Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Advice for First Time Telescope Buyers, and December Star Chart

By David Reneke

Get it right when you put a telescope under the Christmas tree.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

What’s on the top of your Xmas list this year? Maybe a telescope?

I get a lot of people asking me about the best telescope to buy, and the short answer is: the dearest one you can afford.

Modern telescopes are a compromise between price and quality and any telescope in this country under $300 is not going to do any serious work for you. Don’t buy from a department store. Buy from a dealer who knows about telescopes, a camera shop for instance, or a telescope retailer.

The best way to get into astronomy is to first learn the constellations, and then use a pair of binoculars to find your first ‘deep sky’ objects. Binoculars really can show quite a number of interesting sights in the night sky. Another great way to start in astronomy is to visit a local astronomy club.

One target that will show tremendous detail (even in a small telescope) is the Moon. Even a small telescope will reveal a wealth of detail. You'll be able to see craters, mountains, "seas", and a number of other fine details. The quality of the view you will have on these kinds of objects depends to a very large degree on how much light pollution you have in your area.

As far as beginner telescopes are concerned, there are many junk telescopes out there, but decent starter scopes are not too expensive. Expect to pay at least $300 for a quality beginner telescope in Australia...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.