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Buying a good telescope

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#1 JC0928!


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:11 PM

Good afternoon, I’m new to the forum, my name is Jorge. I’m trying to buy a good telescope that I can enjoy using and seeing the stars and planets. Can anyone suggest a good telescope that I should be looking to get? I’m new at this but don’t want to start looking to up grade the minute I get something that I could’ve avoid. Thanks.
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#2 EsaT


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:15 PM

Welcome aboard.


What's your budget?

Also where you live affects to what telescopes might be available (brands varying between countries) and light pollution level of more precise locations affects to what can be seen.

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#3 AGrayson


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:18 PM

I think an 8 inch dobsonian is the best bang for buck telescope you can get. The larger aperture will provide bright, detailed views and the medium focal length will provide a wide range of possible magnification.

We do need to know, what is your budget? how light polluted is your sky? Are you looking for something portable?

An 8 inch dob is relatively portable and extremely easy to use- I would suggest looking at the one below, I own one myself and absolutely love it, and I have yet to find someone who owns a dob and doesn't regret it.


Edited by AGrayson, 18 May 2024 - 07:18 PM.

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#4 JC0928!


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:19 PM

Thank you. I’m okay with a couple thousand dollars if it will perform well. I’m in South Florida, Miami, the Redlands area.

#5 AGrayson


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:21 PM

Not sure how light polluted that area is, but if you have a budget that high and want something large that will give you incredible views under dark skies, and are ok with something heavy, maybe even a 10 or 12 inch dobsonian.

There are goto telescopes you can purchase as well, but many people find them a hassle and just want to sit back and find the objects for themselves. A goto scope will find and track the object for you, but as I stated, many find the hunt for objects rewarding and just want something easy to use

Also, there are 10 and 12 inch versions of the scope I linked, the 10 is a mid range, you'll get great views with a little more work to transport. The 12 inch will be a pain to move around but delivers stunning views under dark skies. If you are under severe light pollution without access to reasonably dark skies consistently, then the 8 inch may be the way to go.

Edited by AGrayson, 18 May 2024 - 07:22 PM.

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#6 JC0928!


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:25 PM

Thank you for your prompt response and information. I’ll start looking at that one….

#7 csa/montana


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 07:49 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!  Since this forum is for non equipment discussion, your thread will be moved to the Beginners Forum.

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#8 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 18 May 2024 - 08:10 PM

I'll also suggest an 8" (or 10") Dob, a Newtonian reflector on an alt-azimuth Dobsonian mount, but with the addition of a ZWO Seestar S50 smart telescope.


An alternative would be a go-to 8 or 10" SCT (Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope).

Edited by Dave Mitsky, 18 May 2024 - 11:00 PM.

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#9 jupiter122


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 08:17 PM

If you are thinking of spending a few thousand dollars, I think that you should consider a good 8-10 SCT or Mak. They are far more compact and transportable than a Dob. (Dobs are transportable in your car but only if you are by yourself or have a truck or large SUV. Along with the base they’ll take up your entire backseat and trunk space.)
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#10 CarolinaBanker



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Posted 18 May 2024 - 08:32 PM

Do you have a backyard or are you in a condo? Do you have any physical limitations when it comes to carrying heavy or bulky items? Do you have a garage or storage area? Is a couple of thousand 2k or 5? What sort of car do you have to transport to a dark sky site? Since you say you want to see “stars and planets” I’m thinking you are likely looking at a generalist instrument that can perform reasonably well on Deep Space Objects, lunar, planetary, double stars and variable stars. Let me know if that’s right.
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#11 therealdmt



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Posted 18 May 2024 - 09:03 PM

Since your budget gives you some flexibility (a few thousand to work with instead of a few hundred), I’ll say that I went with a 4" ED doublet refractor, in my case a SkyWatcher 100ED. I’m quite  happy with mine and so am not changing, but if doing it over again now, I’d probably get the AT102EDL instead, mainly due to its wider field of view. Other choices are possible, too, but the main idea is that a 4" (100mm) ED doublet refractor can make for a nice portable, easy to use option. If you go this route, the next step is selecting a mount. If starting over, I might go with the StellarVue M2C https://www.stellarv...s-steel-tripod/

or stick with my SW AZ4 https://www.firstlig...t-az-mount.html (FLO ships internationally very smoothly)


I like my mounts basic, light and simple. Not all do though. If you prefer a computerized mount with GoTo and object tracking, there are lots of options. Be aware that computers will point you right to an object (and keep you on it if it’s a driven mount) but add computer-related complications. Anyway, depends on the kind of experience you want. There are in-between options involving what is called push-to, which can even just be done right from your smartphone.


The already mentioned 8" Dob provides more aperture and comes with the mounting system included, so provides the best bang for the buck. The mirrors will need some occasional adjusting, which can be confusing at first, but with patience it will be understood soon enough. The 8" size in the Dobsonian ("Dob") format is quite reasonably portable and this scope alone would have the capability to provide a lifetime of viewing for many (though of course some will eventually go bigger). Accordingly, this is a very popular way to get started.


A 6" SCT is another popular possibility you might consider.


Welcome aboard smile.gif

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#12 Jethro7



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Posted 18 May 2024 - 09:08 PM

Good afternoon, I’m new to the forum, my name is Jorge. I’m trying to buy a good telescope that I can enjoy using and seeing the stars and planets. Can anyone suggest a good telescope that I should be looking to get? I’m new at this but don’t want to start looking to up grade the minute I get something that I could’ve avoid. Thanks.

Hello JC0928!?

 Welcome to Cloudy nights. I will also cast a vote with Dave mitski, for an 8" to 10" Dob and a ZWO Seestar S50. First the bad news, this is what you are up against. You are located just to the North of Homestead, Florida. According to the Light pollution Map you are in a Bortle 7 to as high as Bortle 9 area  (the lower the number the better) depending where you reside. I live in a Bortle 8 zone in the North West Florida Panhandle. Viewing under heavy light pollution limits what you are able to view. You will be able to view the Moon, Bright Planets, Double Stars and a handful or so Showcase DSO's with no problem. Most other fainter DSO's will be hard or impossible to view from your location. Now the good news. An 8" to 10" Dob will go a long way here and there are ways to overcome the nasty effects of light pollution.



(1) - TRAVEL TO DARK SKIES -  There is nothing like viewing under dark skies. I've always wanted to camp out on the Dry Tortugas. But there are other areas with in reach of Redlands.


(2) - ELECTRONICALLY ASSISTED ASTRONOMY -  You attach a camera to a scope (A small scope will do niceley)  on a tracking mount and view your targets on a computer or tablet in near time. Many folks who live under heavy light pollution use this technique. EAA will totally open up your skies. As Dave Mitsky, mentioned the ZWO Seestar S50 Smart telescope is one of the cheapest and easiest ways into the EAA Genre. I have a lot of fun with mine and my Seestar greatly adds to my astronomy endeavors by expanding the number of available DSO's that I can view. By the way, there are some other devices on the horizon like the Pegasus SmartEye. I'm keeping an eye on this device that can be used like an eyepiece and waiting and hopping that it works well. I am hopping that the Smarteye will provide the immersion feeling of viewing with an eyepiece that I love so much.  


(3) - NIGHT VISION ASTRONOMY - You use a military type night vision device and various light filters with your scope. This technique is game changing technology and effectively mitigates the horrible effects of light pollution allowing you to view in real time as if you are under truly dark skies. The downside to this technique is, it is very expensive. I spent about $5000.00 on a basic Night Vision Astronomy set up, excluding the scope and mount.


(4) - ACCEPT YOUR SITUATION - learn to enjoy what you have. This one gets old after a while. 



Edited by Jethro7, 19 May 2024 - 12:01 PM.

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#13 JOEinCO



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Posted 18 May 2024 - 09:09 PM

Whatever you choose, remember the scope and mount are only part of what your budget needs to cover. Eyepieces, dew shield, dew heaters (south Florida humidity!), cases, adjustable observing chair, etc, etc, etc. 


Absolutely do NOT mean to scare you. Just want to make sure you know you'll spend more than the price of a scope itself. flowerred.gif 

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Posted 18 May 2024 - 09:10 PM

A decent simple Dobsonian Telescope --- and someone local (astronomy club) --- who can help you learn how to use and enjoy it. Keep away from fancy stuff or imagery.    Tom

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#15 wrvond


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 09:19 PM

All anybody on here can do is tell you about what they like. There are enough varied opinions that somebody is likely to recommend something that will work well for you but it’s completely by chance.

Before you buy anything at all find a local club and attend a function or two or three. Look at and through other people’s scopes. Ask questions- people love to tell about their gear.

You’ll be better informed, have a bit of experience and be in a much better position to decide what kind of scope you like.

Once you’ve figured that out we will be happy to help spend your money on which specific scope we think you need. wink.gif

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#16 Echolight



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Posted 18 May 2024 - 10:17 PM

I prefer OFF! Family Care as it's not as sticky as regular Off!. And a fan can help keep the skeeters away also.

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#17 sevenofnine


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 10:55 PM

Welcome to C/N! flowerred.gif


The standard recommendation is a 6-10" Dobsonian reflector. It gives you the most aperture for dollar spent. It's basically a Newtonian telescope on an inexpensive rocker base. You point the scope using any number of finder attachments available today. There are many other types of scopes though and I recommend doing more than forum research before you decide on what's right for you. The best thing to do is temper your guidance here with a good astronomy guide book. One of the best is "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide 4th ed." by T. Dickinson and A. Dyer. The authors explain all the latest equipment and accessories. Best of luck to you! borg.gif



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#18 SeattleScott


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Posted 19 May 2024 - 12:31 AM

One of the key decisions is goto versus starhopping. This is just a personal preference thing. Like sailing versus motorboat. You can still get an 8" SCT for around $2,000 so goto is within your budget. Another possibility is a 10" Celestron Starsense Dob. Easy to use computerized location but you provide the motors and tracking. So it is similar to goto yet you have complete flexibility to starhop or use the computer as much as you want. Can even alternate. But it doesn't follow objects as they move across the sky, so not quite as convenient that way as full goto.


Beware of the scope/eyepiece paradox. A goto SCT is expensive, but cheap eyepieces will work well. A simple 10" Dob is cheap by comparison, but the eyepieces tend to cost more. Cheap eyepieces can work fine in a 10" Dob, as long as they aren't wide angle eyepieces.

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#19 Bearcub



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Posted 19 May 2024 - 04:27 AM

Some 10 or 12inch dob would be best choice to teach you what astronomy is and whether you really like it.

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#20 EsaT


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Posted 19 May 2024 - 04:34 AM

Thank you. I’m okay with a couple thousand dollars if it will perform well. I’m in South Florida, Miami, the Redlands area.

Telescope isn't the only cost, because none of them comes completely equipped.

In fact majority comes with "bullet point engineered" accessories/equipping just to have line in marketing instead of anything really usable/good.


Set of good quality eyepieces to cover different objects will add easily couple hundreds on top of telescope price.

In fact for high quality wide apparent FOV (=wider view per magnification) total price goes easily to four figure number.


Though unless you're ready to drive to less light polluted place, outside solar system views aren't going to look much and only top objects will show well.

(but at least it's option for you, unlike with sunset at 10PM here...)

And you'll propably be observing mostly solar system objects and especially by far the most rewarding celestial object, our Moon.



Humidity will be another challenge.

Anything aimed at night sky starts radiating its heat into space, which is cold and doesn't radiate any heat back, leading to cooling below air temperature. Especially telescopes with optical element in front of tube will become dew magnets.


Catadioptric designs like Schmidt-Cassegrains basically need mitigating measures, because of how exposed that corrector plate is.

Newtonian is more resistant with primary mirror in bottom of long "dew shield" seeing only small portion of sky slowing its cooling below ambient.

That's one of the things making Dobson easier and faster to set up for quick looks at Moon.



Here's excellent size comparison of "standard" size Dobsons:



But seeing telescopes in live would be the best.

Here's list of astronomy clubs in Florida:


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#21 Jesse7Mak


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Posted 19 May 2024 - 04:45 AM

The thing I disliked most about the Dobsonian mount telescope I once owned is that’s all you get is quick views, as the object you want to view moves out of the eyepiece as the earth rotates.

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#22 JC0928!


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Posted 19 May 2024 - 05:39 AM

Thank you all for your inputs, it’s been very informative and has given me my share of homework to do. Outstanding responses to all. Glad I joined this forum. I will keep you posted on my progress. Stay safe.
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#23 Mike Q

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Posted 19 May 2024 - 07:46 AM

The right scope is the one that shows you the objects you want to see.  Before you buy anything find a astronomy club and look at different objects in different kind of scopes, this will show you what you like to look at and what scope gives you the image you like.  Definitely don't listen to us, we will tell you what we would buy based on our experiences and preferences.   


The good thing is your budget is decent so you have some flexibility.  Don't be in a hurry, just relax and enjoy the journey 

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#24 17thCentury


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Posted 19 May 2024 - 07:52 AM

my very amateur view on what I would recommend to someone starting out. 


browse this website and watch YouTube videos. 


Star parties and clubs can lull you into wanting a 10 or 12 inch Dobsonian model but they are large once you start handling them for your home or car.  (not going to go into collimation or temp or focuser quality)


Refractor telescope get expensive and I personally only like a few brands of refractors for visual viewing but I do think small refractors can offer a lifetime of fascination. For me finding a brilliant Alt/Az mount is still an endeavor micro fine adjusting or weight of mounts might be surprising when you first start out. One really nice thing about refractors and some of the folded optical scope described below they may do well for birding or daytime spotting.


Me who started out with that couple thousand dollar budget not wanting to do upgrades - which inevitably will happen regardless - the scope I wish I had initially bought is the Quester 3.5 inch. A folded optical arrangement that is small and portable and struggling in bright urban areas but still can offer a lifetime of fascination. Obviously there are other manufacturers making different designed folded optical arrangement scopes. I've read for some of the cheaper models varying performance due to manufacturing tolerances and models with computers that have electronics with finite life spans.


Some people may suggest binoculars at first but I feel a monocular telescope can offer stability and optical quality at a price that makes binoculars not the easy choice some may suggest.


You can search online for spectacular views of deep space objects ( won't get into the subject of computer enhanced images ) but viewing planets in real time even the lunar surface in real time does not have to get old. Just learning the bright stars and what constellations they are in.  Be happy to be able to quickly set up your telescope for short sessions maybe just ten or fifteen minutes at a time a few nights a week.


In the end the first scope is maybe a table top or ground based 4 inch Dobsonian around $400 give or take and maybe having to buy upgraded eyepieces and maybe upgrade the focuser. Strictly for the small size and the initial purchase price is minimal.

Edited by 17thCentury, 19 May 2024 - 08:01 AM.

#25 Jeff Lee

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Posted 19 May 2024 - 08:19 AM

An 8" SCT on a goto mount with a focal reducer (Celestron's f6.3) gives you pretty much a lifetime scope. You can actually use either goto or just use it's controller to move the scope without goto ifk you want to find things the "old way". Will you "goto" dark skies often? Will you view most from your home in light pollution. A goto SCT is good for visual but also very easy to turn into a goto EAA scope (vist the EAA forum here on Cloudy Nights to see what EAA is about). Read the forums here for the various scopes types and ask specific questions, Remember many folks here love a specific type of scope, so take advice with a grain of salt.....

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