Christmas is a time to splurge on buying big-ticket items for many, and telescopes easily fit the bill. Regardless what gifts are hot this season, it’s hard to find a kid or grownup who wouldn’t be happy to discover a telescope sitting under the tree. It can be a daunting task however when it comes time to choosing what instrument to buy. How can you make sure that your telescope ends up collecting starlight and not dust in the closet? Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when searching for the perfect scope for that special stargazer.
1. Shop at Astronomy specialty shops instead of general department stores or outlet malls. The products and services are usually far superior. The staff are usually amateur astronomers themselves and will be able to help you find the scope that will suit your needs. They can also give you a bit of training on how to use your new scope and accessories too.
2. Always check the tripod mount the scope is sitting on. It should be give you stable views without any shakes when viewing the stars. Make sure you try out the telescope by looking through it and see how steady the views are. Any vibration from touching the instrument should dampen within a second or two.
3. The larger the primary mirror or lens, the brighter and clearer the views will be. Also the higher the magnification you will be able to use with it. But remember that the larger the telescope the heavier it will be. You want to make sure the scope gets a lot of use so don’t necessarily get the biggest you can afford. Smaller telescopes that are lighter and more transportable will give you great views of hundreds of objects.
Also, check back tomorrow evening when I will be posting a short video guide to telescope types.
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