Guide to Buying Your First Telescope

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The Basics

Being part of the Canterbury Astronomical Society I get to talk to many amateur astronomers both with years of experience and just starting out. Not too long ago, I fell into the category of just starting out. Unfortunately, I purchased my first telescope before joining the society and made a bad choice and ended up with a telescope that was bad for the planets, and not good for putting a camera on (not a big deal if you don’t want to do astrophotography). Although the views I got of the moon through it, while not the best I have seen since then, opened the world of astronomy to me.

It is easy to be mesmerised by images of the vast unknown you see online. However, it is important to realise that these images are not an accurate representation of what you will see when looking through a telescope with your eyes. Unless you use a camera on the end of the telescope then you will see exactly what you expect!

This is not to say that telescopes are a waste of time, you may not see the colours of distant gas clouds called nebula. What you do see, is the universe, through your own eyes. To see gas clouds, although black and white, that are thousands of light years away will quickly blow your mind. To see a galaxy, billions of stars, millions of light years away, will put a new perspective on your life and you will appreciate how delicate our little planet is.

The planets of our solar system can look amazing from a beginner’s telescope, if you get the right kind. Simply put, the longer the focal length, that being the distance from the opening of the telescope to the eye piece, the bigger the planets will appear. The rings of Saturn, the red spot and moons of Jupiter, the crescent of Venus (that’s right Venus just like our Moon has phases) and the polar ice caps of Mars can all be revealed!

A cheap telescope like our Saxon 707 Refractor Telescope will reveal detail in the planets. For something higher quality, our Saxon AstroSeeker 127mm Computerised Go-To Telescope will be even better with its extra-long focal length it achieves through bouncing the light with mirrors inside the tube.

There is no one telescope that does everything but we sure can help you find one that suits your needs.