© Galloway Astronomy Centre 2016
All images are copyright – M Alexander unless otherwise stated
As well as being bought by the user many telescopes are bought as a present by a
partner or family member. With all good intentions they person often knows little about
them and makers of some telescopes take advantage by claiming their telescopes provide
absurdly high magnification, such as "525x" or "675x" and with boxes illustrated with
It sounds and looks good, however, this is a sure sign of a poor quality telescope. They
can often be found in Department Stores or Supermarkets.
If you already have a telescope like the one on the right all is not lost.
There are some easy modifications which will help improve it. Click HERE for the
The main purpose of a telescope is NOT to magnify, but to gather faint light into the eye.
Therefore, the larger the lens or mirror of the telescope (known as aperture) the better
the view will be. But there is much more to choosing a telescope than this.
It is not possible to give you a complete guide in just one web page - this is why we run a
2 hour course on the subject, but here we will point out the important things you need to
Three points are
1) The child is looking at the wrong end. This is a Newtonian Reflector you view through
2) The tube cover is still fitted on the front
3) It is a poor telescope for many reasons
Buying the right telescope need not be a gamble. Take
advantage of my years of experience and possibly save
yourself hundred of pounds by ensuring you buy the right
telescope first time. That way you will get many nights of
enjoyment not ones of frustration.
A principle aim of the the Galloway Astronomy Centre has
always been to give the beginner help to get a good start in
the hobby. We carry that same principle into selling
telescopes. Since the GAC opened I have given advice on
telescopes to many guests which lead us to become a dealer
for Skywatcher telescopes.
We have a unique offer for you - stay at the Centre and under our beautiful dark skies
and try out examples of popular beginner telescopes such as the Skymax 127 Maksutov
or Explorer-130P with Synscan™ AZ Goto.
I have been observing the wonders of the night sky for over 40 years and in that time I
have used many different types of telescope. I am impressed with Skywatcher telescopes
throughout the comprehensive range they consistently offer very good quality at
At the end of 2013 we were approached by Celestron to become their only Scottish
specialist dealer. They also produced very good telescopes many with unique features.
It is important to remember that even though we are a dealer, this does not mean I can
only give advice on Skywatcher or Celestron telescopes. If another manufacturer best fits
your needs I’m happy to say so.
For first class service and advice please phone or e-mail we are only too pleased to talk
through your requirements.
A Guide to Buying a Telescope (Apologies that it is long, but it’s stuff should
If you cannot see at least three things
wrong in this image you definitely need
See bottom of page for answers.
Naming of Parts
A telescope has 4 main parts -A poor mount even with a
good telescope will wobble too much
Telescope - often called Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) -
Refractor, Reflector or Catadioptric
Mount - there are two main types Alt Az or Equatorial
Finderscope (or Red Dot Finder) used to locate the object you
want to look at.
Eyepieces, these ultimately effect how large the object looks.
ALL four items are important.
A poor mount even with a good telescope will wobble too much to be of use. Cheap small
aperture telescopes are simply not worth buying. If you have less than £175 to spend
then the best advice is to buy a good quality pair of 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars and a star
chart (we can advise on or supply these). Use the time you take to save more money by
learning more about the night sky.
Often misunderstood by new buyers is that the planets are very small and need at least
120 to 150 times magnification to give reasonable views. However, Galaxies, Star
Clusters or Nebulae are much larger and often viewed at 50 to 150 times magnification.
One telescope may not be able to achieve both these things.
What is There to See?
Most beginners start out looking at the Moon and brighter planets
(Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus). For these objects the focal
length of the telescope is most critical to allow sufficient
magnification of the image.
Later the beginner starts to look for star clusters, gas clouds
(called nebula) and galaxies collectively known as Deep Sky
Objects (DSOs) scattered across the sky. Too late they discover
their scope's lens or mirror is too small to show these well. For
these objects the aperture of the telescope is most critical.
If you want to see Deep Sky Objects and you live in or close to a large town or city
consider either a larger aperture telescope or a portable one (so you can take it away
from the lights). The Moon or planets are less effected by light pollution.
Next - The Basics
Tel: 01988 500594
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