Where to Buy a Telescope

Buying a telescope may seem like a simple task – just trot on down to Wal-Mart or Target, pick the best-looking/most expensive/biggest magnification, come home and voila! Instant Copernicus! However, buying a telescope is not such an easy task – at least, not if you want one worth spending money on. Before spending anything, make sure you know what you want, and who you want to buy it from.

In short, never, EVER buy a telescope without at least three recommendations from people in the know. Department store off-the-shelf telescopes are almost universally rubbish, offering claims like ‘400x magnification!’ and other such nonsense. Okay, this may strictly be true, but you will likely find that the optics of the telescope will not be able to handle that kind of magnification, and will produce a blurry splodge of light that could be either the moon or bird droppings on the lens.

Instead, go to a specialist telescope or astronomy shop. You may pay more, but you’ll be buying something that’s high quality and well-made, that doesn’t need to resort to lame boasts. Make sure you pick a good make – Celestron traditionally make the best beginners’ scopes, but Meade, Konus and Bushnell are all good options as well. Ask the shop keepers for advice, and make sure you visit more than one – three is an ideal number. Ask them all what they would recommend for someone in your position.

Use the internet as well, but beware of buying online as there are a number of cowboy outfits that don’t necessarily have the expertise and support that you want from a vendor. Make sure the site that you buy from is trustworthy – again, recommendations are the key here. Visit online forums and talk to local astronomy clubs to get even more feedback. The astronomy club in particular is a great way to pick up advice and contacts, as most of them will be familiar with local businesses and will be able to tell you where to go, who to ask for, and who to avoid.

In short, the best thing to do while buying a telescope is to use common sense. You are making a long-term investment when you buy a telescope, even at beginners’ level, so make sure that the vendor you plan to buy from is willing to give you the best bit of kit at the best possible price. Explain what you’re looking for, and listen to their advice – it’s normally worth hearing.

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Telescopes | Astronomy | Cosmos Telescopes | Astronomy | Cosmos