Jump to content


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Looking for a new telescope for a beginner

  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 wgregb


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2020

Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:00 AM



We live in AZ about 30 miles south of Phoenix.  We are pretty rural so the light pollution is minimal but we still have to punch through the regular pollution.


I've got a budget of $400 and am looking for a setup that would allow us to see color in Jupiter and the rings around Saturn.  


Refractor scopes are the only experience I have with scopes.


Any help would be great.



#2 torex


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 17
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2020

Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:16 AM

If you are interested only watching planets light pollution wont effect your views. I would suggest to look at Schmidt-Cassegrain or maksutov telescopes.

Edited by torex, 30 November 2020 - 10:18 AM.

  • sevenofnine likes this

#3 Xeroid



  • *****
  • Posts: 2,051
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2013
  • Loc: USA

Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:20 AM

Due to the pandemic and increased at home hobbies, many astro vendors do no have inventory of scopes today.


However, as noted above, a used Celestron C6 in good condition might be a good starting scope.


Check out the Classified section on CN and if the deal is too good to be true, it isn't.

#4 RajG


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 168
  • Joined: 11 Mar 2020
  • Loc: NJ

Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:26 AM

At your budget I would suggest the Orion XT6 or XT8 dob. The XT6 costs around $300 (less when it goes on sale) while the XT8 costs about $400. I had an XT6 for years and it gave great views of Jupiter & Saturn, not to mention the moon. It's also able to split double stars easily, and you can also see galaxies and nebulae.


Note that with a refractor or SCT, you'll also need to factor in the cost of a mount, while the dobs come with an alt-az mount.

#5 Astro1957


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: 22 Oct 2020

Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:27 AM

I have a couple of dobsonian style reflecting telescopes including a 14.5 inch home made (not mirror) and an 8 inch Orion telescope. I would recommend a dobsonian style reflecting telescope for a $400 price because most of your money is going towards the mirror and not the mount, which is what you want. You want the maximum aperture you can get for your money (as well as mirror quality). The 8 inch Orion Skyquest was my first telescope. I have had it approx 15 years and I still use it. for a ~$400 price point I would highly recommend the same or something similar. you will not be disappointed looking at Jupiter and Saturn as well as deep sky objects such as brighter galaxies (M81, M82, M31) and the great orion nebula well in this scope in the area you describe. In a dark sky it performs great. Once you have it you can then sock some $$ into a couple of good eyepieces such as Televue or Explore Scientific. You wont be disappointed doing that either. The Plossl eyepieces it comes with are "ok", but not the best long term. best of luck. 


Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope



Satellite Beach Fl 

#6 gene 4181

gene 4181

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,208
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2013
  • Loc: n.e. ohio

Posted 30 November 2020 - 10:57 AM

  Color on the planets , rings of Saturn  6inch or 8in dob , SW 6inch ,315 $  or the XT6 and XT 8 , 299, 399 $ respectively

#7 Lazaroff



  • *****
  • Posts: 455
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2017

Posted 30 November 2020 - 11:18 AM

A 6- or 8-inch dob would be good choices, but don't overlook the smaller Orion XT4.5. Takes up less space, lighter in weight. (Easy to pick up and carry outside with one hand.) You'd have enough money left over in your budget to purchase a whole set of wide-angle eyepieces. This is a wonderful scope--but don't take my word for it. Check out these reviews.





#8 Bigal1817


    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 72
  • Joined: 04 Jan 2019
  • Loc: Colorado

Posted 30 November 2020 - 11:30 AM

I purchased the Meade Infinity 102mm as my first scope.  It's a great first scope and will give you exactly what you asked for, a refractor to show colors in Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.  You should also consider a moon filter with this purchase.  Enjoy! 

#9 rhetfield



  • *****
  • Posts: 1,241
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 30 November 2020 - 12:00 PM

Keep in mind that many new scopes will come with only 1 or 2 eyepieces - a low power and a mid power.  To maximize the scope's capabilities, plan on getting a high power eyepiece and a 2x barlow (preferably one that the lens comes out to form a 1.5x).  Then add a variable polarizer to cut glare on bright planets and the moon and a UHC filter to help with nebulas.  If it is a 6" or bigger scope, you will want it to have a 2" focuser to increase field of view and a 2" wide angle eyepiece.  All told, budget $200-300 for accessories.


For a general purpose scope to look at both planets and DSO's, you would want to aim for a shorter scope.  Something in the F5-F8 range.  I like F5-F6 for general purpose.  Outside of that range, the scope becomes specialized in either DSO or planetary viewing and does less well outside of the specialty.


For a total budget of $400, look at something like a AWB OneSky/Heritage 130 or a zhumell 130 ($200).  Otherwise a used 6" or 8" dob.  Then add the $200 in accessories.


Also think about mount stability and how you will find things.  In your price range, manufacturers tend to skimp on mounts and they end up wobbly.  Dobs are more stable.  For finding things, DIY degree circles on dobs perform as well as pretty much anything else:  https://www.cloudyni...degree-circles/


Lastly, pay attention to size and weight.  Scopes and mounts get big and heavy quickly.

#10 jandersonlee


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 19 Oct 2020
  • Loc: SF Bay Area

Posted 02 December 2020 - 11:06 PM

How old/young and physically able is the intended user? The AWB (Astronomers Without Borders) OneSky is a good lightweight choice, intended for a tabletop, but folks have made home-built stands for it for about $40 if you are handy with a hammer, saw, and screwdriver. It's a 5in reflector scope that will leave you money in your budget for accessories. The AWB OneSky is back-ordered, but the Sky-Watcher Heritage 130mm f/5 Tabletop Reflector may be in stock somewhere and is pretty much the same.


A 6in dobsonian for around $300 will also be easy enough to move around and still leave you some money for a few extras. (A sky chart, a good barlow, a higher power planetary eyepiece, a good 90 degree diagonal, etc.) 


Avoid cheap alt-az or german equatorial tripod scopes.


Don't believe you need to start with a full set of filters, and doodads, as birthdays, holidays, and just-because are occasions to fill in the gaps once you discover what you are missing. I bought a whole set of filters and hardly ever used any of them.


I "went big" on my first scope and bought a 10 inch dob, which ended up being to heavy for me to comfortably move around. Some folks have a driveway with a view of the sky and put wheels and (removable) handles to move a big scope in and out of the garage, but that won't work in my case, so the scope mostly sits there gathering dust.


Even if you get the bug and buy a bigger scope later, a smaller 5in or 6in starter scope that is easy to move and set-up will get tons of use on the days you don't have time to set up the big guns. The best scope is the one you are willing to set up and use most often.

#11 ShaulaB



  • *****
  • Posts: 2,650
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Missouri

Posted 02 December 2020 - 11:19 PM

The bigger the aperture (diameter), the more detail you will see. It is a law of physics. Going for a 6 inch or larger Dobsonian from a reputable vendor is the best path.

In Arizona, there are lots of amateur astronomers. Get in contact with local clubs. Somebody might be wanting to sell what you need.

If you go for new, it is best to buy from a reputable vendor like Astronomics, our host here, or Orion Telescopes. If you buy from Amazon, you will get no customer service, as they know less than diddly about telescopes.

#12 wgregb


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2020

Posted 04 December 2020 - 05:15 PM

Thanks for all the input.  I think I will go with the XT8 once they are available.  In the meantime I'll pull out the binocs.

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Recent Topics

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics