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Telescope Basics

What you need to know before deciding on buying your first telescope.

Before purchasing an astronomical telescope it is wise to get to know the main constellations and the interesting, bright nebulae, star clusters etc. that they contain. The wide field of 50mm diameter binoculars is much more helpful than the narrow field of view of an astronomical telescope for such initial surveys.

After this you can start looking for a telescope. But there are a lot of worthless junk telescopes on the market and these will only lead to disappointment and a waste of money. Expert advice is needed, preferably from a knowledgeable amateur astronomer or a from reliable sales person.

The best advice is to visit a local astronomical society and to get to experience using (a) good telescope(s). There is quite a lot to learn. An astronomical society is where a good telescope is likely to be able to be borrowed or bought at a reasonable price with assurance of suitability and quality.

For astronomical societies in New Zealand see the bottom of this page.

Check out any of the resources below.


Start with Binoculars
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Image-Stabilised Bino's
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The best way to start with your own observing equipment is a pair of good binoculars, 7 X 50 or 10 X 50.

More expensive but worth to consider are Image-Stabilised binoculars.

How to choose Binoculars and Telescopes for Stargazing
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Free E-book “A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Binoculars and Telescopes for Stargazing”. This 53-page PDF guide (which won't cost you a dime) helps you select optics that match your interests and budget.
Download (pdf) here A Guide to buying and using your first telescope written by a professional.
How To Choose A Telescope
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If you’re looking to buy your first telescope, start with these 34 short videos on YouTube about astronomical telescopes, binoculars, and accessories for beginners.  Here you learn options for telescope types, including reflecting telescopes, refracting telescopes, and compound telescopes.  And you discover the basics of telescope mounts and accessories like eyepieces, solar filters, and Barlow lenses.