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Buying a Telescope

Let's start with the fact that you don't actually need a telescope to enjoy astronomy. There's a lot to see with just your eyes, and even more with a simple pair of binoculars. Experienced amateur astronomers with many thousands of dollars worth of equipment almost always have binoculars as well - they are convenient, economical, and can be used for other hobbies like bird-watching.

Here's a few good guides for getting started with naked-eye or binocular astronomy:

Some of our members recommend this as a fun book for learning the the constellations.

The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H. A. Rey
ISBN: 978-1439573365

Both of these are good beginner guides and both help answer the question of what to look at; either with binoculars or with a small telescope.

Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope - and How to Find Them by Guy Consolmagno and Dan M. Davis
ISBN: 978-0521153973

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson
ISBN: 978-1554071470

Links

If you are thinking of getting a telescope for yourself or as a gift for someone else, there's a lot of free advice on the Web. Here are some pages that we've found to be helpful:

Telescopes

How to Choose Your First Telescope, from Sky and Telescope magazine

Buyer's Guides & Recommendations, also from Sky and Telescope

Best Telescopes for the Money, from Space.com

Advice for Beginners, from NHAS Member Ed Ting

Telescope Ranking Matrix, also from Ed

What to Know Before You Buy, PDF from Sky and Telescope

How to Buy Your First Telescope, PDF from Astronomy magazine

Eyepieces

Eyepieces & Choosing an Eyepiece Set, from Cloudy Nights forum

Telescope Eyepieces 101, from Optics Planet

Telescope Mounts

Telescope Mounts and Celestial Tracking Tutorial, from AstronomyAsylum.com

A Basic Guide to Telescope Mounts, from Sky at Night magazine

Video Guides

Choosing Your First Telescope with J. Kelly Beatty

Sky at Night Magazine Vodcast - Buying your first telescope

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