Best Selling Extremely Large Telescope July 2020

Table of Contents

Best Selling Telescope

When someone mentions the word ‘telescopes’, immediately, what is usually cued in the brain is the name ‘Galileo’ but in reality, it was an unknown Greek poet or theologian who coined the instrument which was used and still

used today to view the heavenly bodies. From the 17th Century, from the crude device, it is now very sophisticated and can cost millions of dollars.

A telescope is designed for the observation and study of isolated items and a group of electromagnetic radiation.

The very first known practical and functional telescope was crude yet ahead of its time. Nowadays, it can refer to a diverse array of devices that can detect electromagnetic field.

A breakthrough came about 1733 when achromatic lens were invented that correct color problems in simple lens. It was in the 18th and 19th century wherein silver coated glass mirrors and aluminized mirrors were introduced.

In those old days, there were so many limitations and the biggest was the optimum physical limit for the refracting telescopes which is about 1 meter that spurned researchers to develop and innovate one.

This century, there is a great development of telescopes that even a child can have a simple one as a toy.

There is a wide selection of complex and hi-tech astronomical devices that can be purchased online.

Some of these are refracting telescope, reflecting telescope, astronomical telescope, catadioptric telescope, and many others.

The Importance of Having A Good Quality Telescope

If you’re just getting started out in amateur astronomy then you’re probably wondering what size budget you’ll need to get yourself kitted out properly? You know that you don’t want to buy some $50 mall trashscope, but you’re also not even close to being ready to hand over $1,000 for a big Newtonian scope either. What you need is to find the financial middle ground here when it comes to down to it. You’ll hear some people advise that you should never buy a telescope for less than $500, but we can assure you that there are plenty of great telescopes in the $200 – $400 range, ideal for a beginner’s budget.

That being said money is money and you’re probably wondering exactly why you should spend more than say $100 on a telescope in the first place? Why not allow us to give you some very valid reasons for investing in a high-quality telescope instead of some mall “toy” scope instead.

Reward Your Expectations

The main reason you want to buy a telescope is because you’re fascinated with our solar system and the universe in general right? So when you unbox your telescope and get it all set up the way you wanted the last thing you want to have happen is for the entire experience to fall flat on its face, and this is exactly what happens to people who buy cheap telescopes based solely on the pictures printed on the outside of the box.

Any $50 telescope is going to have a poor lens, wobbly eyepieces and a tripod/mount which shakes more than a politician facing a congressional hearing. In short you’re going to be so disappointed with what you see through a cheap scope that you’ll probably just bin your new hobby and look for something else to do. There’s a very good reason why most informed amateur astronomers invest their money in an Orion, Celestron or Meade telescope when they’re starting off and it’s basically down to the fact that these brands of telescope produce images that a trashscope never, ever could.

An Expandable Hobby

Following on from the fact that you obviously want to be able to see the craters of our Moon, the cloud bands on Jupiter and the rings of Saturn as clearly as possible is the fact that astronomy can become a hobby for life if you want it to be. Obviously how you start out with your new hobby is going to decide how long you stick with it but again if you start with a cheap scope then you’re going to lose interest very quickly and just move on.

On the other hand when you buy a good quality telescope you’ll want to experience more of what the universe has on offer each night, so you’ll invest in some new Plossl eyepieces and other accessories to start with. Then you’ll find that one telescope might not suit all of your needs so you invest in another one which has a larger aperture, or maybe one of the GoTo mount models with a handheld computer instead. Astronomy can be a hobby for a long as you chose for it to be but investing in a high-quality telescope to start off with is always a good move.

Create A Knowledge Heritage

Like with any hobby you tend to become something of an expert after you’ve been involved with it for several years – this includes everything from model making to astronomy. You see when you’re having fun doing something you tend to forget that you’re constantly learning. All those terms like ascension and declination are just second nature to you after a matter of a few days or weeks. Obviously you’re not going to develop this level of knowledge staring through some cheap, unstable refractor – all the more reason for buying a decent Orion, Celestron or Meade in the first place!

What you’ve probably never considered is that all the knowledge you have (or will have) built up about the stars, planets and other celestial bodies is something you can pass on to your brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews too.

Manufacturers Backup

To a certain extent one of the main reasons for spending your hard-earned cash on a high-quality telescope is that if something does ever go wrong at least you have a warranty to back you up, something that isn’t going to happen with a cheap generic telescope. Companies like Orion and Celestron manufacture their telescopes to very high standards, because they don’t want unhappy customers grumbling about their telescopes in online forums – it’s just bad for business.

Spending that extra $150 on your first telescope can be the difference between getting involved in a new hobby you’ll enjoy for decades and throwing in the towel after the first hour.

Sky and Telescope

If you’re already active in astronomy then you’ll be familiar with Sky and Telescope magazine, and if you’re not already active in astronomy then you’re going to hear about Sky and Telescope not only in this article but also from pretty much every other astronomer you talk to online or offline. The magazine itself is the oldest of its kind and was first published back in 1941, when astronomy wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. In fact the only other real competitor Sky & Telescope has is the magazine “Astronomy”, which was only published for the first time in 1973, so it’s pretty unique in terms of magazines of this type.

The founders of Sky & Telescope magazine, Charles and Helen Federer first published the magazine at Harvard College when the two separate magazines “Sky” and “Telescope” joined forces. As a publication this magazine is an invaluable resource for amateur astronomers because most of the content is written with the amateur astronomer in mind – you’ll find plain English which is easy to understand no matter how new you are to astronomy. Of course you can also get Sky and Telescope in both a digital and paper format, but both have full-color professional and amateur images of celestial bodies in them.

On top of all the amazing images you’ll find in this magazine you’ll also find plenty of news and updates on current and future space exploration efforts, anything that’s new in the astronomy community worldwide, reviews of telescopes, books, astronomy software and all of the other various accessories you can buy. You’ll obviously find lots of information in there about astrophotography and even information and advice on how to make your own telescope!

Submit Your Astrophotography Images

As we mentioned earlier Sky & Telescope has lots of amazing digital images of celestial objects and events in every issue but you can also contribute your own astrophotography results to this publication too if you like. Obviously the staff at the magazine can’t be all over the world at the same time so they rely on amateur astronomers to send in their own images to be published instead. There’s a very strict set of guidelines for submitting your own pictures but Sky & Telescope do provide lots of tips on the best way to both take and store your images afterwards. The one thing we’ll share with you here is that if you’re submitting images make sure they’re only a digital or paper copy and not the originals – due to the number of submissions the magazine receives most of them are never returned.

Write For Sky & Telescope

Have you always fancied yourself as some kind of investigate journalist, or do your friends just complement you on having a flair for words? In that case you might want to combine your love of language and syntax with your love of astronomy and consider putting together some articles for Sky and Telescope too maybe?

Roughly half the content in Sky and Telescope is written by readers and not the actual magazine staff – plus they’re always looking for new writers. So if you have an idea for an article on astronomy, or a closely related field of science, and you think you can make that idea stretch to between 1,000 and 2,400 words then Sky and Telescope might just be interested in what you have to say.

The vast majority of the readership of Sky & Telescope are from North America and the northern hemisphere in general, so all of the star maps and stargazing advice tends to be focused on people from those parts of the world. To balance things out for everyone living in the southern hemisphere an Australian edition of Sky & Telescope was launched to cater for that particular market – obviously with all of the star charts and astronomy advice updated to reflect where on the planet you’re gazing up at the heavens from.

Bottom Line

We try to provide you with as much information for amateur astronomers as we can but the reality is that Sky & Telescope have been doing this now for over 90 years and they’re very good at it. Every hobbyist needs a “Go To” source for reliable information and we’re happy to be able to recommend this same magazine for that purpose. Even if you’re not a serious amateur astronomer you’ll still find dozens of images and articles to enjoy in either the digital or paper edition of this magazine each and every month.

A Quick Guide To The Different Types of Telescopes You Can Buy

Most people have a very stereotypical view of telescopes in terms of what they look like and what they’re capable of in the first place. The way telescopes have been marketed over the years is part of this problem, and this is doubly true of the trashscope market. If your only experience of astronomy has been through a cheap mail-order telescope then you’re missing out on everything that more advanced and reliable telescopes can offer you.

Refractor Telescopes

This is the most common type of telescope you’ll find retailing both online and offline, and can also be some of the cheapest you’ll find too. A lens is used to focus the light from distant celestial objects into the eyepiece on these telescopes; which is always located at the far end of the optical tube itself. One of the many reasons refractor telescopes are popular is because the optical tube is sealed so there’s a dramatic reduction in diffraction caused by looking through air, which can vary in temperature so much. Since there are almost no moving parts in a refractor telescope it also makes them almost entirely maintenance free, making them very popular with amateur astronomers. Refracting telescopes can be used both during the night and during the day too.

Reflector Telescopes

A reflector telescope is often referred to as a Newtonian telescope, named after the British physicist who invented it. The basic design of any reflecting telescope is to use one or more mirrors to focus light from stars and planets into an eyepiece. What’s very different about this method of stargazing is that the eyepiece itself is located at the top of the telescope and at a 90-degree angle. The reason for this is the mirror which collects the light is located at the base of the telescope and the secondary focusing mirror is located at the front so the only possible viewing angle is from the side. The major benefit of a reflecting telescope is that they have massive amounts of light grasp thanks to their large aperture, so no matter how faint or distant a star or planet is this type of telescope can produce surprisingly clear images. Reflector telescopes are more complex than refractors, so do require a small amount of maintenance from time to time and they’re also not suitable for use during the day.

Catadioptric Telescope

There’s a whole heap of names for this type of telescope and you might also hear people call it a Maksutov-CassegrainSchmidt-Cassegrain and lastly a compound telescope. What a compound telescope offers you is the light gathering capabilities of a reflector telescope combined with the ease of use which comes with refractor telescopes. They also tend to be physically smaller than either reflectors or refractors, so are far more suitable for use as a desktop telescope for example. Due to their design a catadiopter doesn’t require as much maintenance as a reflecting telescope and can also be used during the day.

Dobsonian Telescopes 

We felt it was important to include this type of telescope here simply because it’s unique to refractors, reflectors and compound telescopes in one very simple way – the mount. The other types of telescopes we’ve mentioned here all use an equatorial, Altazimuth or similar type of mount. A Dobsonian telescope is when you take a standard Newtonian/reflector telescope and mount it on a Lazy Susan-type of base which also allows the telescope to tilt forwards and backwards. The only downside to this type of telescope is that because the Dobsonian mount is so versatile they’re often used to mount extremely large Newtonians, which doesn’t make them very portable. Also because they’re a reflecting telescope you won’t be able to use them during the day to gaze at local mountains or other stuff near you.

Computerized Telescopes

Again this isn’t really a type of telescope in its own right but because they’re very popular with astronomers of all ages we figured we’d better include them. A computerized telescope is usually either a small reflecting or compound telescope, with an aperture of around 8-inches mounted on a single or double-fork mount. The motion of this type of telescope is then controlled with a small handheld computer which is usually pre-programmed with somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000 planets, stars, moons and Messier Objects. What’s really neat is that instead of you trying to figure out what you’re staring at with a printed star chart you just push a few buttons and your telescope will align you with whatever you want to spend the next few hours gazing at.

A Final Word

Which type of telescope is best for you? That’s all going to depend on your experience, your budget and even on how portable you want your telescope to be. Most astronomers with a budget over say $250 will tend towards a basic 6-inch reflector, but after that it’s down to how much cash and space you have for your new telescope in the first place.

Telescope Buying Guide

Buying a telescope might seem like a really straightforward idea when you first look into it. After all it’s just a case of heading to the nearest mall and asking what telescopes they’d recommend right? Unfortunately that’s the wrong way to go about it and you really, really need to do your research before you spend a cent on a telescope or any equipment that comes with it.

You see the vast majority of the telescopes you’ll find in malls aren’t even worth the $50 or $100 they’re charging for them, and they definitely won’t deliver the results you’re expecting either.

So what we’ve done is put together a telescope buying guide for you to explain all the little details you need to be aware of before you go spending your hard-earned cash on a telescope that simply isn’t worth the money.

The Different Types of Telescopes

Even though all telescopes may look the same from the outside there are some pretty big differences in how they function, and just how good the images of our Moon, Jupiter or Saturn will look when you’re gazing through the eyepiece.

Refractor

This is the type of telescope you’re most likely to find in stores across the country and also tend to be some of the most affordable. Unfortunately most of the trashscopes you’ll find retailing in these same stores are refractors, which tends to give them a bad name. A refractor works by focusing the light it collects through a lens and into the eyepiece itself and is capable of producing very high levels of contrast and crisp images.

Another bonus with refractor telescopes is they can be used during the day and at night time too. The longer the focal length of the refractor then the better your viewing experience is going to be. Most refractor telescopes tend to be pretty much maintenance free too which is handy.

Reflector

These are also known as Newtonian telescopes, because they were invented by the famous physicist Isaac Newtown, but when you hear people talking about a reflector telescope and a Newtonian scope they’re talking about the exact same thing. This type of telescope uses at least at least one large mirror to reflect the light from the back of the telescope towards a focuser set at the front. You’ve probably seen a reflector telescope before – they’re the ones where the person is standing to the side of the telescope instead of at the rear of it. If you’re serious about getting involved in astronomy then investing in a reasonably priced reflector telescope is the best way to get started.

The one major downside to a reflector telescope is that it can’t be used during the day – well not unless you enjoy seeing everything upside down of course. It’s also worth mentioning that the mirrors in a reflector can get out of alignment and you’ll need to perform something called collimation, to fix that particular problem.

Compound

People will refer to these telescopes as catadioptric, compound, Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain, but again they’re all basically the same thing. To produce images this type of telescope uses a combination of lenses and mirrors to provide you with large amounts of light grasp but in a compact design – unlike some of the larger refractor and reflector telescopes.

When you’re using a catadiopter your viewing position is the exact same as when you’re using a refractor – you stand at the rear of the telescope. Compound telescopes are popular because they require very little maintenance and are usually pretty portable by telescope standards.

The Different Types of Mounts

Having a great telescope, in terms of the optical tube, is obviously a good start when it comes to stargazing, but even the best telescope can produce a very poor user experience if you’re using a poorly constructed mount. If you’ve just spent $50 or $100 on a trashscope you probably have a wobbly wooden or aluminum stand and an equally poor fork mount, which means you’re going to spend most of your time adjusting the telescope to get anything like a decent view of the moon, stars or other celestial objects.

Understanding the basic differences between each type of mount can save you an awful lot of trouble and expense, so we’re going to take a look at each type in a bit more detail.

Equatorial Mount

You’ll find EQ (equatorial) mounts fitted to both refractor and reflector telescopes, although you’re more likely to find them on higher-quality telescopes because they’re generally aimed at more serious astronomers. In simple terms an equatorial mount allows a telescope to be positioned based on two different axes, one of them is angled towards the celestial pole and the other axis allows your scope to move at right angles to the polar axis. So instead of the clunky mounts you’ll find on cheaper refractors an EQ mount allows you to very accurately and slowly (via a number of slow-motion controls) track any celestial object in the sky above you, regardless of its position.

Dobsonian Mount

You’ll hear people talking about Dobsonian telescopes but what they’re usually referring to is a Newtonian telescope mounted on a Dobsonian mount. This particular type of telescope mount is based on a very simple mechanical design created by John Dobson in the 1960s. Instead of a complicated system of wires, controls and clutches a Dobsonian mount is basically a very sturdy Lazy Susan, acting as the base and then the optical tube (or truss) is mounted in a fork which allows the optical tube to tilt upwards and downwards. This type of mount is very popular with fans of reflector telescopes and they make using a telescope an easy affair for almost any member of your family because you simply rotate it to the object you want to view and that’s it – even on Dobsonians with huge apertures of 25-inches or more.

Aperture

There are a lot of things you need to look for in any given telescope but aperture always needs to be at the top of your shopping list. In basic terms aperture is a measurement of how much light your telescope can gather, and the more light it can gather then the clearer and crisper your images are going to be.

The amount of light your telescope can gather (something called light grasp) will depend entirely on the size of the mirror or lens you’re using. When it comes to looking at objects in our own solar system then an aperture of about 4-inches is fine but if you’re interested in deep-sky or Messier Objects then you’ll need an aperture of 6-inches or more.

Eyepieces

There are so many different types and sizes of eyepieces out there that it can intimidate people who are just taking their first steps in astronomy as a hobby. After aperture you’re going to find that eyepieces are the next most important part of your astronomy experience, remembering that this is the component which focuses all the light that your telescope has managed to grab from the sky. The most common types of telescope eyepieces are Kellner and Plossl, both with their own advantages. Most of these eyepieces aren’t massively expensive and a Kellner or Plossl with a 50-60 degree field of view will give you a breathtaking stargazing experience, for no more than around $70.

A Final Word

Hopefully our telescope Buying guide has given you enough information to now make a more informed choice when buying your first telescope.

If nothing else understanding the basic terminology involved means you won’t get conned by anyone.

Glossary Of Telescopes

Here’s a glossary for the different bits of terminology which are all part of the fascinating hobby of astronomy.

Absolute Magnitude

The measurement of just how bright a star actually is

Accessory Tray

A small metal tray attached to the telescope mount or tripod using for storing eyepieces, lenses, etc

Aperture

The size of the primary mirror or lens, so an 8-inch telescope has an 8-inch aperture, generally speaking

Altazimuth Mount

A mount very similar used to that in photography – it rotates on 2 axes

Apochromatic

Refracting telescopes suffer from an issue called chromatic aberration and this specialized type of lens corrects this problem

Balance System

For larger and heavier telescopes a set of counterweights are used to balance everything out

Barlow Lens

This type of lens, named after Peter Barlow, can increase the focal ratio of a telescope by 200% – 300%

Blower Bulb

Also called an air bulb, these are used to gently blow dirt or dust from a telescope lens or other surface, helping you avoid getting fingerprints on the lens

Catadioptric

This is a type of telescope which uses both lenses and curved mirrors to form images in the focusing system.

Collimation

When a reflecting telescope requires the adjustment of its primary and secondary mirrors this process is known as collimation

Collimation Cap

A cap specially designed to help with the calibration/collimation of a reflector telescope

Crosshairs

These can also be dots, rings or crossed wires used in a finder scope or eyepiece to help center what you’re looking at

Dew Shield

This is a metal shield which is placed around the optical tube to prevent dew forming on the lens

Dobsonian

This is a special type of telescope mount which is like a combination of a Lazy Susan and a teeter-totter

Electronic Drive

Used on computerized and manual telescopes to help with the tracking of deep-sky objects

Equatorial Mount

This type of mount is very popular on large refracting and reflecting telescopes because it allows precise manual tracking of moons, planets, stars etc

Eyepiece

Plossl and Kellner are the most common types and this component is what focuses all that light into the image you finally get to wonder at

Field of View

The “amount” of sky you can see by looking through any single eyepiece – measured in degrees

Finder Scope

A small secondary telescope used to help you align your telescope with whatever celestial object you want to look at

Galaxy

A collection of billions of stars which are very close together – our Milky Way is an example of a galaxy

LED

Light Emitting Diode – these are used in all types of electronic and portable computer displays

Light Grasp

This is the amount of light any lens or mirror can gather, and generally speaking the wider the aperture the greater the light grasp

Light Pollution

All of the artificial light created by house and street lights which interfere with the visibility of the night sky

Magnitude

How you measure the brightness of a star or other deep-sky/Messier object.

Maksutov

This is a type of catadioptric/compound telescope

Messier Objects

These are the deep-sky (very distant) objects which were cataloged by Charles Messier in the 18th century.

Nebula

A nebula is a gigantic cloud of dust, gas and plasma which can be seen from millions of light-years away

Newtonian Reflector

Some people will call reflector telescopes a Newtonian telescope

Optical Tube

This is the main body of the telescope itself, made up of the casing and a primary mirror or lens

Polar Alignment

The process of aligning your telescope with Ursae Minoris, otherwise known as the Pole or North Star

Rack-and-Pinion Focuser

A device used to assist in the focusing of your telescope

Reflector

A type of telescope which uses one or more mirrors to focus gathered light into an eyepiece

Resolution

The higher the resolution of your telescope the clearer and more detailed the images will be

Schmidt-Cassegrain

This is a type of catadioptric, or compound, telescope

Sidereal Rate

The movement of the stars across the sky as our planet rotates in relation to them

Spider

The frame at the front of a reflector telescope which holds the secondary mirror in place

Tripod

A three-legged mount for a telescope, which can feature either a pan or swivel head

Telescopes vs Astronomy Binoculars

When you start thinking about taking up astronomy the first thought that’ll come into your mind is to simply buy the best telescope you can afford and get started with your nightly stargazing sessions. The problem with doing this is that you’re not seeing the full picture here because you’ve automatically discounted the idea of using binoculars instead of a telescope.

Wait! Did we just suggest that you might use Binoculars instead of a Telescope?

Astronomy Binoculars

The problem most people have with even considering using binoculars for astronomy is that they’ve only ever used a cheap $25 pair and were disappointed with how little they magnified anything and how narrow the field of vision was. This is why those same people can’t understand why anyone would bother using them for stargazing.

There are actually a number of benefits for using a pair of high-powered binoculars over a telescope and it’s not about price at all, although this is a pretty big factor too.

Portable

Firstly binoculars are way more portable than any type of telescope and then you can add in that the set-up time is also pretty much zero – you just take the lens cover off and you’re done. This portability means that you can take your binoculars with you on a walk or a drive and just stop and take a view of the skies wherever you like, a very different experience to dragging 40 or 50 pounds of telescope around with you. A pair of binoculars are also far more versatile because they can be used during the day or at night, and are also perfect for watching air shows, horse racing, drag racing or pretty much any other type of sporting event.

Cost

With telescopes the sky is the limit in terms of prices but a good pair of binoculars can cost as little as around $200 – don’t even dream of trying to enjoy the night skies with a pair of $50 binoculars, you’re just fooling yourself. The lower cost is also going to be attractive to parents because if little Johnny is really interested in astronomy then why not start him off with a pair of binoculars for $200, instead of that $500, 10-inch reflector he’s been bugging you to buy him for what seems like eternity?

Now you know the main advantages of using a pair of high-powered binoculars for viewing the stars and planets, are there any potential pitfalls to using binoculars instead of a telescope?

Light Grasp

The aperture (how much light the lens allows in) of even the best pair of binoculars can’t compare to the amount of light even a 4-ich or 6-inch reflector telescope can gather (called light grasp) – they’re not even in the same league to be honest. So if you’re interested in having a closer look at deep-sky/Messier Objects then binoculars aren’t going to cut it here, you’re going to need a telescope with a much larger aperture to enjoy them.

Magnification

Even an entry level telescope can offer higher levels of magnification than almost any pair of binoculars, plus there’s the fact that you can increase or decrease the level of magnification on your scope by simply changing the eyepiece out. This is a direct contrast to the fixed level of magnification offered by your binoculars, which is usually around 1/5th of what a standard telescope can offer you too.

Cost

A high-quality telescope can be a lot cheaper than you might expect and there a number of Celestron and Orion reflector and compound telescopes available in the $300-ish range. So for an extra $100 or so you’re getting far high levels of magnification, massively improved light gathering abilities and a far more stable viewing platform too.

Bottom Line

In an ideal world you’d have access to a great telescope and a great set of binoculars too and in fact you’ll find that’s the simple choice most astronomers make. Why argue with yourself over which will best suit your needs when having both settles that argument instantly?

Binoculars are ideal for a quick scan of the sky if you spot something interesting or unusual, but when you want to really invest some time in stargazing then a telescope just makes a lot more sense.

7 Top Tips For Using A Telescope

Astronomy is a hobby where it’s pretty much impossible to start off as an expert, unless you’re some kind of brainiac child prodigy of course. One of the best aspects of astronomy is that you’re never really finished learning, and that there’s always something new to discover either from the skies or just from your astronomer buddies.

With that in mind we just wanted to share a handful of tips with you today about how to make the most of your telescope time.

#1 Manage Your Expectations

We don’t want to start our list of tips with anything negative but this is one of those topics that just needs to be covered whether we like it or not. Those pictures you see in astronomy magazines and on the cartons of telescopes themselves were taken in the most ideal conditions possible – like zero light pollution and with a variety of high-powered eyepieces. If you’re expecting to look into a $300 telescope and see Jupiter like it’s hanging over your back yard then you will find yourself disappointed.

#2 Avoid Light Pollution

It doesn’t matter what size aperture your telescope has or how expensive your eyepieces are you need to avoid light pollution as if you were avoiding a horde of hungry zombies. There’s nothing to mess up your viewing more than the aerial and light pollution that hangs over most cities each night. Realistically this means traveling outside of your town or city to really enjoy the best possible views, and this also allows you to avoid the nighttime heat haze found in areas with lots of concrete and other paving.

#3 Avoid Windows!

You should also avoid trying to use your telescope through an open window in your home because the temperature difference between the inside of your home and the street outside will interfere with the quality of image you’re seeing. Plus there’s also the fact that your window is now acting as a lens and this is going to totally mess up your image quality simply because your window was never designed to be part of a telescope “array” in the first place.

#4 Let Your Eyes Adapt

Have you ever noticed that if you’re standing in a dark room for a few minutes that your eyes adjust to the point where you’re no longer “blind” but can actually make out details? That’s your natural, built-in night vision system in operation right there and when you’re using a telescope at night it’s important to let your eyes adjust to the darker environment outside. Why do this? Well because your eyes will then be better “tuned” for looking at deep-sky objects through your eyepiece.

#5 Stability Matters

The more stable the surface your telescope is placed on the more enjoyable your viewing experience is going to be. Unless your telescope is on a stable surface that’s not prone to wobbling or shifting then you’re going to find yourself constantly adjusting your scope to get that particular planet, star or other object back into view. Remember that it only takes a very small vibration to shift your telescope off axis – which is all the more reason for using your telescope away from wooden floors, carpets and rugs i.e. using it in a flat open space covered with grass.

#6 Be Patient

Using a telescope requires a certain amount of skill and it’s going to take you a little while to get used to it. Even if you have the most advanced optics you’ll still find that amateur astronomy is 50% technique and 50% equipment, so you need to allow time for your technique to improve and you’ll get much better results. There’s plenty of stuff in our own solar system worth checking out before you start looking at star clusters several million light years from Earth!

#7 Manage Your Magnification

Probably the biggest mistake most amateurs make is that they set their telescope up, align it with the finder scope and then push the magnification all the way to its limit. What you wind up with is a large, dark fuzzy image that doesn’t look anything like the craters on our moon. In fact it just looks like something left the dust cap on the telescope, so you check just in case. You’ll get far more enjoyable and crisp views by throttling back on your magnification from the start, and then as you gain experience you’ll have a much better understanding of what eyepieces and magnification settings will work best for any particular celestial object.

 In A Nutshell

To really enjoy amateur astronomy it’s important that you treat it more like a marathon and less like a sprint race – you’ll also avoid about 99% of the headaches that most amateur astronomers wind up dealing with at one time or another too.

What Is Astronomy?

The most basic definition of astronomy is that it is the science of observing the moons, planets, stars, galaxies and all the other celestial objects which are part of the larger universe around us. Basically if you’re observing any other body outside of the Earth’s atmosphere through a telescope then you’re an astronomer of one kind or another. Astronomy is also one of the oldest sciences on our planet because even in our most primitive state human beings still looked up at the stars and wondered what they were, who put them there and why they move as they do.

How Did Astronomy Get Started?

History of Astronomy

The whole science of astronomy stretches thousands of years all the way back to the earliest scientific peoples like the Maya, Egyptians, Celtic druids and, of course, the Babylonians. They placed so much importance on the stars, planets and comets that they built entire series of buildings to commemorate different solar events. You’ve probably seen these buildings before but never realized they had astronomical significance – the Giza Pyramids, Stone Henge, Newgrange and a number of Maya ziggurats (pyramids) for example.

The fascination with the heavens didn’t end with our ancient ancestors though and throughout history astronomers have often been at the cutting-edge of scientific thinking, with names like Galileo, Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley, Edwin Hubble, Carl Sagan and Patrick Moore all living on long after they’d passed on from this world. Hopefully they’ve gone back to being the star dust that we all came from in the first place. In short astronomy has helped us to understand how our planet “works” and where we fit into the cosmos, and in a weird way this has created even more questions which need answering…making the science of astronomy an interest with seemingly infinite possibilities.

Why Get Involved?

Too many people look at astronomers as being some kind of super geek sub-culture but fact is stranger than fiction in this case. In our experience we’ve found that astronomers come from all walks of life, and the one thing they all have in common is a desire to know more about not only our own solar system and galaxy, but what makes the universe tick and what part we have to play in all of that. What people don’t realize is how addictive being an amateur astronomer is, you’re always wondering if you’ll discover the next “unknown” comet or asteroid floating through our solar system.

Astronomy is also a massively educational hobby but it doesn’t feel like one – the same people who would have been bored solid by a physics class in high school will sit for hours chatting about the gravitational pull of different celestial objects as just one example. Like it or not astronomy is a science but when you truly enjoy a subject then you absorb all the information which comes you way without even thinking about it.

What Do You Need?

If you’re working with a really limited budget then you can get started with either a set of powerful binoculars and a tripod, or for around the same amount of money you can buy yourself either a very competent refracting telescope, or an entry level reflecting or catadioptric model instead. We know that most people assume that you need to spend several thousand dollars to own the type of telescope which will allow you to clearly see the rings of Saturn and shadows on the craters of our own Moon but that’s simply not the case.

You can spend thousands on a telescope if you want to but the reality is that if you have a budget of between $300 and $500 you’ll be able to get a reasonably high-quality Orion, Celestron or Meade telescope which is perfect for the astronomy newbie. This same telescope will provide you, your friends and/or your family with views of the nearby stars and planets which will literally take their breath away.

Can Anyone Learn?

Although astronomy is a science you don’t need any kind of formal education or understanding of maths or physics to be involved. In fact if you’re worried about being able to even find the right star to look at you can simply buy one of the computerized telescopes on the market and let it do all the hard work for you.

If you want to get involved in a hobby which is fascinating, addictive and educational all at the same time then astronomy might just be perfect for you!

Baader Planetarium Telescope

Baader Planetarium, a German company and manufacturer, is known for 40 years in the Astro-Community by providing high-quality and reliable astronomical instruments.

The brands it carries are AstroSolar1, TurboFilm1 , Eudiascopic1 Eyepieces, MicroGuide1, Giant-Binocular-Viewer, Astro T-2 System1, Glaspath-Corrector1, Maxbright1-
Mirror, Solar Prominence Viewer, Baader Sky Surfer, Baader Witty One, and other Astronomical Accessories.

Also it is also well known for its Baader Planetarium1 (Space Demonstrator) and Baader Observatory Domes.

One of the unique yet cheap baader planetarium telescope accessories is the laser collimator.

This allows the collimation of SCTs and small diameter closed tube Newtonians, which were extremely hard or impossible before with typical single beam ones.

The price is very reasonable at $80.00 and comes with an excellent and comprehensive user’s manual.

It is high-quality and has good padding. It allows achieving of collimation in about 10 seconds.

Each collimator is specifically aligned for accuracy and its one-piece die-cast and aluminum housing promises a steady alignment.

It is lightweight and portable, making it an essential accessory.

Baader Planetarium 6 Color Eyepiece Filter Set is professional baader planetarium telescope accessory.

The list price of this item is in between $129.00 to $209.00, and this is not just like other common filter. This is a set of professional oriented tool.

Baader Planetarium’s Premium Colored Filters takes the planetary contrast enhancements to a new level and it is available for purchase individually or as a full set of 6 different colored filters.

Barska Telescope

Barska has a wide selection of telescopes for the amateur and professional explorers of the stars and skies.

It is producing high-quality and specially designed optics at affordable prices and each Barska Telescope is outfitted with all the necessary accessories like the eyepieces, Barlow lens, finderscope and tripod.

This company offers great Telescopes for beginners with its Barska Starter Refractor Telescope AE10092.

Other popular items are the Barska Enthusiast Refracting Telescope 90060 675 Power AE10098 and Barska Enthusiast 70060 525x Refractor Telescope AE10094, which are great for both space and land-based viewing.

Moreover, it has products like the Barska refractor telescopes, which are uniquely designed for planetary and deep sky observation like the Barska Professional 70076, 350 Power Reflecting Telescope AE10104 and Barska Professional 900114.

The Barska Magnus 80 ED Telescopes 20 mm Eyepiece AE 10970 has the list price of $1,781.25 and its specifications are: maximum power of 27.5x, objective lens of 80mm, focal length of 550mm,

And focal ratio of f/8.8. Furthermore, it has a fully multi-coated optical lens with the focus system of a 2″ Crayford and with a 2″ dielectric mirror. It only weighs 6.38lbs.

All of its telescopes are wide-angled and comes with fully coated achromatic objective lenses.

Additionally, these Barska Telescopes comes with carrying case and folding tabletop tripod, which makes it awesome. All of its telescopes are covered by the Barska Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Brunton Telescope

Brunton, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of reliable and heavy-duty technical equipment. Over the years, it has a build an awesome reputation for producing products in different fields with various applications.

These categories are binoculars, backpacking equipment, family camping, GPS, headlamps, solar panels for portable power, and surveying compasses.

The other devices it has developed is the Brunton Pocket Transit, which is a measuring tool used and trusted by geologists and archaeologists. This is often dubbed succinctly as the “Brunton.”

Brunton is operating under the Gerber Legendary Blades division of the Fiskars Corporation since 2006, when its parent company, Silva Group of Sweden, was acquired.

Today Brunton Inc. is located in west-central Wyoming, where it produces its product lines that creates the best binoculars on earth.

Definitely ‘a generation born from innovation’, as displayed on their corporate website which aptly summarizes its devotion to stellar performance.11

Today, there are four lines of optics to match each person’s need and passion. These are: the Epoch™, which is simply the finest binocular in the world, Eterna1,

Which is known as rugged and extraordinary, Echo™, which is a durable and bright sporting optics, and Lite-Tech™ , which is known for reasonable prices without compromising the Brunton quality.

One of the Brunton dobsonian telescopes is the Brunton Echo 8×22 Binoculars and it is an Echo Compact with a fully coated BaK-4 prism glass that is portable and lightweight…definitely an affordable sporting gear companion at the low cost of $47.00.

Accessories are available and one these are the Brunton Window Mount with Pan Head WINMT-200-P.

It is an uncomplicated and easy to use window mount that is lightweight and steady that can mount whether binoculars or spotting scope. This only costs $49.99, very cheap and convenient.

Carson Telescope

Carson can be counted about to bring customers unique yet high-quality consumer optics at very reasonable prices.

Today, it is the leading supplier and many companies are trusting on the wide range of products it manufactures and develops.

These are in the areas of recreations, educational, sports, craft and personal hobby. It sells high-end and low-end binoculars that suit each budget.

It is also well know for ‘Innovation, High Quality and Extraordinary value.’1 One of these great products is the Carson 70mm SkyRunner Short Tube Wide Angle Refractor Telescope with the list price of $219.00.

It has the magnification of 14-116.6x, and focal length of 350mm. The objective lens’ diameter is 70 mm. The accessories available are 2 Eyepieces, Barlow Lens, Case, Lens Caps, and Table-Top Tripod.

This Carson Refractor is a lightweight model suited for rugged use and recommended for astrophotography, viewing the moon and planets.

The Carson™ Optical SkyView™ 70-mm refractor telescope is intended for easy of-use for the amateur observers.

Its features include a focal length of 350 mm, and a power range of from 14X up to 87X. Magnification is at 20 xs and its field of view is 136 feet at 1,000 yards while its minimum focus is at 15 feet.

It is very portable and only weights 2.03 lbs and its dimensions are 12.25 inches by 13.8125 inches by 15.5 inches. Also it comes with an adjustable tabletop tripod, carrying case and 2 kellner eyepieces.1

Carson’s VintageSpotter™ is an elegant 20x 40mm spotting scope that comes with a stand. It is especially handcrafted with mahogany and fine brass accents.

At the reasonable price of $279.00, it has a focal length of 350mm and a power range of 20x-80x. Includes an adjustable table top tripod, case, 2x barlow lens, and three kellners.

Coronado Telescope

Coronado has been developing ultra-narrowband filters and associated technologies for the professional market for well over 40 years.

For the past six years they have been providing innovative optics specific to the needs of the amateur and professional solar observer. They have great products at reasonable prices.

Coronado Ha filters is the best way of viewing the sun since it isolates the Hydrogen-Alpha (Ha) wavelength at 656.3nm while rejecting all other kinds of light.

At this wavelength, features of the chromospheres can be viewed. The views of the sun are dynamic so each view through a Coronado filter is always thrilling, whether looking at the sunspot group or see a prominence explode thousands of miles into space.

The new Coronado telescope, which is the Personal Solar Telescope (PST), has tunable views of prominences and surface detail.

It has the bandpass of 1.0 angstrom yet is also thermally stable, and easy to use. This has the same technology used in the other SolarMax series telescope.

It has unique design characteristics that makes it affordable than other first-class eyepieces, at the list price of $3,199.00.

The specifications are an aperture of 40mm, focal length of 400mm, f/ratio of f/10, and bandwidth of 1.01 – 0.61.

Its thermal stability is at 0.005 A/C and full blocking is 10-5 from EUV to far IR. The PST is made from milled aluminum and definitely not from plastic material.

Moreover, it comes with a built in “Sol Ranger” finder for trouble-free alignment and it has a re-usable box with dye-cut foam for safe storage.

The SolarMax 40 telescope comes standard with a clamshell mounting ring and hard travel case. Optional accessories include CEMAX series eyepieces and Sol Ranger sun finder.

Eagle Optics Telescope

Since 1986, Eagle Optics has been producing and selling top of the line optics. It offers diverse equipments and features only products that represent the finest performance and value.

Moreover it believes in delivering customer satisfaction b providing fine optic equipments to birdwatchers, nature observers, 1 and sports enthusiasts.

Moreover it believes in fair play and doesn’t trick its customers with hidden costs in shipping and handling.

Its goal is to provide its clientele base with the best optical equipment without sacrificing its customer service. On its website, Eagle Optics is selling equipments and accessories at reasonable prices.

Binoculars are a great way to view the heavenly bodies and enjoy astronomy.11 A good one is a great investment, since it offers an experience that money can’t buy,

Especially the breath taking views of a circle of light containing hundreds of craters and mountain ranges or the views of the Andromeda Galaxy.

There are several binoculars by Eagle Optics under $500 and these are Eagle Optics Triumph, Bushnell Legend, Vortex Vulture, Celestron Noble, Eagle Optics Ranger SRT, and Leupold Olympic.

The ultra-compact and powerful one is the Vixen H 5-15×17 Monocular at the affordable price of $ 80.00.

Its field of view is between 288.8 to 168 feet/1000 yards. Its eye relief is between 3mm – 9mm and its close focus is 7.9 inches. It only weighs 3.5 ounces while its dimensions are 3.8 inches in height and 1.3 inches in width.

Moreover, it is waterproof and fogproof, and comes with a carry case, neck strap and the Vixen Lifetime Warranty

Eschenbach Telescope

Eschenbach Optik of America offers the finest quality of low vision aid products through the magnifiers, telescopes, sun filters, binoculars, and electronic reading devices.

Its mission is ‘to assist visually impaired individuals with macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and/or diabetic retinopathy in maximizing remaining vision in order to maintain optimum daily independence and enhance quality of life.

‘ Aims to ‘assist professionals, i.e. doctors, dentists, engineers and hobbyists in viewing and working with small objects or images during surgical or assembly procedures, or while performing examinations and evaluations, or for use with industrial applications in manufacturing environments.’

This cheap Eschenbach telescope, which is a monocular-type, retails at $64.95. It is made with high quality German technology and its special features comes with a unique Keplerian design and is collapsible to only 2 1 inches by 1 7/8 inches by 1 inch. Its magnification capability is at 8 times while its lens size is at 21 mm.

The lens material is made with an achromatic glass with multi-coating. The focal range is 1.5 meters and the visual field is 6.4 degrees.

The amateur Eschenbach telescope which is the Eschenbach MaxEvent Binocular Glasses is an affordable price of $159.80.

Simply great for concerts, plays, sporting events, or even classroom or lab use. It has 2.1 magnification capabilities and only weighs 49 grams, which makes it portable.

The PD tolerance range is between 60 to 68 mm and the visual field is at 320 m/1000 m.

Great for people wearing glasses and its diopter compensation ranges from -2.75 up to +3.75dpt. Each or both can be separately adjusted but cylinder correction is not allowed. MaxEvent will surely ensure optimum enjoyment of any event one is experiencing.

Galilean Telescope

Its famous product is the Galilean Telescope with the two afocal Galilean telescopes. These are the 2x (1623) and 2.2x (1621) versions.

Now, it has expanded this line by adding the new 2.5x Galilean Telescope. This 1622-5 has a new higher power than the previous ones and fills the gap between the 2.2x Galilean telescope and 1
the 2.8x Keplerian telescope (1673-1).

It is lightweight and has the magnification of 2.5 xs, lens size is 25mm, and lens type is Galilean. Its mount is Silver plastic while lens material is made by PXM Hard-Treated Lenses.

The visual field is 13 degrees and cap diopters are between 3D-16D. The 621-0Occluder for 1621 Telescope has special features of having reading caps allow for near vision tasks and can be mounted in the eye care professional’s office with the 1625 kit.

Galilean Monocular Telescope – Wide Field is made using new diffractive optics technology while the 1623 telescope offers an amazing 22 degrees field of view.

It is very lightweight and accommodates snap-on while its hinged reading caps that can be flipped-up out of the way. Moreover, it is intended for mounting in spectacles or use with a finger ring. Its magnification capability is 2 xs, lens size is 37 mm, and lens type is diffractive/Galilean.

Skyview II – Astro Terrestrial Telescope for Tyro is the best refractor and unveils many cosmic treasures.

It features an achromatic objective lens, which gives more light-gathering capability than ordinary lens.

With its astounding 800mm focal length, that allows viewing of the lunar surface, Saturn’s rings, Dance of Jupiter’s Moons, and many more. It comes along with a carrying bag and at the affordable price of Rs.4500.

Konus Telescope

One of the Konus Telescopes is the Konus Konusky-150 150mm (6″) Refractor Telescope, is considered the best value for the money and the most affordable way to view the celestial bodies.

Its offers the budding astronomer bright and clear night sky images. This is definitely an easy-to-use, easy-to-own astronomical telescope and is covered by full Konus telescope warranty.

Its specifications are150mm in diameter, its focal length is 1200 mm and its focal ratio is 11f/8. Its magnification capability with supplied eyepieces is 70x and 48x.

Moreover it has multicoated optics and its package contents include Konus Konusky-150 150mm (6″) Refractor Telescope #1790, two Plossl eyepieces (17 mm and 25 mm), and a moon filter.

KonusMotor 500 Reflector Telescope with RA Motor and Electronic Focuser has the list price of $332.95.

It is great for astronomy and astrophotography, and is equipped with high-quality 1.25-inch Plossl eyepieces. Also it has 500mm focal length and 114mm objective lens diameter and includes 2-section adjustable metal tripod

It is equipped with a compact mount with a motorized RA that tracks stars with no trouble. Also it fitted with high-quality Plossl eyepieces and a multi-coated mirror for maximum light transmission. It is certainly perfect for viewing the galaxies, star clusters, the moon, and planets.

Kowa Telescope

One of the professional Kowa Telescope is the Kowa Telescope 451 which costs 1,046.00EUR. It comes with great features like the big objective lens-indeed that is popular known as the “eye” of the Kowa Prominar Spotting Scope.

This sets it apart from its rivals with its remarkable large 88mm Pure Flourite Crystal Prominar 1
objective lens. This make sure that there is a maximum light gathering, fine visual range and sharp images that traditional glass lenses can never achieve.

Its magnesium alloy body allows it to be durable, compact and easy for handling, thus, making it ideal equipment for the great outdoors.

Furthermore, it has a waterproof housing meets the rigorous standards of JIS Protection Class 7. It even uses Kowa’s new ground-breaking inner focus system that diminishes image movement when focusing on objects, even single handed.

It has objective lens diameter of 77mm, minimum focus distance of 5m and length of 318mm. It is portable and only weighs 1330g. The Kowa astronomy telescope comes with a lifetime warranty of the product.

The eye pieces are multiple interchangeable and includes 20x-60x, zoom, 30x, wide and 25x. The LER is for total flexibility in the field.

It has a locking mechanism that prevents the eyepiece from falling out. There are converters that allow users to use other eyepieces from other Kowa spotting scope series.

Leica Telescope

‘One Brand – Three Independent Companies’, this embodies what Leica Microsystems is. The three independent companies are Leica Camera AG, Leica Geosystems AG, and Leica Microsystems GmbH for more than nine years, without any legal, operative or financial relationship, except for the name.


Leica Microsystems is the proprietor of the Leica trade name and trademark, which has granted licenses by the other companies to use the name.

Now, Leica Microsystems’ business caters to a completely different markets and clientele to Leica Camera AG and Leica Geosystems AG. It has been seen to have solid financial position until today.

Leica TPS400 Series is the perfect solution for all construction sites and measuring with the TPS400 series of total stations is very easy.

It has a laser plummet and electronic level makes it easy to set up and ready to measure. The established commitment of the accurate Leica telescope with its 30-times magnification capabilities makes its very reliable.

It has the integrated electronic distance meter that can measure the target plates, prisms or even the reflectorless to any given surface. These features can definitely save time and money.

The advantages in the field are easy operations using the function keys, Large, high resolution screen that guarantees a clear display,

Intuitive program structure, integrated application programs, well-suited with external data storage, and definable welcome screen. These are the unique features that have been combined in the two reflectorless

models, like R400 in the ‘TPS400power’ with more than 400 m range and the R1000 in the ‘TPS400ultra’ with a range of over 1000 m.

Lumicon Telescope

Lumicon International makes the finest and most wide-ranging line of astronomical filters and accessories internationally.

It offers many filters for every visual and astrophotographic application in many configurations and sizes. The Telescope Filters are for light polluted skies, planets, deep sky objects, galaxies, nebulae,
planetary nebulae, comets, etc.

Lumicon manufactures a complete line of unique optical accessories, including the World Famous Easy Guider Series, Sky Vector Systems, Diagonals, Finderscopes, and Binocular Viewers.

Quality control standards are being adhered to all throughout the production process to ensure the best Lumicon astronomy accessories and filters.

The Parks Gold Series Eyepiece Kit is a great eyepiece kit and has the magnification gamut from wide-field to planetary, with outstanding image quality.

The 2X Barlow will zoom to the telescope’s sensible limit. The lenses cleaner and soft-cloth are parceled with it to help keep the eyepieces in tip-top condition. Also the padded carrying-case protects each lens.

Lumicon #56 Green 2″, only costs $38.00, are made from legendary Schott and Hoya optical glass. Each filter is independently precision ground and greatly polished with ultra-high light transmittance coatings on two sides for definitive contrast on lunar and planetary detail.

This is great fro viewing the Martian Polar caps, low clouds, yellow dust storms on Mars. It has double stacking filters that may enhance lunar imaging, which is optimized for both visual and photographic applications.

National Geographic Telescope

The National Geographic Society founded in 1888 is one of the world’s major nonprofit scientific and educational organizations.

Its aim is to foster and disseminate geographic knowledge while encouraging the conservation of the cultural, historical and natural resources.

Various online products such as magazines, books, videos, magazines, books, videos, maps and other merchandise help support its mission and vision.

This novice National Geographic telescope with the range of 8 to 180x magnification, costs only the cheap price of $23.79.

The features are 50-mm objective lens, 360-mm focal length lens, and 4-mm and 20-mm eyepieces. Moreover, it has plus 2x Barlow lens.

IT comes with an aluminum tabletop tripod and is recommended for ages 8 and above.

National Geographic 70-mm Land & Space Telescope only costs $169.95. This new National Geographic telescope is engineered to easy to use and is a marvelous option for people wanting to have a close-up look at the wonders of both nature and the universe.

The scope can grow with the kid, it has the dimensions of 31 1 inches in width by 31 1 inches in height by 52 inches in length. It only weighs 7 lbs.

It’s outfitted with a rotating eyepiece turret that holds 25-mm, 15-mm, and 6-mm eyepieces, with its detachable 18-mm image erecting eyepiece and a power-doubling Barlow lens, ensuring eight magnification powers.

This innovative rotating eyepiece turret keeps eyepieces safe from loss or unintentional damage. The adjustable tripod and altazimuth mount with micro-adjusting controls make it very easy to use.

Simmons Telescope

Meade Instruments has acquired Simmons Outdoor Corporation in October 2002, as a testament to their dedication in bringing consumers user-friendly and great products.

Simmons is the one to first develop the first aspherical lens application into a riflescope and the first optics company to manufacture high quality line of products solely to the independent dealers. This is a wonderful add-on to Meade Instruments’ prestige and credibility.

The Simmons 22 MAG 3-9X32 Rimfire Rifle Scopes w/ Rings and a list price of $59.00. This continues the great legacy of the America’s well-liked Rimfire Scopes which delivers superb, unrivaled performance. It certainly features Simmon’s patented TrueZero adjustment system.

The Simmons 22 MAG 3 – 9 X 32 Rifle Scopes are produced in Black Matte Finish for model 511039, Silver Matte finish for model 511037, and Black Gloss finish for model 511071.

This comes complete with a set of rimfire rings that makes it easy to use and mounted quickly. Its features include high-quality optical glass, fully coated optics, TrueZero Flex Erector System, QTA quick target acquisition eyepiece, and TrueZero Windage and Elevation Dials.

It also comes with HydroShield lens coating that ensures a clear sight picture, regardless of weather conditions.

Furthermore, the SureGrip rubber surfaces make it easy to adjust under any shooting environment.

The package contents include Simmons 22 MAG 3-9X32 Rimfire Rifle Scope and a set of Rimfire Rings. These even allow the South Polar Region of the Moon to be seen at 239,000 Miles.

Orion Telescope

The Orion Premium 102mm F/7 ED Refractor is quite pricey at the price $999.95 but this is an excellent gastro-imaging scope.

It has the premium 102mm ED and has a 714mm focal length and a fairly quick focal ratio of f/7.0. It has fully multicoated objective lens that has a component made of ED glass for exceptional color
correction.

Also the machined aluminum 2-inch Crayford-style focuser presents ultra-smooth dual speed focusing.

Orion astronomy telescope has a quality stamped on it and it is fully multicoated, air-spaced 102mm doublet objective which has one element made from extra-low dispersion optical glass for awesome precision.

It has all the features to revolutionize the way of viewing images and observing. This surely delivers decades of reliable performance.

The Orion Premium 102mm F/7 ED Refractor is manufactured specifically for astronomy and terrestrial use.

Its optical diameter is 102mm and its focal length is 714mm while its focal ration is 7.0. The optics type is air-spaced doublet and the glass material utilized is extra low dispersion.

The resolving power is 1.14arc*sec. The lowest useful magnification is 15 times while the highest useful magnification is 204 times. The limiting stellar magnitude is 12.7 and the optical quality is diffraction limited.

Its astro-imaging capability can allow the user to view the lunar, planetary and long exposure. The length of the optical tube is 23 inches and weighs 8.1 lbs.

It has tube rings (114mm ID) included (2 rings), Dovetail mounting plate: 8 inches, 1.25 inches eyepiece adapter, dovetail base for finder. This comes with one year warranty.

Celestron Telescope

Celestron is the prominent designer and leading manufacturer of high-quality optical equipments since 1960 that includes computerized and non-computerized telescopes and other similar accessories, telescopes, microscopes, and so much more.

It is also known for its innovative SkyScout personal planetarium. Its amazing products has received accolades and praises by numerous industries and awards for production innovation by Reader’s Digest, Popular Science, PC Magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Consumer Electronics Association and more.

1 Furthermore, it imports optical devices internationally through numerous distributors. It is currently located in Torrance, CA.

The AstroMaster 114AZ Telescope is only an affordable $281.95 and its features are quick and easy no-tool setup, permanently mounted StarPointer, and erect image optics.

It is ideal for terrestrial and astronomical utization. Easy to use and no tool setup that has a rugged pre-assembled tripod with 1.25 inch steel tube legs.

Also it has a stable platform, has coated glass optics for clear, crisp images and comes with a deluxe accessory tray for easy storage of accessories. Amazing, its “The Sky1” Level 1 planetarium software comes with 10,000 object database and enhanced images. Thus, ensuring having clear and bright images of the Moon and planets.

Meade Telescope

Meade Instruments is the principal manufacturer in the engineering, designing and manufacturing of the world’s most classy optical products since 1972.

It has consistently delivered the most technologically advanced equipments in the industry. Customers know that Meade means quality.

best telescope
Meade Instruments – Infinity 70mm Aperture, Portable Refracting Astronomy Telescope for Kids & Beginners – Multiple Eyepieces & Accessories Included – Adjustable Alt-azimuth (AZ) Manual Mount


It is known primarily for its telescopes and nearly seven out of ten telescopes currently sold in the U.S. market are a Meade.

It has attained and maintained its position in the both amateur and professional astronomy market. This is through continuous product development and research in order to deliver easy to use and technologically advanced products.

The Meade AZ-DE Extreme Universe Telescope Video Computer has electronic eye and streams live video to the TV VCR Camcorder1 at the inexpensive amount of US $87.00.

This Meade refracting telescope has 60mm refractor and high-performance. It is computer assisted with StarLocator Software that facilitates in locating celestial objects.

The key pieces are 4 Eyepieces, View Finder, Barlow Lens, StarLocator software CD, Diagonal Mirror, Aluminum Tripod, and Accessory Tray.

Moreover, it is a great way to explore different space and land objects with its large precision bearing surfaces that provides smooth manual motions.

This is great for both newbies and advanced users. Its key features are achromatic refractor, 60mm (2.4″) optical diameter, focal length of 700mm, and focal Ratio of f/11.7. Its optical tube dimensions are 2.5 inches in diameter by 27 inches.

Tasco Telescope

Tasco Telescopes are really known for their high-quality telescopes and it has a wide range of great Tasco refractor telescope and reflector telescope that comes with great features.

This allows spectacular viewing of the universe and heavenly bodies. It promises and delivers bright, clear and crisp images unlike its rivals.


The cheap Tasco telescope like the Tasco Novice 402x 60mm Refractor Telescope 30060402 only costs $85.95 is great for amateurs.

It has reliable 50 and 60mm refractor telescopes that are easy to operate with amazingly great glass optics that allows viewing with clear images.

It is portable enough which makes it the ideal beginner telescope for budding enthusiasts of all age and sizes.

The product specifications include the objective lens diameter of 60mm, focal length of 700mm, and focal ratio of 13.

The mount is made with Alt-azimuth and its Barlow is 2.3 times. Comes with interchangeable eyepieces and its finderscope is at 6×24.

The finish is metallic turquoise and only weighs 10 lbs. The additional features are aluminum tripod accessories, diagonal, and moon filters.

Another great alternative telescope is Tasco 200x50mm Refractor Telescope has the list price of $49.95.

This is a great Tasco refractor telescope that has the objective lens diameter of 50mm. The magnification is at 200 times while its mount is also made with Alt-azimuth. It comes with a red finish and 2x Barlow, adjustable aluminum tripod, and accessory tray.


Telescope Reviews: Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

When you hear the brand name Orion you won’t need anyone to tell you what this company makes – the company name gives it away. Just in case you don’t know (where have you been hiding?) since 1975 Orion have been supplying astronomers from all corners of the globe with some of the best telescopes produced anywhere in the world. Although control of Orion as a company passed to another company called Imaginova in 2005, you can still rely on any Orion telescope to provide you with the kinds of views of the heavens that other telescopes promise but never deliver on.

The telescope we’re going to take a much closer look at today is the Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope – a Newtonian telescope on a German equatorial mount.

Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Telescope Reviews: Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Newtonian Telescope

Being able to buy an Newtonian telescope for less than $200 is always a treat but even more of a treat is the fact that the Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope comes with a German equatorial mount – as you may have guessed from the model name of the scope itself. If you’ve only ever used a refractor telescope for looking at the stars you’ll be amazed at the massive difference a reflector telescope offers in terms of image clarity. This is down to the simple fact that a reflector telescope captures more light, and in a more efficient way, so you get to see the craters on our moon in jaw-dropping detail for example.

3-Inch Aperture

This Orion reflector telescope has a 76mm/3-inch aperture, which means its light grasp is far higher than a 60mm refractor, or even a refractor telescope with the same aperture. To give you some idea of what you can expect to see when using this Newtonian reflector telescope you’ll see our moon in more detail than you imagined possible, plus you’ll also be able to see the rings of Saturn and even some of the cloud detail on Jupiter on a good night. The light grasp of the Orion SpaceProbe 3 is more than enough to give you an impressive view of deep-sky objects like the Andromeda galaxy too. Basically with this telescope you’ll get a view of the heavens that you’ve probably never had before.

Advanced Optics

All of the optics for the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ are mounted on a very smooth 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser, allowing you to precisely adjust the view to your own preferences. In addition to the accurate focuser this Orion telescope also comes with a pair of Kellner eyepieces – 10mm and 25mm models, which respectively allow for 28x and 70x levels of magnification. Without getting too technical the high-quality eyepieces combined with the focuser will bring the planets of our solar system into your back yard with you.

German Equatorial Mount

German equatorial mount is far, far superior to the alt-azimuth mount you find on most of the other “budget” telescopes from other manufacturers. Unlike the 4-axes capability of an AZ mount the equatorial mount allows you to simply align the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ with Polaris (the North star) and then you can use the slow-motion control to fine-tune whatever celestial object you’re looking at, while the EQ controls allow you to keep what you’re looking at centered for your viewing pleasure. Although an EQ mount is slightly more complicated to set up and use than an AZ mount, the extra effort is more than worth it based on the results you can achieve.

Orion EZ Finder II Reflex Sight

A finder scope like the Orion EZ Finder II makes the whole process of lining this beginner telescope up with a moon, planet, star, or other deep-sky object a lot easier. Instead of having to try and guesstimate the position your telescope should be in, you simply use the EZ Finder II finder scope to target it, and then use the controls on the equatorial mount to fine-tune that positioning.

Color Choices

The Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ, one of the best telescopes for beginners comes in a teal finish, which looks surprisingly well in terms of a color scheme for a telescope. If nothing else it’s a welcome change from the traditional gloss black finish you’ll find on most telescopes.

Dimensions

Now we get into the more technical details of the Orion telescope itself:

  • Aperture: 90mm
  • Focal length: 700mm
  • Eyepiece: 25mm and 10mm
  • Max useful magnification: 152x
  • Weight: 16.6 pounds

Additional Features

The tripod is one of the most important features of any telescope and the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ doesn’t let you down in this regard. It has an adjustable aluminum tripod with telescopic legs, which also features a built-in accessory tray for your eyepieces.

Included Accessories

As with all reflecting telescopes you need a collimation cap for when the mirrors need to be calibrated again. Fortunately this isn’t something you have to do very often (unless you move the scope a lot), but trying to do it without a collimation cap just makes things far, far more difficult.

Pros of the Orion SpaceProbe 3 Eq Reflector Telescope

  • A full-featured reflecting telescope from the Orion range, you get everything you need in the box
  • The Kellner eyepieces are a welcome change from the cheaper optics you’ll find on other telescopes in this price range
  • The German equatorial mount allows you to precisely track any moon, planet or star easily
  • You get an excellent telescope for beginners for a lot less than $200

Cons

  • The EQ mount, although a great mount, might be too much for a beginner to handle
  • It doesn’t come with a case

Consumer Ratings

Orion is one of those brand names which seem to just attractive positive reviews like a magnet. So far on most major telescopes and binoculars review sites, this Orion Newtonian reflector telescope receives an average score of 4.3 out of 5.0 star-rating, which is exceptional for any telescope in this price range.

Price

Amazingly enough the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ telescope costs less than $150 at most online stores , although some major online stores do give discount up to 10% off the normal retail price.

Verdict

The Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ Reflector Telescope gives any amateur/young astronomer an inexpensive way to get involved in astronomy properly. In terms of performance this Orion telescope offers vastly improved levels of clarity and magnification when compared to the more basic 60mm refractor telescopes you’ll find in most malls. It’s also more than portable enough to take with you when you’re camping, so you can enjoy gazing at the stars without any of the light pollution which normally makes that a chore.


Telescope Reviews: Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop Refractor Telescope

If there’s any mistake almost every beginner astronomer makes it’s that they head straight to the mall and buy a telescope from some random gadget or electronics store. The packaging always looks appealing, showing amazing images of Saturn, Jupiter and nebulae, but unfortunately the telescope very rarely lives up to the promises that it makes – usually because of a combination of cheap optics and poor design.

A better start in astronomy can be had by investing your hard-earned cash in a name-brand telescope like an Orion for example, and the model we’re going to review for you here is the Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop refractor telescope – an ideal refractor telescope for the amateur astronomer. It’s worth noting that Orion have been making telescopes now for over 30 years, so they know exactly what they’re doing in our humble opinion.

Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop Refractor Telescope Review
Telescope Reviews: Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop Refractor Telescope

Table Top Telescope

The Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop refractor telescope is one of the more unique telescopes that we’ve reviewed because, for once, it doesn’t feature a tripod. Instead the GoScope is a tabletop model, which as the name suggests is designed to be placed on a table when you’re using it. This obviously makes the Orion GoScope 80 an extremely portable telescope, which can be moved from room to room as and when you see fit, plus it’s also more than portable enough to be placed in a backpack and brought to the great outdoors with you. Even though this telescope doesn’t come with a tripod it does still have a tripod socket on the base, so you can simply mount it on a camera tripod instead if you want to.

Alt-Azimuth Mount

This Orion telescope uses an AZ mount so you’re somewhat limited in that it can only move along 4-axes (up, down, left and right), which is less versatile than an EQ or Dobsonian mount for example. That being said the alt-azimuth mount suits this particular 80mm refractor telescope design because it’s not designed for “advanced” star gazing if that makes any sense? The compact nature of this Orion telescope pretty much means that an EQ mount simply wouldn’t work, so we’re not going to count the AZ mount as a negative aspect because it wouldn’t be fair to do that.

80mm Refractor

The Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop refractor telescope is a refracting telescope, so it uses lenses to focus the light into your eyepiece. Unlike most other pocket-friendly refractors the Orion GoScope 80 AZ has an 80mm aperture, which captures 70% more light than a 60mm refractor, and 30% more light than a 70mm refractor. So as you can see a tiny increase in aperture can give you a huge increase in image clarity, which will be a definite bonus when you want to examine deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula for example. This telescope is also perfectly capable of providing stunning views of the objects in our own solar system too – so be prepared for being able to see the planets in our celestial neighborhood in more detail than you might expect from a telescope in this price range.

High-Quality Optics

The 1.25-inch focuser on the Orion GoScope 80mm refractor telescope provides a platform for the 10mm and 20mm eyepieces supplied with this GoScope. Using the 10mm eyepiece allows for a high-definition view of our closest solar neighbor, the moon, while swapping that out for the 20mm eyepiece bumps up the magnification power to 35x, which gives you a detailed view of the deep-sky objects outside our own planetary system. Remember you can always add a Barlow lens to boost the power the supplied eyepieces offer you.

Color Choices

The Orion Tabletop telescope comes in a very different color scheme because it’s burgundy (or wine as some people call it), which is a pretty big departure from the usual black or dark blue finish you find on most telescopes. Orion probably did this in an effort to make it blend in more quickly with your furniture and decor we’d imagine?

Dimensions

The Orion GoScope 80mm refractor telescope has the following technical and physical dimensions:

  • Aperture: 80mm
  • Focal length: 350mm
  • Eyepiece:  10mm and 20mm
  • Max useful magnification: 160x
  • Weight: 5.7 pounds

Additional Features

As you would expect on any modern telescope this Orion GoScope comes with a finder scope in the form of the EZ Finder II. This finder scope has a red-dot sight (reticle) which makes targeting stars, planets or moons very easy – even for the absolute beginner.

Pros

  • This Orion telescope is extremely portable and will blend into the background of any room
  • An 80mm aperture means it’s also a very capable telescope in terms of the image quality it can produce
  • Again being able to get any Orion telescope for less than $200 is what we consider an absolute bargain
  • The supplied eyepieces provide more than enough viewing power for any amateur astronomer

Cons

  • Some people won’t like the fact that this Orion Tabletop telescope has no tripod included with it

Consumer Ratings

As telescopes go the Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop refractor telescope is one of the best of its kind you’ll find at this price. Online shoppers seem to agree because overall this telescope has achieved a average score of 4.8 out of 5.0 on most major online stores.

Price

The Orion GoScope 80mm refractor telescope is priced at just a few dollars over $125, which means it offers excellent value for money. It’s not the best telescope ever made but for less than $130 it’s definitely one of the best tabletop telescopes we’ve ever had a chance to review.

Verdict

This GoScope is an ideal entry-level refractor and suitable for both family and solo use. Some people might frown on the fact that it uses an alt-azimuth mount instead of an EQ one, but the reality is that this Orion telescope will be used by a mixture of amateur astronomers and young-ish children – an EQ mount is just too much work for people who don’t understand the benefits of using one. Even if you have an existing telescope the Orion Tabletop telescope would be an ideal household/backup scope for those solar events you can’t get outside in time to checkout – like if the ISS is doing a fly-by and you don’t have time to set up your normal telescope.

Basically we wish we had more hands so we could give the Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop Refractor Telescope more thumbs up!


8 Fun Things To Do With Your Telescope

So you’re wondering if it’s actually possible to have “fun” with a telescope – after all aren’t they just for nerds and astronomy geeks? To be fair amateur astronomy got a bad name without good reason because people from all walks of life enjoy gazing up at the stars from their yard, or somewhere near their home.

How much fun you have with a telescope is really down to two key things:

  1. The type of telescope you have
  2. Your own imagination

So what are the fun things you can do with that shiny new telescope you just bought?

  • AstronomyWell it’s the most obvious use for your telescope now isn’t it and the idea of “fun” is a pretty subjective thing too. Some people think diving out of a perfectly good airplane is a lot of fun but astronomers would argue (pretty sanely too) that enjoying the free lightshow offered by the cosmos each night is a lot of fun. We just wanted to get the most obvious “fun” out of the way first before moving on to other ways to get a kick out of using your telescope.
  • Daytime ViewingAround 99% of people who buy a telescope don’t ever think about using the same telescope during the day, even though there’s no reason for them not to do that. The only type of telescope you can’t use during the day is a reflector telescope because it projects everything upside down, but refractor and compound telescopes work just fine. Your telescope has a much higher level of magnification than any pair of binoculars you might have so if you want to spend a few hours gazing at distant mountains or hills then your average refractor or compound telescope is ideal for that.
  • Become FamousWe mentioned this in another article but did you know that if you’re the first person to find a new comet, asteroid or planetoid then it gets named after you? How cool would it be to become the next Edmund Halley and have millions of people staring up at a comet or asteroid named after you for the next couple of hundred years? There are still dozens of new comets, asteroids and other celestial bodies being discovered every single month so why not go out there and grab your 15-minutes (or centuries) of fame?
  • Astrophotography

Once you’ve gained a little bit of experience in using your telescope you can take the next natural step in your amateur astronomy hobby and get involved in astrophotography. Most modern telescopes will have at least some way of allowing you to attach a DSLR camera to them, which means you can set up the camera to see exactly what you’re seeing and then just push a button to take a picture. The beauty of this is that you can share your hobby with your friends through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but there’s also the option for you to sell some of your best images to stock photography sites and make yourself some extra cash. Yes…you could actually make your hobby pay for itself by just taking a few pictures of the moons, planets and stars you’re gazing at each night anyway!

  • Challenge Yourself

Far too many people simply point their telescope at our Moon, never bothering to up their skill level when it comes to astronomy. Even just our own solar system has a huge amount to offer so why not set yourself a new challenge each and every week? One of the biggest and best goals to start out with is identifying the moons of Jupiter, and you also get to watch them move in front of our impressive gas giant neighbor too. So not only are you increasing your skill and acquiring new knowledge, you’re also keeping your hobby fresh and interesting both for now and years to come.

  • Teach Your FriendsWhen you truly enjoy astronomy it becomes something you’ll want to share with your friends so why not make an evening of it by taking your astronomy on the road? You could grab a pizza, or some burgers…or both, a few sodas and head for somewhere with as little light pollution as possible. You don’t think your friends will be interested? Well in that case wait until you show them detailed views of the craters on our Moon, or the rings of Saturn and then watch their minds expand as you’re talking to them about it – even the ones who think telescopes are just for geeks!

In A Nutshell

Your telescope can be as much of a source of fun as you want it to be and even just spreading your astronomical wings to include your friends and do some astrophotography will add a whole new dimension to how much fun astronomy can give you.


What Do You Know About Meade Telescopes?

Unlike their main competitors – Orion and Celestron – Meade had a very different but very direct start in the business of creating and selling telescopes to amateur astronomers. In fact Meade Telescopes started out as a one-man operation (run by a guy called John Diebel) in 1972, selling refracting telescopes by mail-order from magazine and newspaper ads. Obviously the world was “space crazy” in the 1970s because we’d just had the moon landings and the Space Shuttle program was also in development. Basically people wanted to learn all about our solar system and our galaxy so there was strong demand for telescopes of all kinds.

While most of their customers were happy with the imported refracting telescopes they were getting, Meade noticed that a large number of their customers were enquiring about more powerful telescopes. This meant that there was a serious gap in the market which nobody seemed to be filling, so by 1977 they had gone into business making their own branded Meade telescopes and the world soon got to see what the Meade 628 (6-inch aperture) and Meade 826 (8-inch aperture) reflecting telescopes were capable of. Obviously they were a big hit with both existing Meade customers, plus all the new Meade fans which appeared as a result of the release of their own range of telescopes.

The next step Meade took in the development of their business was to invest very heavily in the manufacture of their own Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric telescope, which absorbed pretty much every financial, technical and human resources the company had. To outsiders it appeared that Meade had bitten off way more than they could chew but the release of the Model 2080, an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, finally made people sit up and pay attention to Meade as a serious contender in the amateur astronomy market.

Since then Meade have gone on to release innovation after innovation in terms of the types of telescopes they’ve produced, including the first commercially successful GoTo telescope system in 1991, and they were also responsible for the ETX series of Meade telescopes – the first truly computerized telescopes to be created for the amateur astronomer. This constant state of creativity has won them many fans, as has the fact that Meade telescopes are also reliable and don’t make a major dent in your wallet or credit rating either.

How Good are Meade Telescopes Though When It Really Comes Down to It?

Let’s take a look at one of the more popular telescopes in the Meade range – the ETX90EC AutoStar telescope.

The Meade ETX90EC Telescope

Meade ETX-90EC Telescope

This is one of the many Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes manufactured by Meade, and if you’re new to astronomy a MC telescope is what’s called a catadioptric or compound telescope. This means it uses both lenses and mirrors to create those stunning images of stars and planets you look forward to seeing each night. Now a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is nothing new but the this particular catadiopter is mounted on a twin fork equatorial mount, all of which is managed via an electronic controller.

The ETX90EC also features the AutoStar computer system which is designed to help you locate the exact celestial body you want to gaze at and all without using star charts or maps of any kind. One of the many benefits of the catadioptric design is that it means the optical tube is smaller and this means your telescope is lighter as a result. So even though this telescope is a computerized model it’s small enough to be carried around in the back of a car or simply moved around your home as you need to. The supplied Plossl eyepiece provides a 48x level of magnification but you can obviously swap this out for 12.5mm or 6mm Plossl eyepieces instead, depending on your preferences.

The final advantage/benefit of owning a telescope like the ETX90EC is that it can be used during the daytime too, so you’re getting two telescopes for the price of one really.

Conclusion 

Meade have been manufacturing telescopes for a long time now and that doesn’t seem set to change anytime soon, so if you’re looking for a home-grown telescope with a wealth of features that doesn’t cost the Earth then you should check out the range of Meade telescopes which are available online right now..


Telescope Reviews: Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope

If you’re not familiar with the Celestron brand name then rest assured that you soon will be. We’re not going to spend much time explaining who Celestron are as a company because it’s been covered elsewhere on the site, but in brief this company has been manufacturing telescopes since the 1960s and remains one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality telescopes both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

The model we’re going to review for you now is the Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope, one of the few refractor telescopes we’ve actually reviewed here.

Refractor Scope

A lot of people turn their noses up to refractor scopes because they’re seen as being the tools of novice astronomers, but the reality is that even Carl Sagan was a total noob at some stage in his career. So we’re not going to get snobby about what we review and the Celestron refractor telescope deserves its place here as much as any other telescope we’ve covered.

Plus a refractor scope of this size is more than enough for viewing local solar system bodies and events, but it will lack the power to view deep sky celestial objects. That being said it’s worth remembering that refractor scopes can be used for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, so you’re getting two telescopes for the price of one.

Easy To Use

Newtonian and compound telescopes might offer heaps more power than a refractor like the Celestron AstroMaster 70, but they’re generally also far more complicated to set up and use. For example one of the many things you and your kids will love about this scope is that it’s so easy to actually put together – there’s no tools involved at all. Another fringe benefit of this style of telescope is that it’s light enough to be quickly disassembled and moved somewhere else – trying doing that with a large Dobsonian in a hurry!

Permanent Finder Scope

Something else we really like about the Celestron AstroMaster 70 is the StarPointer finder scope which is permanently fixed right next to the eyepiece, so you’ll never misplace it. This finder scope has a red dot reticle for lining up a celestial body – this is actually similar to the red dot technology you find on other more expensive telescopes. The StarPointer is battery powered though, so make sure you turn it off when it’s not being used/in storage.

Alt-Azimuth Mount

This mount features a clutch and large pan handle to offer you a lot of targeting precision when you’re lining up planets, moons, comets, etc to gaze up at. Obviously an AZ mount requires a slightly more steady hand than an EQ mount, but with practice you’ll find that it’s very easy to use. The clutch does help to smooth everything out though, so as long as you have a little patience and you use the finder scope properly you really shouldn’t have any problems.

70mm Aperture

The 2.6-inch lens of the Celestron AstroMaster 70 might seem small when measured against the gaping maw of a bigger Newtonian telescope, but it captures more than enough light for some very cool lunar viewing sessions for example. In terms of eyepieces you get two Plossl units with a 45x and 90x magnification respectively, each of these lenses coated to provide bright and clear images and to help prevent any potential issues you might have with chromatic aberration.

Color Choices

The Celestron AstroMaster 70 comes in a nice gunmetal blue/grey finish, which makes it look just that little bit different to all the other black ‘scopes you find on the market.

Dimensions

This Celestron telescope has the following dimensions:

  • Aperture: 70mm
  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Eyepiece: 10 – 20mm
  • Max magnification: 165x
  • Total weight: 18 pounds

Additional Features

You obviously get an accessory tray between the legs of the tripod, which is just as well considering that the supplied Plossl eyepieces have no protective case of their own. You also get a Celestron two-year limited warranty for almost total peace of mind.

Included Accessories

This Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope comes with your own copy of the “The Sky” CD-ROM, containing a 10,000 object database, which acts as a beginners guide to our solar system and nearby celestial objects. It also includes printable star maps too, so you can take them with you when you’re out in the field.

Pros

  • This is a lightweight, easy to use refractor telescope that even a child could set up
  • You’re spending your cash on a Celestron so you know you’re getting quality
  • The 70mm aperture is more than enough for checking out what’s in our own solar system
  • It’s one of the single most popular beginner’s telescopes on the market today

Cons

  • Refractors can suffer quite badly from ambient heat from the ground distorting the images you see, so ideally set up the telescope away from any type of heat source
  • The tripod was obviously designed for use by children so adults might find it a little short

Consumer Ratings

As telescopes go the Celestron AstroMaster 70 is very popular with consumers – most of the shoppers have given it a 5-star rating. Overall it scores above 4.2 out of 5.0 on most online stores, which is nothing to be sneezed at!

Price

When you buy this Celestron refractor telescope online you’ll pay less than $100 for it, meaning you save almost $100 off the regular retail price – that’s a real bargain right there folks!

The Verdict 

The Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope is an easy to maintain, child-friendly telescope with more than adequate performance for anyone interested in doing a little bit of back yard sky watching. It’s not the most powerful refractor on the market but it is a Celestron, so you’re getting a quality telescope, period.


Telescope Reviews: Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

When you hear the brand name Orion you won’t need anyone to tell you what this company makes – the company name gives it away. Just in case you don’t know (where have you been hiding?) since 1975 Orion have been supplying astronomers from all corners of the globe with some of the best telescopes produced anywhere in the world. Although control of Orion as a company passed to another company called Imaginova in 2005, you can still rely on any Orion telescope to provide you with the kinds of views of the heavens that other telescopes promise but never deliver on.

The telescope we’re going to take a much closer look at today is the Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope – a Newtonian telescope on a German equatorial mount.

Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Telescope Reviews: Orion 09843 SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Newtonian Telescope

Being able to buy an Newtonian telescope for less than $200 is always a treat but even more of a treat is the fact that the Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope comes with a German equatorial mount – as you may have guessed from the model name of the scope itself. If you’ve only ever used a refractor telescope for looking at the stars you’ll be amazed at the massive difference a reflector telescope offers in terms of image clarity. This is down to the simple fact that a reflector telescope captures more light, and in a more efficient way, so you get to see the craters on our moon in jaw-dropping detail for example.

3-Inch Aperture

This Orion reflector telescope has a 76mm/3-inch aperture, which means its light grasp is far higher than a 60mm refractor, or even a refractor telescope with the same aperture. To give you some idea of what you can expect to see when using this Newtonian reflector telescope you’ll see our moon in more detail than you imagined possible, plus you’ll also be able to see the rings of Saturn and even some of the cloud detail on Jupiter on a good night. The light grasp of the Orion SpaceProbe 3 is more than enough to give you an impressive view of deep-sky objects like the Andromeda galaxy too. Basically with this telescope you’ll get a view of the heavens that you’ve probably never had before.

Advanced Optics

All of the optics for the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ are mounted on a very smooth 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser, allowing you to precisely adjust the view to your own preferences. In addition to the accurate focuser this Orion telescope also comes with a pair of Kellner eyepieces – 10mm and 25mm models, which respectively allow for 28x and 70x levels of magnification. Without getting too technical the high-quality eyepieces combined with the focuser will bring the planets of our solar system into your back yard with you.

German Equatorial Mount

German equatorial mount is far, far superior to the alt-azimuth mount you find on most of the other “budget” telescopes from other manufacturers. Unlike the 4-axes capability of an AZ mount the equatorial mount allows you to simply align the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ with Polaris (the North star) and then you can use the slow-motion control to fine-tune whatever celestial object you’re looking at, while the EQ controls allow you to keep what you’re looking at centered for your viewing pleasure. Although an EQ mount is slightly more complicated to set up and use than an AZ mount, the extra effort is more than worth it based on the results you can achieve.

Orion EZ Finder II Reflex Sight

A finder scope like the Orion EZ Finder II makes the whole process of lining this beginner telescope up with a moon, planet, star, or other deep-sky object a lot easier. Instead of having to try and guesstimate the position your telescope should be in, you simply use the EZ Finder II finder scope to target it, and then use the controls on the equatorial mount to fine-tune that positioning.

Color Choices

The Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ, one of the best telescopes for beginners comes in a teal finish, which looks surprisingly well in terms of a color scheme for a telescope. If nothing else it’s a welcome change from the traditional gloss black finish you’ll find on most telescopes.

Dimensions

Now we get into the more technical details of the Orion telescope itself:

  • Aperture: 90mm
  • Focal length: 700mm
  • Eyepiece: 25mm and 10mm
  • Max useful magnification: 152x
  • Weight: 16.6 pounds

Additional Features

The tripod is one of the most important features of any telescope and the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ doesn’t let you down in this regard. It has an adjustable aluminum tripod with telescopic legs, which also features a built-in accessory tray for your eyepieces.

Included Accessories

As with all reflecting telescopes you need a collimation cap for when the mirrors need to be calibrated again. Fortunately this isn’t something you have to do very often (unless you move the scope a lot), but trying to do it without a collimation cap just makes things far, far more difficult.

Pros of the Orion SpaceProbe 3 Eq Reflector Telescope

  • A full-featured reflecting telescope from the Orion range, you get everything you need in the box
  • The Kellner eyepieces are a welcome change from the cheaper optics you’ll find on other telescopes in this price range
  • The German equatorial mount allows you to precisely track any moon, planet or star easily
  • You get an excellent telescope for beginners for a lot less than $200

Cons

  • The EQ mount, although a great mount, might be too much for a beginner to handle
  • It doesn’t come with a case

Consumer Ratings

Orion is one of those brand names which seem to just attractive positive reviews like a magnet. So far on most major telescopes and binoculars review sites, this Orion Newtonian reflector telescope receives an average score of 4.3 out of 5.0 star-rating, which is exceptional for any telescope in this price range.

Price

Amazingly enough the Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ telescope costs less than $150 at most online stores , although some major online stores do give discount up to 10% off the normal retail price.

Verdict

The Orion SpaceProbe 3 EQ Reflector Telescope gives any amateur/young astronomer an inexpensive way to get involved in astronomy properly. In terms of performance this Orion telescope offers vastly improved levels of clarity and magnification when compared to the more basic 60mm refractor telescopes you’ll find in most malls. It’s also more than portable enough to take with you when you’re camping, so you can enjoy gazing at the stars without any of the light pollution which normally makes that a chore.


Celestron Telescopes – Why Are These Telescopes So Popular?

The history of the Celestron brand actually goes all the way back to 1955, to the days when Valor Electronics was founded by Tom Johnson. In fact what Valor did back then was produce electronic components for the US military, which it continued to do for several years after starting to manufacture their range of telescopes. What actually got Valor Electronics involved in the manufacturing of telescopes was when Tom Johnson built a 6-inch reflector telescope for his two sons. This gift to his kids spawned the astro-optical division of Valor, which then became Celestron in and around 1964.

What made Celestron telescopes almost instantly popular with amateur astronomers is that you could now get a high-quality, catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain) telescope without having to spend a fortune, which made amateur astronomy more accessible to the masses. This was all due to Tom Johnson finding a way to keep the quality of the optics high, but keeping the cost down at the same time. The first fully fledged Celestron telescope was the C8 8-inch catadioptric scope which was produced in 1970, and it was this one telescope which allowed Celestron to become a household name in astronomy almost overnight.

Tom Johnson sold Celestron Telescopes in 1980 and after a few years of confusion the company is now owned by Synta Technology Corporation of Taiwan, but are still based in Torrance, California.

The innovators behind Celestron have ensured that the company never got stereotyped as just being the manufacturer of one particular type of telescope, so they were always looking for new ways to impress their customers and market their products to new niches within the astronomy community. So you can expect to find refractor, reflector and catadioptric telescopes proudly carrying the Celestron brand name, in addition to their range of computerized telescopes using GoTo technology. In fact lots of Celestron telescopes are designed to be compatible with the GoTo technology even if they don’t feature a motor in the first place. What this means is even if you buy a non-computerized Celestron scope in many cases you can actually upgrade it later on to feature the GoTo technology and hook it up to a computer via an RS232 cable and port.

You don’t just need to take our word for it when it comes to the quality of Celestron telescopes because they’ve won numerous awards from Reader’s Digest, PC Magazine, Popular Science and several other major publications. It’s this award-winning range of products which has seen these telescopes sell to customers right around the world from the hand-picked Celestron distributors and a number of highly-specialized retail outlets.

Here are some of the more popular Celestron telescopes on the market today:

Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

This 8-inch computerized Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope features the SkyAlign technology which helps make the chore of polar alignment a thing of the past. The handheld computer controller also makes looking at whatever celestial body you choose as easy as just pushing a few buttons, all from the included database of over 40,000 different objects. It also comes in a bright orange finish which is a nice change form the typical gloss-black finish most telescopes come in.

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT

Another of the Celestron telescopes in the NexStar range means that you’re getting most of the technology and features found in telescopes like the NexStar 8 SE but at a fraction of the price. The 5-inch mirror in this Newtonian telescope has more than enough light grasp for amateur astronomers, so unless you’re really fussy you should find this telescope more than up to the amateur astronomy jobs in you have in mind. It also features the SkyAlign system and at just 10 lbs it’s much lighter than some of its larger cousins.

Celestron NexStar 6 SE

Celestron NexStar 6SE

This is another of the catadioptric telescopes in the Celestron range and features a 6-inch aperture, created by a mixture of lenses and curved mirrors. The major benefits of the catadioptric design and aperture size of the NexStar 6 SE is that it’s far lighter and far more portable than larger reflectors or refractors. The computerized alignment system is very easy to use, can be upgraded online and contains a huge database of celestial objects for you to stare up at each night.

In A Nutshell

Celestron are one of the leading manufacturers of telescopes in the world and obviously having a heritage going back to the 1950s helps. It’s not just about age though because the guys at Celestron are always looking for new ways to innovate and, in turn, keep their customers both loyal and happy.


Duracell Powerpack 600: The Essential Emergency Power Source for Your Telescope

Duracell as a brand name don’t need any introduction simply because they’re a household name when it comes to batteries of all kinds. The other reason why Duracell is such an easily recognizable brand name is because the company history dates back to the 1920s when the original founders of the company, Sam Ruben and Philip Rogers Mallory, started making mercury batteries designed for different types of military equipment.

However it wasn’t until 1964 that Duracell became the actual brand name for the business but we think you’ll agree it’s a lot catchier then the P.R Mallory Company of Burlington – “Duracell” just rolls of the tongue a little bit more easily right? Duracell is shorter and easier to remember and also a sum up what the company actually does – produce Durable Cells!

Why are you finding information about a Duracell Powerpack 600 on a site about telescopes? Well the reason why the Duracell DRPP600 Powerpack 600 Jump Starter and Emergency Power Source is being mentioned here is to cater for astronomers who either like being mobile with their telescopes and/or hate having to replace or recharge the batteries in their telescope on a regular basis.

Portable

Obviously the big advantage of a portable power source like the Duracell Powerpack 600 is that it’s portable so you’re not tied to a fixed AC socket of any kind. Remember that this portable power source was designed to be used at anytime and anywhere – particularly in situations where emergency power would be important. Obviously the portable design means that the team at Duracell have designed this power pack to be rugged, so you won’t have to handle this device with kid gloves, then again don’t go kicking it around either. All we’re saying here is that it’s tough enough for the job at hand.

Versatile

From an astronomers point of view the Duracell DRPP600 has proven to be very popular with thousands of stargazers from all over the world. What you get is a flexible source of power which features 3 x AC outlets and 1 x DC outlet, allowing you to hook up your computerized or motorized telescope to it. On top of that it also has a USB outlet so you can charge your iPhone, Smartphone or digital camera from it too – Duracell put some real thought into these features. In total the 28 amp battery produces more than 600 watts of power for you to use across a number of devices.

Plug-and-Play Use

The Duracell Powerpack 600 has been designed to be easy to use regardless of your level of technical ability. Basically even if you’re a complete technophobe you’ll be able to handle using this Duracell Powerpack without any extra help. You can even monitor how much power is left in the pack through the LED display, and when it needs to be charged you can simply hook it up to any suitable AC or DC power source to recharge it.

Hours of Fun

We don’t mean that you’ll have hours of fun fooling around with the Duracell DRPP600, but instead that you’re not going to have to worry about long sessions with your computerized telescope instead. This pack can easily handle 8 to 9-hour stargazing sessions on a single charge. Any astronomer who’s run out of batteries during an interesting night staring at the stars knows how frustrating this can be, so a simple a solution to that potential headache is an external emergency power source like the Duracell Powerpack 600.

Color Choices

The Duracell Powerpack 600 comes in a black and orange finish, which might sound awful but actually looks really well.

Dimensions

This Duracell Powerpack measures 14.6 inches x 9.3 inches x 11.5 inches, so although while not tiny is still small enough to store in your car.

Pros

  • You have 600 watts to power multiple devices with
  • It can even be used to jump start a car if you really get suck
  • You won’t ever need to carry batteries for your telescope around with you
  • It can power everything from a portable TV to your telescope and iPhone too

Cons

  • It features a LED light, which is ideal for roadside emergencies but could mess up your night vision if you’re not careful
  • The battery included is not a deep cycle battery

Consumer Ratings

The Duracell Powerpack 600 was rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by thousands of stargazers all over the internet. Astronomers all over the world love this battery pack, usually preferring it to some of the power accessories made by the telescope manufacturers themselves.

Price

Selling at under $200 at most of the major online shops, the Duracell 600 offers great value for money when you compare that price to how much you’d spend on disposable batteries in just 12-months alone.

Verdict of the Duracell Powerpack 600

In our experience the Duracell Powerpack 600 is a truly versatile portable battery pack and a backup power source which is ideal for use with computerized telescopes, and you can even make some fresh coffee while you’re out stargazing now too! However, if you owned a pair of Celestron Telescope, you may want to consider getting the Celestron Power Tank.


What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds checking out different types of telescopes online then you’ll have come across at least a few Orion telescopes. In fact when it comes to telescopes Orion are known for producing some of the very best in the world, with a nice balance of innovation and reliability built into each one. Orion also aren’t a newcomer to the game of producing telescopes for amateur astronomers and have been in the telescope business since 1975, when the company was first founded by Tim Gieseler. Orion as a company has built a successful brand name on a foundation of high-quality optical products, such as a telescopes, and also making sure their customers are happy with their purchase at all times.

Orion understand that astronomers come in all shapes and sizes so they specifically manufacture a range of telescopes which can be easily classified as “Beginner”, “Intermediate” and “Advanced” models, in both their manual and computerized range of telescopes. You’ll also find that Orion telescopes are very diverse in the type of optics they use and their product range includes reflectors, Maksutov-Cassegrain, Schmidt-Cassegrain, refractor and Dobsonian telescopes; they do also manufacture their own range of computerized telescopes. In addition to all of the usual telescope accessories you might need Orion also supply a range of astrophotography accessories so you can capture those breathtaking images forever.

Orion Telescopes
What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

The company remained under the control of Tim Gieseler until 2005 when the brand was sold to the US company Imaginova, although the Orion brand name still exists as an independent company. Basically you can rest assured that any Orion telescope you buy today will perform just as well as those manufactured under the Orion brand name in the past.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular Orion telescopes you can purchase right now:

Orion StarBlast 4.5 EQ Reflector

Orion StarBlast 4.5
What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

This telescope is a reflector/Newtonian model with a 4.5-inch aperture, so it has a very respectable level of light grasp from the very start. The EQ mount makes accurate tracking of celestial objects very easy and the slow motion controls work very well. In terms of magnification the supplied eyepieces provide a realistic magnification level of 30x – 75x, although the theoretical maximum is around 220x. One of the best, and most affordable, telescopes in the Orion range – you get an awful lot for your money with the StarBlast 4.5.

Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Telescope / Orion XT 6″ Classic

Orion XT6
What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

If you’ve always wanted to own a Dobsonian mount telescope then the SkyQuest XT6 can provide you with a very cost effective way to do just that. The 6-inch reflector on this telescope provides for plenty of light gathering ability and the 25mm Plossl eyepiece supplied with it provides crisp and clear images up to a 48x level of magnification. Dobsonian telescopes are ideal family telescopes because they’re so stable and so easy to use almost regardless of what age you are.

Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector

Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope
What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

The SpaceProbe is another in the Orion range of reflecting telescopes and has a pretty large 5.1-inch aperture, so you’ll be treated to some very clear images due to the amount of light being focused into the Kellner eyepieces. A major benefit with this telescope is that it performs very well in areas even where there are very high levels of light pollution, meaning the performance in areas without light pollution is literally stellar – no pun intended.

Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Telescope

Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope
What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

If you’re looking for a reflecting telescope with a very accurate and easy-to-use equatorial mount then the SpaceProbe 130ST probably deserves a spot on your shopping or wish list. This is another of the Orion telescopes with a 5.1-inch aperture, so you’ll have a lot of fun checking out both local solar and deep-sky objects too. The SpaceProbe gives you a view of the planets in our solar system which you always wanted but just never got with cheaper telescopes.

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian Reflector Telescope
What You Should Know About The Orion Telescopes?

This is another of the Dobsonians in the extensive range of Orion telescopes but, by Dobsonian standards, is pretty small. With an aperture of just 4.5-inches you might think you’re going to get shortchanged on what you can see with this telescope but you won’t be disappointed. The smaller aperture also means this particular Dobsonian is far more portable and is a great telescope for anyone just starting off in the exciting world of astronomy.

In A Nutshell

When you invest in Orion telescopes you’re investing in a brand name which cares about not only the quality of their products but the customers who buy them too.


The Celestron Power Tank: The Perfect Portable Power Pack for Your Telescope

Categories:

Portable Power Supply, Telescope Accessories

If you’re reading this review we know that you’re already interested in astronomy so you know who Celestron are. What you might not know is that Celestron were originally known as Valor Electronics, and they produced a lot of electronic components for the US military in the 1950s. In a weird twist of fate Tom Johnson, CEO of Valor, decided to build a telescope for his sons as a treat and by the late 1950s it was obvious that the future of Valor lay in designing telescopes for amateur astronomers instead. Obviously “Valor” doesn’t really scream astronomy at you so the company was rebranded to Celestron in the early 1960s.

Although you already know that Celestron manufacture a pretty impressive range of telescopes you might not have noticed they also manufacture a range of astronomy accessories too. The Celestron accessory we’re going to take a look at today is the Celestron Power Tank – their external battery pack for computerized telescopes.

Celestron Branded

There are lots of other external power packs on the market so why should you even consider one made by Celestron? Well the main reason is that it’s a portable power pack designed for use with computerized telescopes by the same people who probably made your telescope in the first place. You see most of the other portable power packs you’ll find for sale will be designed to be multipurpose in their function – everything from jumping a car to cooking food in case of an emergency. With this portable power pack you get a power source designed specifically for use with computerized telescopes.

Goodbye Batteries

Have you ever been in the middle of tracking a deep-sky object only to have the batteries in your telescope die? Of course then you realize that you have no replacements, and no way to get any, so that means your evening or night of stargazing has come to an end. The only word that comes to mind for this experience is “Grrrrrrrrrrr!!” The Celestron Power Tank is simply an essential item for any one of you who owns a computerized Celestron or Meade telescope.

Red LED Light

A really nice touch on this portable power supply that it features a red LED light so you can get all the light you need outdoors without messing up your night vision as a result. If you’ve spent a few hours allowing your eyesight adjust to the dark of night there’s almost nothing worse than having a flashlight pointed at you and not being able to see anything properly thorough the scope again for 30 minutes or so.

Safety

The Celestron power tank’s 12v power supply has a built-in circuit breaker which will trip if there’s any risk of a power spike which could damage you or any of your astronomy equipment. Having this feature on this portable power pack just gives you some additional peace of mind while you’re using it.

Multiple Power Outlets

This Celestron power tank provides you with a variety of ways to power all your gadgets and accessories. You have 3, 6 and 9-volt outputs for the smaller accessories you use and then you also have 2 x 12-volt power outputs included too. You can also rely on this power tank to provide you with power for several hours, which is a pleasant change to having to change your set of rechargeable batteries every 2-hours or so.

Color Choices

This rechargeable power pack comes in a black finish with red buttons, plus it has a red LED light for use at night.

Dimensions

This portable power pack from Celestron measures in at 12-inches x 10-inches x 6-inches and weighs just 8 pounds, which is good news considering that it’s designed to make your astronomy hobby more portable. It also features a carry handle which will make lugging it around that bit easier for you too.

Pros

  • It has the advantage of being designed by Celestron so it has all the features an astronomer would want or need
  • The red LED lamp is a really nice touch, saving your night vision as result
  • You have as many external power outputs as you could ever reasonably need
  • The 7-amp hour design means you can enjoy hours of stargazing on one single charge
  • A circuit breaker means that this portable power pack is safe to use in almost any situation

Cons

  • You’ll need to buy a separate adaptor for this power source to work with Meade telescope or other brands of telescope. Or you may like to consider getting the Dracell Powerpack 600.

Verdict of the Celestron Power Tank

If you use a Celestron computerized telescope and you’re sick and tired of having to change batteries when you don’t want to, then investing a few bucks in the Celestron Power Tank is an absolute no-brainer from our point of view folks.


Telescope Reviews: Meade ETX90EC Telescope with Electronic Controller

If you’ve been involved in astronomy for any length of time, or even just interested in the subject, then you’ll have heard of Meade Instruments by now and the telescopes they make. That’s because Meade aren’t newcomers to telescopes and have been in business since 1972 when John Diebel first started supplying low-cost refractor telescopes to people across the United States.

What he found was that there was a demand for a lot more than a basic refractor telescope, and that people were looking for more advanced types of telescopes. In 1977 Meade released the first telescope carrying the Meade Instruments brand name and they’ve been constantly working ever since then to produce some of the best telescopes on the market. Overall the goal of Meade Instruments is just to make astronomy more accessible to amateur astronomers everywhere. In fact Meade has been responsible for some pretty big moves in the amateur astronomy market like creating the first computerized telescope with their ETX series for example.

Coincidentally, one of the Meade telescopes that we’re going to review here today is the Meade ETX 90 computerized telescope – get settled in!

Computer-Controlled Telescope

As you’ve probably already figured out from the intro this is a computer-controlled telescope, which is becoming far more popular. The heart of this telescope is the GoTo system which means that a computer takes over the whole process of alignment and then tracking down individual stars, planets, nebula and other Messier Objects. What’s really neat about the GoTo system is that even in areas where there’s tons of light pollution this system can use your current latitude and longitude to pick out the celestial object you wanted to look at in the first place. Calibrating the GoTo system is a very easy affair and once you’ve pointed it at either Polaris, or a handful of similarly bright stars, and entered your current co-ordinates on the planet the computer takes over from there.

The Meade ETX 90 telescope itself is controlled via a handheld computer, which we’ve found to be very easy to use and except for the odd hiccup here and there it’s pretty accurate too.

Maksutov-Cassegrain

The Meade ETX90EC telescope is what’s called a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope which basically means it’s a hybrid telescope which uses both lenses and mirrors to produce the images you see. You see there are reasons for using both refractor or reflector telescopes depending on your actual requirements but to get around this a compound (Maksutov-Cassegrain) telescope takes what’s best from both of these other telescope technologies and combines them in one “device”. You’ll find that the optics in this telescope provide very high levels of contrast, image brightness and, most importantly, high resolution images too. A compound telescope like this also offers you the more traditional viewing position of from the back or downwards into the optical tube itself.

Portable Telescope

One of the main reasons we can see in this Meade telescope being very popular with amateur astronomers and hobbyists is that it’s very portable and can be just set up on any flat surface of your choosing. When you compare the size of this telescope to a 10-inch Dobsonian or similar it’s tiny in comparison. However with the lens/mirror system this Meade uses you’re not getting shortchanged when it comes to the overall aperture or focal length of the ‘scope itself – it’s on a par with reflectors and refractors with physically far bigger apertures.

Versatility

One of the very neat things about a Maksutov-Cassegrain/compound telescope is that it functions as well during the day as it does at night. Refractor scopes can be very difficult to use during the day and reflector telescope projects all of their images upside down. A catadioptric telescope like this can be used during the day so you’re basically getting two telescopes in one.

Plus another thing people love about compound telescopes is that you don’t have to worry about the collimation process (the process of adjusting mirrors in a reflector telescope), which is something nobody in the history of astronomy has ever looked forward to. In short a compound telescope is ideal for somebody who just wants to point-and-view, or in this case just pushes a few buttons and let the computer do all the work for you.

Color Choices

As you would expect from the vast majority of telescopes the Meade ETX-90EC comes in a black finish on both the fork mount and the optical tube itself.

Dimensions

This Meade ETX 90 has been obviously designed to be portable from the outset and the fact that it weighs in at just 8 pounds and is a little over 15-inches in length means that you won’t need to be an Olympian to move it. It has a focal length of 1250mm and a focal ratio of f/13.8 too. The actual aperture of 90mm might seem small but once you see the clarity of image this telescope can produce you’ll instantly realize the benefit of owning a catadiopter.

Accessories

You get a pair of Super Plvssl eyepieces with the Meade ETX-90EC – in 9.7mm and 26mm focal lengths.

Pros

  • The Maksutov-Cassegrain design makes for a very trouble and maintenance-free telescope
  • Being a catadioptric telescope means you can use it during the day and at night also
  • The AutoStar GoTo computer system has proven itself to be very accurate, if somewhat quirky at times

Cons

  • There have been some mixed reports as to the experiences of some people using this catadioptric telescope but it’s very hard to judge whether that’s a lack of user experience or an actual fault with the telescope itself.

Verdict of the Meade ETX90EC Telescope

In summary the Meade ETX-90EC is a great telescope for both astronomy and terrestrial use, if that’s something that appeals to you. Priced below $500 means that only amateur astronomers with deeper pockets are going to be able to afford it however.


What Do You Know About The Hubble Space Telescope

Scientists realized a long, long time ago that terrestrial telescopes were always going to be severely limited by a number of things but all of them caused by the atmosphere that surrounds our planet. This skim of complex gases provides any number of different ways to ruin images, plus when you factor in the growing problem of light pollution in almost every corner of the globe then you can see why using space-based telescopes make so much sense. Space telescopes had been the stuff of dreams for well over 60 years by the time Hubble was launched, but the technology to launch and then service the Hubble Space Telescope only became available in the 1980s when the Space Shuttle fleet finally went into service.

Quick History

The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who is widely recognized as one of the most important astronomers and cosmologists of the 20th century. NASA wanted to place a large telescope in low earth orbit, so that we could finally get a clear look at what our own galaxy and the universe beyond looks like. How big was this telescope designed to be? Well with an aperture of 2.4-meters and a total weight of 24,500 lbs this was no back yard telescope you were dealing with. The Hubble needed to have enough light grasp to literally allow astronomers to see into the furthest reaches of space, which also means literally looking backwards in time too.

The Dream

Funding for the Hubble Space Telescope first took place in the 1970s but unfortunately there were lots of complications and red tape to slow it down. Then when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lift off, killing everyone onboard, Hubble was held up yet again.

Finally, after even more delays, in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope made it to space, but the dream of incredible receiving images from space was almost shattered when it turns out that the massive mirror inside the telescope had been made incorrectly.

So before Hubble could ever provide one single image it was going to have to be extensively repaired – leaving astronomical and logistical egg on a lot of embarrassed faces at NASA. The general public has been waiting a long time to see the Hubble Space Telescope in action and to hear that the most important component of the telescope had been made incorrectly was crushing to say the least.

The Reality

Luckily enough the Space Shuttle was built for being able to perform exactly this type of repair mission on satellites and the STS-61 mission was launched on 1993 to get the Hubble Space Telescope back on track. This was achieved by first fixing the problem with the optics on the Hubble and the STS-61 crew also had a chance to perform some much needed upgrades to the telescope at the same time.

This wasn’t an easy repair mission by any stretch of the imagination and it took 11-days to complete the mission via a number of EVAs (space walks) – 5 in total. In fact the first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission broke the record for the number of EVAs performed during any one mission. So finally in 1993 the Hubble Space Telescope was finally able to focus and function properly – almost 20 years after it received initial funding.

Since then Hubble has been sending back the types of images that ground-based astronomers could only dream of – obviously the advanced optics and being able to see in a variety of light spectrums is an advantage, but the main advantage is still that the telescope itself is outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. From any astronomers point of view the Hubble Space Telescope was worth every cent of the money invested in it.

The Future

The Hubble was never designed to be a long-term solution to the need for a space telescope and it’s expected to begin winding down its service as of this year, 2013. The first reason for this is that the newer, larger and more powerful James Webb Space Telescope is due to replace it but there’s also the reality that Hubble needs repair and maintenance and the mothballing of the Space Shuttle fleet means there is simply no effective way to do that.

Of course the cancellation of the Constellation program didn’t help and right now America is relying on Soyuz launches to ferry their crew into orbit – far more cheaply and reliably than the Space Shuttle ever could.

The James Webb Telescope is designed to go online around 2018 so until NASA (or potentially SpaceX) has a replacement for the Space Shuttle the Hubble is going to have to stay put for the foreseeable future.


Telescope Reviews: Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Like most things in life you need to start as you intend to finish and this is also true of astronomy as a hobby, and maybe even as a potential career. The first step you can and should take is investing in a high-quality telescope from a company like Orion, because you know you’re getting a telescope that will actually deliver results. Remember this US-based company has been in business since 1975 and the creator of the company, Tim Gieseler, knew a thing or two about telescopes – to say the least. Orion is currently owned by another US company called Imaginova, but the telescopes they manufacture are still some of the very best on the planet and still sold directly under the Orion brand name.

The Orion ‘scope we’re going to review today is the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope.

Orion XT6

6-inch Dobsonian Reflector

There’s a lot of astronomy terminology wrapped up in the name and features of this Orion telescope, so if you’re completely new to the field of astronomy then don’t panic. Firstly a Dobsonian telescope is a standard reflector telescope set on a Dobsonian mount, but usually with a slight larger aperture than most standard reflectors. When you hear people talking about Newtonian telescopes they’re actually talking about a reflector – they’re the exact same thing.

Now the 6-inch aperture of the Orion SkyQuest XT6 means that your telescope can absorb large amounts of light (called light grasp), which means that you get to see clearer images of our moon, other planets in our solar system and of course the various galaxies, nebula and Messier Objects dotted all over our sky. In fact the 150mm parabolic primary mirror used in the Orion XT6 has 80% more light grasp than a 4.5-inch reflector (which is a pretty big jump), but is still small enough so that it’s portable and can be carried around, without the use of a flatbed truck.

Reflex Sight

The EZ Finder II sight makes the whole process of aiming your Orion XT6 telescope where you want it very straightforward. This sight projects a small red dot onto a non-magnifying element so you can aim your telescope at the exact part of the sky you want to view. The lack of a computerized motor system on Dobsonian means that an accurate aiming sight like the EZ Finder II is very, very important to have.

Stability

Thanks to the Dobsonian mount used for this reflector you have an incredibly stable platform to work from. If you’ve only ever had a chance to gaze at our moon through a refractor telescope you’ll know that you wind up having to squint, hold your breath and stay very still or run the risk of knocking the telescope out of alignment. The CorrecTension system used in the Orion XT6 ensures that you can enjoy trouble-free stargazing thanks to the innovative system of springs it uses to keep everything stationary. This stability also means that a ‘scope like the SkyQuest XT6 is very easy for any almost member of your family to use.

Cost Effective

For less than $500 you’re getting what can be described as a “semi pro” type of telescope for staring up at the stars. It’s not a top of the range telescope but it does have the exact same features as many of the other more expensive (FAR more expensive) telescopes in the Orion product range. We’ve found that a lot of people are either told or assume that you can’t get a high-quality reflector telescope for less than $500 but the Orion SkyQuest XT6 is very clear proof that you can get a great telescope for a whole lot less than $500 folks. This Orion Dobsonian telescope is more than capable of giving you those wonderful moments of staring at a deep-sky object and experiencing that very weird feeling of knowing that you’re looking at something which is several light years from you. It’s only when you use a proper telescope like an Orion XT6 that you start to understand our place in the vastness of our universe.

Cool

There’s something very mad professor-ish about using a Dobsonian telescope, they constantly remind us of the kind of thing you’d see in a Flash Gordon cartoon when you were a kid. When you mention that you have a telescope most people will expect it to be a standard refractor but when they see that you have a very cool looking Dobsonian telescope they’ll instantly want to know more about it. These types of telescopes just look and feel more “grown up”, and they also deliver far more clarity when it comes to checking out the natural display of light on show every night.

Color Choices

The Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic is available in a gloss black finish, as featured in our review today.

Dimensions

This Dobsonian telescope has the following measurements and features:

  • Focal length: 1200
  • Optical diameter: 150mm
  • Focal ration: f/8.0
  • Magnification: 48x
  • Maximum useful magnification: 300x
  • Weight: 34 lbs

Additional Features

You’ll also be pleased to hear that the Orion SkyQuest XT6 comes with a limited one-year warranty.

Included Accessories

You get the usual comprehensive selection of accessories with your SkyQuest XT6 including a 25mm Plossl eyepiece, a collimation cap and of course the 2″ Crayford focuser and the EZ Finder II reflex sight.

Pros

  • The 6-inch aperture provides more than enough light grasp for the vast majority of stargazing needs
  • The 25mm Plossl eyepiece provides plenty of magnification (up to 48x)
  • A Dobsonian mount means you have a very, very stable viewing platform
  • There are a lot of features in this Orion XT6 telescope which would make it a great telescope for the vast majority of amateur astronomers of any age

Cons

  • None that we can think of

Verdict of the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Telescope

If you’re looking for a telescope to introduce your whole family to the wonders of astronomy then the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is ideal for that purpose. It’s small and light enough to be portable but the 6-inch aperture means that the heavens become your entertainment every clear evening, instead of some dumb reality TV show. This telescope might look complex from the outside but you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is for everyone in your family to use.


Telescope Reviews: Orion 9851 SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope

Most people find it difficult to not be fascinated by the stars at least once in their lifetime, after all they’re sitting there over your head almost every single night. Although the vast majority of people don’t stop to think about it the reality is that those tiny points of light in the sky are planets and stars located millions of miles, or even light years, from where you’re standing right now. So if you want to take the first step to understanding more about the universe around you then investing a high-quality telescope is a step in the right direction.

In terms of telescopes suitable for hobbyists, and professionals, Orion has been manufacturing telescopes for well over 3 decades now. The nice thing about investing in an Orion is that they have something in their product range to suit almost every budget, although they’re not in the business of manufacturing those cheap telescopes you’ll find in malls. Instead with an Orion you’re getting a real telescope and in today’s review we’re going to look at the 9851 Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope featuring an equatorial mount.

Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope

Reflector Telescope

You’ll hear people refer to this type of telescope as a Newtonian reflector telescope, name after the physicist Isaac Newtown, and it works by using a pair of mirrors to reflect light to an eyepiece located at the side of the telescope. This is very different to a standard refractor telescope where the light is focused through a lens instead. A reflector telescope actually gives you far better views of the skies above you and it’s only when you’ve used one for the first time that you realize just what a difference a large aperture reflector ‘scope can make to your enjoyment of astronomy as a whole. Although it can take a little while to get used to the unique viewing angle you have from the side of this reflector telescope.

5.1-inch Aperture

The bigger the aperture any telescope has then the more light it can capture from the night sky – something called light grasp. The 130mm optics on this telescope literally swallow all the light it captures and provides you with some incredible views of not only our own Moon but other planets in our solar system like Mars and of course the cloud bands of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. Under the right conditions (as little light pollution as possible) you can even enjoy the awesome sight of the moons of Jupiter passing in front of that gas giant, although you’ll probably be using a 10mm eyepiece to enjoy that level of detail – the Orion SpaceProbe 130 comes with one of those of course.

Eyepieces

In as much as the aperture of a telescope is important you’ll also need a variety of eyepieces to make the most of your stargazing experience. With the Orion Reflector telescope you get a pair of Kellner eyepieces in 10mm and 25mm focal lengths. The 25mm eyepiece will give you a broad and general view of what you’re looking at but if you want to examine any particular celestial object in more detail then you’re better of swapping over to the 10mm eyepiece instead. The beauty of eyepieces is that you can always swap them out for different types and if you want to upgrade your eyepieces for the Orion SpaceProbe 130 then the obvious choice is to go for 10mm and 25mm Plossl models instead.

Equatorial Mount

The EQ-2 mount which comes with the Orion telescope is an ideal equatorial mount for somebody who is just starting out using a reflector telescope like this. Basically unlike a refractor telescope where you tend to have to do a lot of manual adjustment, which is frustrating at the best of times, an equatorial mount has two separate control knows which allow your telescope to slowly track any object across the night sky by making minor adjustments to the ascension or declination of the scope itself. So instead of having to adjust the entire telescope when the object moves you’ll only need to make the most minor of adjustments with the control knobs instead.

Color Choices

The Orion SpaceProbe 130 is only available in the same gloss black finish as featured in our review today.

Dimensions

This Orion telescope has the following features and dimensions:

  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Focal ratio: f/6.9
  • Optical diameter: 130mm
  • Magnification: 36x/90x
  • Maximum magnification: 260x
  • Weight: 26.5 pounds when fully assembled

Included Accessories

One of the other great things about buying an Orion reflector telescope is that you get everything you need in the box and in the case of the Orion SpaceProbe 130 you get a pair of Kellner eyepieces in 10mm and 25mm focal lengths, a 6 x 30 finder scope, a collimation cap, accessory tray, dust caps and of course the standard “Starry Night” software which ships with most Orion ‘scopes in this price range.

Pros

  • The Orion SpaceProbe 130 is an extremely affordable reflector telescope
  • The 5.1-inch aperture provides you with more than enough light grasp to view all but the most distant of celestial bodies
  • This telescope also tends to work pretty well in areas where there’s a lot of light pollution, obviously the view is far better without any light pollution
  • You get everything you need to get started in the box

Cons

  • The Kellner eyepieces are an odd choice for a reflector telescope considering that pretty much every other Orion is supplied with the far better Plossl eyepieces

Verdict of the Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope

You’re going to have to try very hard to find a telescope that offers so much for the same amount of money. The Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector is an ideal reflector telescope to start out with and you’ll find that it adds a new level of enjoyment to stargazing, although you might find the equatorial mount a little fiddly to work with for the first few hours.


Telescope Reviews: Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

The problem most people have when they try to get into astronomy as a hobby is they head straight to their nearest mall and buy the first telescope they can find for less than $100. Rushing home they open it, set it up and are instantly disappointed by the dismal views they get. That’s why it makes so much sense to invest that little bit more in a telescope from a company like Orion, who’ve been involved in the whole astronomy business for almost 30 years now. Not only have they been making telescopes for a long time but they’re also an internationally recognized brand name – so you’re buying quality when you buy Orion.

Today’s review is going to cover the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope, so let’s get on with it!

Huge Aperture

They say that size isn’t everything but when it comes to telescopes size can matter quite a bit. In fact if you look at something like the Hubble Space Telescope it has an “aperture” of 8-feet, is over 43-feet long and weighs several tons. When the Hubble finally shuts down it’s being replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope sometime in and around 2018 – the focal length on this new telescope is 431 feet!

What we’re getting at here is that the 10-inch aperture of the Orion SkyQuest XT10, combined with the 25mm Plossl eyepiece gives you an amazing view of the sky due to the enormous light grasp of this telescope and of course Plossl eyepiece does its part too. As well as being able to enjoy more local celestial sights this Orion telescope is more than capable of magnifying most of the deep-sky objects you’ll ever have heard of. Obviously you can also trade up to a 12.5mm or 6mm eyepiece if you want to check anything out in more detail.

Point-and-View Telescope

The SkyQuest XT10 is a Dobsonian Newtonian (now there’s a mouthful eh?) telescope which, to the newbies, means that it’s a large reflector telescope mounted in a base created by a guy called Dobson a few decades ago. Even though they look bulky and clunky a Dobsonian telescope kit is actually very easy for almost anyone over the age of 12 to use – you just point the telescope at where you want to look at in the sky and that’s it.

Another major benefit of using an Orion Dobsonian telescope is that you get very well defined and bright views of whatever you’re looking at. In short something like the XT10 might look complicated but is actually a great beginner/intermediate telescope for anyone to own, or give as a gift.

CorrecTension System

The Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic uses a special balancing and traction system to make sure that the telescope stays both balanced and where you want it to be. This is all achieved by the use of several sets of springs and the only thing you need to know about this is that it works, and it works very well. Basically the CorrecTension system stops the Dobsonian from swinging out of whatever position you’ve aligned it to.

Color Choices

This Orion SkyQuest telescope is only available in a gloss black finish, as featured in our review.

Dimensions

The Orion SkyQuest XT10 has the following dimensions and features:

  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Optical diameter: 254mm
  • Focal ratio: f/4.7
  • Magnification: 48x
  • Maximum useful magnification: 300x
  • Weight: 54 lbs

Included Accessories

When you buy any Orion telescope you always get a nice mix of accessories and this SkyQuest is no different. You obviously get the 25mm Plossl eyepiece, a 2″ Crayford focuser, the EX Finder II reflex sight, dust caps and a collimation (calibration) cap too. Orion also ship a copy of their Starry Night software with most of their telescopes and this is included with this SkyQuest too.

Pros

  • With an aperture of 10-inches this telescope is more than big enough for all but the most serious astronomers – it’s perfect for the experienced hobbyist
  • You get everything you need for your new stargazing hobby in the box, although the addition of a 12.5mm eyepiece would be nice
  • This telescope is manufactured by Orion so you’re getting a seal of quality instantly
  • Dobsonian telescopes are very easy to use and your entire family can get in on the fun

Cons

  • Priced above $500 this telescope might be out of the price range of most people, but when you’re buying a reflector telescope if you pay peanuts you get monkeys folks – we can guarantee that!

Verdict of the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Telescope

The Orion 8946 SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is one of the most popular reflector telescopes you’ll find on sale anywhere. People love it for a lot of reasons but the main one is that it’s very easy to operate, so anyone can use it. Then it you have the enormous 10-inch aperture meaning that no matter what part of the sky you point it at you’re not going to be disappointed in the images you see, and of course there’s the sheer value for money this telescope offers too.


Telescope Reviews: Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

If you’ve always wanted to get involved in the whole hobby of astronomy but you didn’t know where to start or what equipment to buy then we think that you’ll find that the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is a great place to start. After all Orion have been manufacturing telescopes in the United States since 1975 and are widely recognized as being one of the better (if not best) hobbyist telescopes you can find in their price range. The man behind Orion, Tim Gieseler, handed over control of the Orion brand to Imaginova in 2005, but the company continues to produce a range of highly affordable, easy-to-use and accurate telescopes.

The model we’re going to take a look at today, as you’ve probably guessed, is the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic – a Dobsonian telescope kit.

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian Reflector Telescope

Wide Aperture

With an aperture of 4.5-inches (114mm) this Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is at the lower end of the scale in terms of sheer size, but that means you can mount it on a table more easily. The aperture is still more than adequate for checking out the craters on our Moon, the color bands on Jupiter and of course the always stunning rings of Saturn. If you’ve never used a “real” telescope before you’ll find that the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic will blow any of your standard store trashscopes right out of the water – there’s absolutely no comparison in terms of the images you’ll be able to see. To make the most of this telescope you’re also provided with a 10mm and 25mm Plossl eyepiece.

Ideal Beginner Telescope

The simple fact is that the Orion SkyQuest has tons more light grasp than a refractor telescope with a comparable aperture – up to 200% more. Without digging into the technical details of what this all means (and possibly boring you to sleep) the more light that can be reflected around inside a telescope means that you get brighter and larger images. Although any telescope with a Dobsonian mount might seem a little bit intimidating or complex at first they’re actually the ideal platform for a beginner. It can take a while to get used to an equatorial mount whereas a Dobsonian mount just lets you point your scope at what you want to view and then just enjoy the experience.

The supplied eyepieces, matched with the 114m aperture, give you a maximum magnification of either 36x or 91x – depending on what eyepiece you actually wind up using. With this level of magnification you should have no problem enjoying the light show presented both by celestial objects in our solar system and extra-solar bodies too! Using a Dobsonian reflector telescope does require a small amount of skill, which is why so many people chose a computerized telescope instead, we’re just a bit old school at times when it comes to the ‘scopes we use here is all. That being said we do love some of the better computerized telescopes on the market.

Award-Winning Telescope

Now there’s a lot we can say about the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic but let’s just have a look at some of the accolades it’s received so far. In 2005 Sky & Telescope Magazine announced that the Orion Dobsonian was a “hands-down winner” when it came to the detail and brightness it provided. In 2003 Astronomy Magazine said that the XT4.5 was an ideal telescope for somebody just starting out in astronomy. Then in 2001 Sky & Telescope Magazine also said that the SkyQuest XT 4.5 was very tough and displayed an incredible amount of detail including the “Great Red Spot” of Jupter, which all astronomers dream of seeing.

Portable

As we mentioned a bit earlier the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic is small by Dobsonian telescope standards but that actually provides you with the rare advantage of having a telescope of this type which is actually portable. So instead of being stuck stargazing in your yard and struggling with light pollution, you can simply take this Orion telescope wherever you want. Orion Dobsonians all feature something called “CorrecTension Friction Optimization”, which is a set of springs used to keep the telescope balanced and properly attached to the Dobsonian base. This system also helps prevent the mirrors from getting out of alignment, although collimation will be required from time to time. The additional bonus is in terms of the weight of the telescope itself – it’s just 19lbs in total! That’s at least 10lbs less than the bigger Orion Dobsonians.

Color Choices

The Orion SkyQuest is available in a classic gloss black finish.

Dimensions

This reflector telescope has the following dimensions and/or features:

  • Focal length: 910mm
  • Aperture: 114mm
  • Focal ratio: f/7.9
  • Lowest magnification: 17x
  • Highest magnification: 228x

Additional Features

You get a one-year limited warranty when you purchase this Orion SkyQuest telescope.

Included Accessories

This telescope comes with plenty of accessories, including the 2 Plossl eyepieces, a finder scope and a free copy of the Starry Night astronomy software package.

Pros

  • A highly portable design means you can take this telescope with you to areas not soaked in light pollution
  • The 4.5-inch aperture means you get excellent levels of light grasp
  • The pricing and configuration of the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic makes it an ideal telescope for beginners

Cons

  • The aperture is small by Dobsonian standards but still more than enough for the needs of any amateur astronomer

Verdict of the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Telescope

A telescope like the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope makes stargazing easy, fun and accessible to almost every single member of your family. It’s portable and extremely easy to use but still provides excellent views of everything the skies have to offer you.


Telescope Reviews: Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope

If you’re just starting out as an astronomy hobbyist you have two choices when choosing your first telescope. You can choose some mass produced mall store telescope or you can choose a brand like Celestron. The choice might not seem an obvious one at first because of the price difference between a Celestron scope and the mall trashscope costing $50, but you have to take into account that Celestron have been making telescopes since 1964. In fact before Celestron existed as a company the creative force behind this business, Tom Johnson, was manufacturing electronic components for the US military. It was only a twist of fate that caused Tom to start his own telescope business – he’d only intended building a telescope for his kids, but as with most great events he “accidentally” went into the business of making telescopes instead.

So when you’ve shopping for your first real telescope it’s always a good idea to spend your cash on a brand name you recognize and in the world of amateur astronomy there are few other names as well known as Celestron. Basically you know you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck when you buy a Celestron so let’s take a look at today’s review model, the Celestron NexStar 6 SE.

Celestron NexStar 6SE

6-inch Catadioptric Telescope

The Celestron NexStar is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, which basically means it has all the best components and qualities from both reflector and refractor telescopes. A compound telescope like this can be far, far more compact than a refractor and doesn’t take up nearly as much space as some of the larger Newtonian telescopes. Normally a telescope with a 6-inch aperture would need to be much larger and not be nearly as portable as a result of that. What you get with the Celestron NexStar telescope is one of the newest compound telescopes in the Celestron range, which features both highly optimized StarBright XLT lens coatings and a computerized system to make lining up stars and planets as easy as pie. The small physical size of this telescope also means that it’s easy to transport around if needs be.

High Magnification

Combining a 6-inch aperture with the supplied 25mm Plossl eyepiece provides you with an effective working magnification of 60x and a maximum magnification level of 459x. Obviously at the higher levels the amount of detail you can see is vastly reduced but within the 60x range of magnification you can enjoy the 44-foot field of view on offer by this scope. If you’ve only ever used refractors telescopes before you’re in for a bit of a treat using a catadioptric scope – there’s just such a huge difference when you stargaze with a “professional” telescope instead. The other benefit of something like the NexStar 6SE is that you can also use it during the day too.

SkyAlign

This particular part of Celestron technology allows you to correctly align your Celestron 6SE by simply pointing it at 3 bright stars and letting the computer do the rest of the work. In fact usage has shown that even if you’re dealing with tons of light pollution in your area that SkyAlign can use just two bright stars to align itself with, Polaris being the handiest one. Once the telescope is aligned you’ll find that it will track to whatever planet, star, galaxy or nebula you want to look at almost instantly. This is a big improvement on computerized telescopes from other manufacturers – they take what feels like a mini ice age to get lined up and ready for viewing. The Celestron NexStar system doesn’t suffer from any slow down and while other people are configuring their telescopes SkyAlign will have you online in just minutes.

NexStar Computer

Instead of relying on printed star charts you can just dial up the celestial body you want to have a look at from the NexStar telescope database of 40,000 objects. Luckily enough the computer is very easy to use and with a bit of practice you’ll be able to call up stellar locations with just one hand. The handheld computer screen is backlit so it’s ideal for being used at night and you can also upgrade the entire computer database through the Internet.

Color Choices

The Celestron NexStar 6SE comes in bright orange, as with others in the Celestron NexStar range. This color might not be your first choice but remember it’s the optics of this telescope that are going to give you the results you’re looking for and not the paint scheme.

Dimensions

This Celestron telescope has the following dimensions:

  • Focal length: 1500mm
  • Aperture: 150mm (5.91 inches)
  • Maximum magnification: 60x
  • Weight: 30 pounds in total

Additional Features

You also get a copy of “TheSkyX – First Light Edition” software when you purchase your Celestron NexStar 6SE, which is a nice touch.

Pros

  • A catadioptric telescope like the NexStar has a great set of optics for beginner and intermediate hobbyists alike
  • The NexStar telescope computer takes all of the guess work out of finding planets, stars and Messier objects
  • You’ll find the NexStar 6SE is also very portable and both easy and quick to set up in the first place

Cons

  • At above $700 (as of this writing) this isn’t a telescope you want to buy unless you actually plan on using it on a regular basis.

Verdict of the Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope

With a telescope like the Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope it won’t really matter if you’re a bit of an old hand at astronomy or you’re just getting started out with this amazing (and highly educational!) hobby you’ll find that this telescope has something to offer you.


Telescope Reviews: Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

With a suitably stellar name Orion has been supplying high-quality telescopes to their customers all over the world since 1975, making them one of the most readily recognized brand names in relation to star gazing anywhere on the planet. The founder and CEO of Orion, one Tim Gieseler, stayed in control of the company until it was acquired by the US company Imaginova in 2005. The good news is that the quality of product produced by Orion has remained very, very high and they continue to impress their new and existing fans and customers all over the world.

Today’s review is on the Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian telescope, so let’s get started!

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Dobsonian Telescope

This is one of these odd things about telescopes that you learn over time but calling a telescope “Dobsonian” isn’t really 100% correct because it’s only the mount that’s Dobsonian. What you basically have here is a reflector telescope mounted on a Dobsonian platform, so it becomes a Dobsonian telescope. Now we’re not trying to take away from the sheer genius behind this design folks – this type of mount is extremely stable, reliable and easy to use for even the most novices of astronomers. One of the many great features of a Dobsonian is that it has far fewer moving parts so there’s less that can go wrong.

Large 8″ Aperture

With an 8 Inch telescope, the XT8 Classic has huge amounts of light grasp for viewing both local and extra-solar bodies. For you this means you get great results when you’re looking at our “own” planets like Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and of course our own moon. But this size of aperture also means you get incredible clarity on deep sky objects such as star clusters, galaxies and of course the ever-colorful nebula. All of the most advanced electronics in the world can’t make up for sheer size of the mirror used in the SkyQuest XT8 – you’ll even feel like something of a mad scientist when you’re using it. It has that almost-kitch 70’s sci-fi movie feel to it!

Ease-of-Use

Probably the biggest selling point of any Dobsonian telescope is simply that they’re so easy to use. If you compare this type of mount to a standard equatorial mount you’ll see what we mean. Now that’s not to say that an EQ mount doesn’t have a place in astronomy because it most definitely does, but not everyone wants to have to worry about working with an overly-complicated mount. You see what people really want from their telescope is to simply point it at the sky, look through the eye piece and enjoy the interstellar lightshow that the Universe has been running for the last few billion years.

48x – 56x Magnification

The supplied 24mm Plossl eyepiece provides a 56x level of magnification so any member of your family can simply take a look and be impressed by the quality of image the XT8 Classic can produce. Another nice feature of the SkyQuest XT8 is that it “breaks” down into 2 pieces for easy transport so you’re not just restricted to using it in your yard. Bear in mind that you’re lifting around almost 5 feet of telescope so it’s not something you want to be have to do very often.

Color Choices

The Orion telescope is available in a glossy black finish only, as featured in this review.

Dimensions

This telescope has the following dimensions, specifications and features:

  • Optical diameter: 203mm
  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Focal ration: f/5.9
  • Highest useful magnification: 300x
  • Lowest useful magnification: 29x
  • Weight: 41 pounds fully assembled

Included Accessories

Orion never, ever shortchanges their customers when it comes to accessories and the XT8 is no different. You get a 25mm Plossl eyepiece and a 2-inch Crayford focuser which can accept the larger 1.25-inch and 2-inch Plossl eyepieces. You also get the EZ Finder II red-dot reflex sight, a collimation cap and of course the “Starry Night” software bundle too. Absolutely everything you need to get start is in the box waiting for you.

Pros

  • You’re investing in an Orion telescope – which is a real telescope and not some discount store knock-off
  • The Dobsonian mount provides a huge level of stability and reliability
  • The SkyQuest XT8 is very easy to use and is an ideal way to introduce your kids to astronomy
  • At less than $400 you’re getting a LOT of telescope for your money – both physically and financially
  • You get all the accessories you need

Cons

  • Some people don’t like Dobsonian telescopes because of the viewing position. Then again some people don’t like pie…there’s no accounting for taste is there?

Verdict of the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Telescope

If you like the idea of being able to see the rings of Saturn and being able to make out the color of certain nebula from the comfort of your own light-polluted back yard then the Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope deserves a place on your shopping list. This telescope will look like it’s complicated to use when you first see it but once you’ve used a Dobsonian ‘scope you might find it very difficult to get back to using an EQ or other mount on any telescope – it makes astronomy a lot more fun!


Telescope Reviews: Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope

There are a few names which will immediately spring to mind when you’re thinking about buying a telescope, or even if you’re just looking one up on online. Celestron is, and has been, one of the leading names in hobbyist telescopes for many years now. In fact Celestron had its start in business way back in the 1950s when it was manufacturing electronic components for the US military under the “Valor Electronics” brand name. It was only when the CEO of Valor (and up to recently Celestron) Tom Johnson built a telescope for his sons that he realized other people would be interested in buying telescopes for their kids too. So from 1964 onwards “Valor” was renamed to Celestron and the rest, as they say, is history!

The Celestron brand was acquired by Synta in 2005 but have continued their strong tradition of making some of the very best telescopes in the world. Although you might think that a brand name like Celestron is for home use only their products have been used in several major observatories including the famous Jodrell Bank.

Under our scrutiny today is the Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope, so let’s see how it did when we put it through its paces!

Celestron NexStar 4SE

Compound & Compact Telescope

You’ll notice almost immediately that the Celestron NexStar 4 SE is a very compact unit, which combines a wide aperture of 4-inches with an optical tube length of just over 13-inches. Fortunately the fact that this Celestron NexStar Telescope is catadioptric means that even though the scope itself looks like it belongs to a hobbit it actually has a focal length of 1325mm (52-inches). The technical name for this type of telescope is a Maksutov-Cassegrain and it combines all the bits that make refractors so popular (low cost) with everything that that makes reflectors so popular (high quality).

Basically the combination of lenses and mirrors means you can squeeze more out of this type of telescope overall, while not spending a lot of money. Oh and you can use a compound telescope during the day – which is not possible with Newtown/reflectors telescopes.

Proven Computer Control Tech

Even if you’re not a nerd or geek of Sheldon-esque (Big Bang Theory Sheldon of course!) proportions you’re still going to get a kick out of the fact that the Celestron NexStar 4 SE is fully computerized and motorized too. The NexStar 4SE technology which drives all of this has been tested and updated again and again over the years and has proven itself to be very reliable. One tiny niggle is the fact that you’re better off using latitude and longitude to set your location on terra firma – the idea of ZIP codes works but just not as well is all.

NexStar 4SE has a database of 40,000 objects and with just a few presses of the buttons on the controller your scope will track over to the star, planet or Messier Object you want to spend some time “Ohhhing” and “Ahhhing” over with your friends or family. Basically this type of technology makes astronomy far more attractive to the average person because you’re not fiddling with aligning your scope with Ursae Minoris (the North star) or having to spend ages setting the whole thing up. Basically just point your telescope at 3 bright stars and it calibrates itself for use. We’d recommend that you use NiMH rechargeable batteries though – the batteries tend to last just a few short hours.

Great Results

The Moon - Celestron 4SE

The nature of compound telescopes means you’re getting vivid images and a pretty wide field of view too. Of course the StarBright XLT coatings on the Celestron 4SE do obviously help quite a bit too. The inclusion of a 25mm Plossl eyepiece means you get a maximum magnification of 53x, which is more than enough to enjoy all of the sights our own solar system has to offer and the addition of a 12.5mm eyepiece can bump your magnification level right up to over 100x. This level of magnification is more than enough to pick out details on Jupiter for example.

Easy To Set Up

Celestron have done their best to make this telescope as easy to set up as possible and the single form arm assembly is part of that. If you’ve ever owned a basic refractor telescope you’ll know how messy and time consuming the setting up process can be. That’s what makes a high-quality telescope like the NexStar 4 SE such a pleasure to use – it’s very compact and tidy and there’s no tools needed to get everything in place. Then of course the NexStar computer and SkyAlign software make actually using this scope a whole lot easier too, with everything controlled from a single handheld unit.

Color Choices

Closeup of the moon - Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope

This Celestron telescope is available in a very typical bright orange color – not the first Celestron scope to share this color scheme.

Additional Features

You also get the StarPointer finder scope to make manually tracking certain celestial bodies that bit easier.

Included Accessories

When you purchase this Celestron NexStar 4SE Telescope you also get a copy of “”TheSkyX – First Light Edition” which is a piece of astronomy software that contains more than 10,000 separate objects, and has printable sky maps for you to use too.

Pros

  • The Celestron 4SE is a compact and highly affordable catadiopter
  • StarBright XLT and a standard 25mm Plossl eyepiece provide excellent visual results
  • The proven NexStar technology makes using this Celestron telescope very, very easy

Cons

  • As with any motorized and computerized telescope you’ll do better with an external power supply like a PowerTank or similar.

Verdict of the Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope

When you buy a Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope you’re getting a telescope which contains everything that has made Celestron a leading name in their field for so many years now. Plus you have the state-of-the-art features like the proven computer technology and software, which makes this telescope as suitable for a hobbyist as for a more advanced home astronomer.


Telescope Reviews: Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

Celestron is one of the oldest manufacturers of telescopes in the United States, having gone into business in 1955. Interestingly enough when Tom Johnson first started his business it was actually known as Valor Electronics and manufactured electronic components for the US military. It was only when he built a telescope for his sons in 1964 that he realized that there was a market for such things and as luck would have it he also realized that there was also a demand for Schmidt-Cassegrain (compound) telescopes at the same time.

So from 1964 onwards Valor Electronics was rebranded to Celestron Telescopes and remained in business until 1997 when they were takeover by Tasco and then in 2005 a company called Synta, a Taiwanese manufacturer of astronomy equipment and components, bought the Celestron brand and business. Sadly Tom Johnson, the founder of Celestron, only passed away very recently in March 2012 but his legacy lives on in every single Celestron telescope that’s pointed up at the sky each night.

Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

Schmidt-Cassegrain

So the Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope eh? So what exactly does that mean then? This type of telescope is known by a few different names and you might have heard the term catadioptric telescope, and if not then you’ll definitely have heard the term compound telescope before. That’s all that a Schmidt-Cassegrain actually is. The internals of this Celestron NexStar 8SE combines the best of what goes into a refractor telescope with the best of any reflector scope also, this combination giving a lower cost per aperture and impressive results too. Plus there’s also the advantage that you can use this telescope during the day or at night – you get a double whammy there in terms of overall value.

Motorized Celestial Fun

It’s the dream of any kid who has ever wanted a telescope to own one of the computer controlled models like the Celestron NextStar Telescope. So when you’ve become an adult (against your will, we know!) and want to treat yourself to something then this Celestron telescope is a great option. Well you can use the excuse that you’re buying it for “the kids” but you’re going to use it yourself too obviously. That’s no harm either – it beats turning your brain into goo by sitting and watching hours of bad news reports and Jersey Shore. Education stimulates the mind and gazing out into the universe is a great start!

The GoTo Computer

Now obviously a motorized telescope is very little use without a computer to control its motion and to help you pick out those planets and stars you’ve always wanted to take a look at. The GoTo computer has a database with over 40,000 celestial objects included in it and can even provide you with some basic info on whatever star or planet you’re currently focused on. In addition to this you can also connect a DSLR camera to this telescope and use the GoTo computer to trigger the shutter on the camera to take pictures. Please bear in mind that the computer needs 8 x AA batteries and you’d best make sure these are high-quality batteries because the Celestron NexStar 8 eats lesser batteries for breakfast! The computer with this telescope is also flash upgradeable and can be connected to an external power source, such as a PowerTank, to save you a small fortune on buying and carrying replacement batteries around with you.

8-Inch Telescope

The gaping 203.2mm (8-inch) aperture of the Celestron 8 gives you an idea of what to expect when you’re looking through it. When you’re looking for the best possible sky gazing experience then you tend to get better results from a more expensive telescope with a bigger aperture, and of course the GoTo technology helps here too. The optics in the NexStar 8SE are coated with the StarBright XLT advanced coating so you get an extremely high level of performance from the scope overall. The single 25mm eyepiece provides for a maximum magnification of 81x, which is more than enough for picking out the bigger details of planets and objects without our own solar system but also to highlight detail on objects much, much further away.

Color Choices

The Celestron NexStar 8SE compound telescope is available in a rather nice orange color, pretty different for a telescope but not so different that you wind up hating it.

Dimensions

The Celestron NexStar has the following measurements and dimensions:

  • Focal length: 2032mm
  • Eyepiece: 25mm
  • Max magnification: 81x
  • Total weight: 24 pounds

Pros

  • The Celestron NexStar SE has excellent optics and they require little or no maintenance
  • Using the GoTo computer and software is very straightforward and removes a lot of the usual guesswork from stargazing
  • Even at 24-pounds assembled this telescope is still pretty light considering it also contains a motor – weighing far less than some other large telescopes

Cons

  • Celestron NextStar Telescope comes with a single eyepiece!
  • You really will need an external power source for any kind of extended use; it goes through unbranded batteries really quickly

Verdict of the Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope is very easy to set up and align, thanks to the GoTo software, and the optics is some of the best you’ll find at this price range. Great scope but a tiny bit expensive for some tastes.


What Do You Know About Meade Telescopes?

Unlike their main competitors – Orion and Celestron – Meade had a very different but very direct start in the business of creating and selling telescopes to amateur astronomers. In fact Meade Telescopes started out as a one-man operation (run by a guy called John Diebel) in 1972, selling refracting telescopes by mail-order from magazine and newspaper ads. Obviously the world was “space crazy” in the 1970s because we’d just had the moon landings and the Space Shuttle program was also in development. Basically people wanted to learn all about our solar system and our galaxy so there was strong demand for telescopes of all kinds.

While most of their customers were happy with the imported refracting telescopes they were getting, Meade noticed that a large number of their customers were enquiring about more powerful telescopes. This meant that there was a serious gap in the market which nobody seemed to be filling, so by 1977 they had gone into business making their own branded Meade telescopes and the world soon got to see what the Meade 628 (6-inch aperture) and Meade 826 (8-inch aperture) reflecting telescopes were capable of. Obviously they were a big hit with both existing Meade customers, plus all the new Meade fans which appeared as a result of the release of their own range of telescopes.

The next step Meade took in the development of their business was to invest very heavily in the manufacture of their own Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric telescope, which absorbed pretty much every financial, technical and human resources the company had. To outsiders it appeared that Meade had bitten off way more than they could chew but the release of the Model 2080, an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, finally made people sit up and pay attention to Meade as a serious contender in the amateur astronomy market.

Since then Meade have gone on to release innovation after innovation in terms of the types of telescopes they’ve produced, including the first commercially successful GoTo telescope system in 1991, and they were also responsible for the ETX series of Meade telescopes – the first truly computerized telescopes to be created for the amateur astronomer. This constant state of creativity has won them many fans, as has the fact that Meade telescopes are also reliable and don’t make a major dent in your wallet or credit rating either.

How Good are Meade Telescopes Though When It Really Comes Down to It?

Let’s take a look at one of the more popular telescopes in the Meade range – the ETX90EC AutoStar telescope.

The Meade ETX90EC Telescope

Meade ETX-90EC Telescope

This is one of the many Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes manufactured by Meade, and if you’re new to astronomy a MC telescope is what’s called a catadioptric or compound telescope. This means it uses both lenses and mirrors to create those stunning images of stars and planets you look forward to seeing each night. Now a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is nothing new but the this particular catadiopter is mounted on a twin fork equatorial mount, all of which is managed via an electronic controller.

The ETX90EC also features the AutoStar computer system which is designed to help you locate the exact celestial body you want to gaze at and all without using star charts or maps of any kind. One of the many benefits of the catadioptric design is that it means the optical tube is smaller and this means your telescope is lighter as a result. So even though this telescope is a computerized model it’s small enough to be carried around in the back of a car or simply moved around your home as you need to. The supplied Plossl eyepiece provides a 48x level of magnification but you can obviously swap this out for 12.5mm or 6mm Plossl eyepieces instead, depending on your preferences.

The final advantage/benefit of owning a telescope like the ETX90EC is that it can be used during the daytime too, so you’re getting two telescopes for the price of one really.

Conclusion 

Meade have been manufacturing telescopes for a long time now and that doesn’t seem set to change anytime soon, so if you’re looking for a home-grown telescope with a wealth of features that doesn’t cost the Earth then you should check out the range of Meade telescopes which are available online right now..


Telescope Reviews: Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope

There are a lot of different brands of telescopes available on the market today but there are some names which stand out more than others and Orion is one of the best known brands in the world of telescopes right now. Orion first went into the telescope business in 1975 when Tim Gieseler released the first of what was to become an internationally recognized brand of telescopes. Tim remained as the CEO and owner of the company until 2005 when a company called Imaginova bought out Orion, but the telescopes are still being marketed, sold and supported under the Orion brand name. Basically you can rest assured that these telescopes are still as good as they ever were.

So let’s go ahead and take a look at the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope and see what makes this telescope so special.

Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Newtonian Telescope

The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST is what’s called a Newtonian reflector which is named after the famous apple-on-the-head English physicist who invented this way of gazing at the stars. If you’re confused about what a Newtonian telescope is then don’t worry because it’s the exact same as a reflector telescope – it uses parabolic mirrors in the exact same way, it’s just a different name being used. When most people either buy or are bought their first telescope it’s usually a refractor scope, which uses lenses to focus the light from stars, planets etc. Refractors are fine but they tend to lack the accuracy and clarity of reflector or compound models, so a reflector actually makes far more sense as your first scope.

Compact Design

One of the many perks for owning a reflector telescope is they tend to be a lot more compact than a refractor and they have a much, much wider aperture too. The ST in the name of this telescope actually stands for “Short Tube” and this is basically a compact version of the standard SpaceProbe 130. The optical tube is 24-inches long, 9-inches less than the standard 130 model and it also has a focal length of 5.1-inches, which produces a pretty wide field of view for both beginner and more expert astronomers alike.

130mm Aperture

As you’ve probably guessed by now the “130 ST” has a 130mm (5.1-inch) aperture which means that this reflector can capture and focus a whole heap of light. If you’ve never used a reflector (Newtonian) scope before you’ll probably still find it strange that even with the light bounced around at different angles these kinds of telescopes still give such amazing results…but then again they were invented by a genius physicist who basically defined gravity and then proved that it existed. Anyways the aperture of the SpaceProbe 130ST is more than enough to produce amazing results even when you’re dealing with the growing problem of light pollution. Basically with this telescope you’ll be able to use it in an urban setting and get good results. However once you get it away from the mess of neon, halogen lights and sodium street lights the images are going to blow your socks off. Well not literally. Obviously. That would cost you a fortune in socks.

Magnification Maximum and Minimum

As with most things in life it’s going to come down to size and with the SpaceProbe 130ST we’re not talking physical size but the level of magnification you can get when using it. The good news is that with the supplied Plossl 25mm and 10mm eyepieces you can enjoy magnification of celestial bodies and events from 26x – 65x. The upper limit for this scope is 260x but that’s just a blur and you lose all definition when using the theoretical maximum of any telescope.

Precise Equatorial Mount

The EQ-2 equatorial mount for this telescope is ideal and you have dual setting circles and the obligatory slow-motion controls also. As with most reflector telescopes it’ll need to be Pole Aligned (aligned to Polaris, Ursae Minoris or the North Star) but once you’ve done that you can get busy enjoying your star gazing from a very stable and easy to use mount. There is an optional electronic drive assembly available for the SpaceProbe 130ST to if you want. Oh and the tripod is obviously height adjustable too.

Color Choices

The SpaceProbe 130ST comes in our preferred color for telescopes – black. Some people might disagree but we like telescopes in black. Simple as that.

Dimensions

  • Focal length: 650mm
  • Optical diameter: 130mm
  • Focal ratio: f/5.0
  • Weight: 24 lbs

Included Accessories

You get two Plossl eyepieces, a finder scope, a rack and pinion focuser, an accessory tray for your tripod, a collimation cap and the Starry Night software, among many other additional bits and pieces in the box. If you can say nothing else about Orion telescopes it’s that they never, ever skimp on the accessories – you get what you need in the box and then some!

Pros

  • With a 5.1-inch aperture you’ll get great views of the Moon and other planets in our solar system
  • You’re not just limited to our solar system however – you’ll also be able to see distant galaxies and star clusters
  • This telescope is very competitively priced for everything that you get
  • The equatorial mount is a pleasure to use every single time – smooth and accurate

Cons

  • We’re kinda struggling to find fault here because Orion scopes are just so danged good. The only possible downside with this scope is it might take a refractor scope user a while longer to get used to it.

Verdict of the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Telescope

The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope is a great telescope for both casual and more experienced astronomers because it’s light, highly accurate, easy to use and at just 24-pounds fully assembled you don’t need to be Kevin Sorbo to lunk it around with you.


What Do You Know About The Hubble Space Telescope

Scientists realized a long, long time ago that terrestrial telescopes were always going to be severely limited by a number of things but all of them caused by the atmosphere that surrounds our planet. This skim of complex gases provides any number of different ways to ruin images, plus when you factor in the growing problem of light pollution in almost every corner of the globe then you can see why using space-based telescopes make so much sense. Space telescopes had been the stuff of dreams for well over 60 years by the time Hubble was launched, but the technology to launch and then service the Hubble Space Telescope only became available in the 1980s when the Space Shuttle fleet finally went into service.

Quick History

The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who is widely recognized as one of the most important astronomers and cosmologists of the 20th century. NASA wanted to place a large telescope in low earth orbit, so that we could finally get a clear look at what our own galaxy and the universe beyond looks like. How big was this telescope designed to be? Well with an aperture of 2.4-meters and a total weight of 24,500 lbs this was no back yard telescope you were dealing with. The Hubble needed to have enough light grasp to literally allow astronomers to see into the furthest reaches of space, which also means literally looking backwards in time too.

The Dream

Funding for the Hubble Space Telescope first took place in the 1970s but unfortunately there were lots of complications and red tape to slow it down. Then when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lift off, killing everyone onboard, Hubble was held up yet again.

Finally, after even more delays, in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope made it to space, but the dream of incredible receiving images from space was almost shattered when it turns out that the massive mirror inside the telescope had been made incorrectly.

So before Hubble could ever provide one single image it was going to have to be extensively repaired – leaving astronomical and logistical egg on a lot of embarrassed faces at NASA. The general public has been waiting a long time to see the Hubble Space Telescope in action and to hear that the most important component of the telescope had been made incorrectly was crushing to say the least.

The Reality

Luckily enough the Space Shuttle was built for being able to perform exactly this type of repair mission on satellites and the STS-61 mission was launched on 1993 to get the Hubble Space Telescope back on track. This was achieved by first fixing the problem with the optics on the Hubble and the STS-61 crew also had a chance to perform some much needed upgrades to the telescope at the same time.

This wasn’t an easy repair mission by any stretch of the imagination and it took 11-days to complete the mission via a number of EVAs (space walks) – 5 in total. In fact the first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission broke the record for the number of EVAs performed during any one mission. So finally in 1993 the Hubble Space Telescope was finally able to focus and function properly – almost 20 years after it received initial funding.

Since then Hubble has been sending back the types of images that ground-based astronomers could only dream of – obviously the advanced optics and being able to see in a variety of light spectrums is an advantage, but the main advantage is still that the telescope itself is outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. From any astronomers point of view the Hubble Space Telescope was worth every cent of the money invested in it.

The Future

The Hubble was never designed to be a long-term solution to the need for a space telescope and it’s expected to begin winding down its service as of this year, 2013. The first reason for this is that the newer, larger and more powerful James Webb Space Telescope is due to replace it but there’s also the reality that Hubble needs repair and maintenance and the mothballing of the Space Shuttle fleet means there is simply no effective way to do that.

Of course the cancellation of the Constellation program didn’t help and right now America is relying on Soyuz launches to ferry their crew into orbit – far more cheaply and reliably than the Space Shuttle ever could.

The James Webb Telescope is designed to go online around 2018 so until NASA (or potentially SpaceX) has a replacement for the Space Shuttle the Hubble is going to have to stay put for the foreseeable future.

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