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What Are the Best Tips for Buying a Telescope?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Those interested in taking a closer look at the sky may consider buying a telescope. This can be a complex process, especially for those without much experience with telescopes. One of the main tips for beginners is that the magnification values should typically be ignored, because particularly high power is not always true or even desirable. Those buying a telescope also are encouraged to ensure that the mount is sturdy, a feature that is just as important as the lens. In addition, inexpensive telescopes are often no better than binoculars, so those looking for a deal should consider other options to save money, including a used product.

One tip to consider when buying a telescope is that high magnifying power does not always equal high quality. First of all, most people who use telescopes use low magnification the majority of the time, because high magnification tends to produce blurry images. In addition, the power can be increased just by changing the eyepiece and should not be more than 50 times the size of the lens. For instance, a telescope with a lens that is 4 inches (10.2 cm) should only be used with an eyepiece that provides up to 200 times the magnification. A telescope manufacturer that claims to offer excessively high magnification either may be misleading consumers or using an eyepiece that magnifies more than it should.

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The mount of the telescope is nearly as important as the lens itself. This is because a shaky mount will not allow users to see clearly, which may result in them giving up on the item to the point that it becomes a costly decoration. It is important to ensure the mount is not too small for the rest of the product, because this is one of the main reasons for it to feel unstable. Consumers are encouraged before buying a telescope to test the quality of the mount by making sure that it is completely still within five seconds of moving or repositioning it. This is especially important for telescopes that will often be used outside, because a cheap mount will likely shake when there is a breeze.

Consumers who do not have the money to spend on a high-quality telescope are advised to consider other options before simply buying a cheap product. For example, binoculars often work better than many of the telescopes that are frequently on sale, so those on a budget may wish to try this option first. Also, buying a telescope that is lightly used can greatly reduce the price without sacrificing quality. Reading reviews first, as well as trying out the product when possible, also can help users avoid wasting their money on a telescope that does not work well.

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