestron CGX 800 EdgeHD 8 Meade 12 Celestron Omni XLT150 Refractor Telescope

For more information or questions regarding Orion Telescope products or telescopes in general, please contact us.