QUESTION: I am thinking of taking up Astronomy as a hobby.

Could you recommend some good telescopes for adults ?

ANSWER: Hi Thomas

THis is a very complicated question.  Every telescope is a compromise between a number of elements.  The first, and most obvious one, is price.  The more money you spend, the bigger and better the telescope will be. Do you have an idea of how much you might want to spend?  That would help.

There are two other basic elements that come into play.  One is the mount of the scope.  A simple mount is the least expensive, but will require a lot more effort and expertise on your part.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are telescopes that are completely computerized and can find any object in the sky for you--but those cost a lot more money.

Finally, we should talk a little bit about the optics themselves. The traditional refractor telescope offers very good performance, but is expensive in larger sizes.  They work best for bright objects like the planets and the moon.  The reflector scopes have larger light-gathering mirrors, and so they are better for deep sky objects like galsxies and nebulae. And the compound scopes like schmidt-cassegrains are a combination of both--they can be larger, but they are also more expensive.

If you have an idea of what you want to observe, and how much money you'd like to spend, I can be a little more specific.  But bear in mind that there is always something better, bigger, and more expensive out there.  These days, for amateur astronomers, the sky really is the limit.

I would suggest that you find a local astronomers association in your area.  ALmost every city has one, and they regularly schedule "star parties" where they all meet to observe together.  This is the perfect way for you to look at a lot of different scopes, see them in action, and get a sense of what you would really like!

Paul Wagner

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I would start by observing nearest objects such as the lunar surface,Jupiter and Saturn however as I am a beginner I may need something that is computerised.I would be looking for something that would do for the present and as I get more advanced in Astronomy.

I could spend something in the region of 300-350 which is around  the $400-$500 mark or a bit more.

I am currently residing in Ireland.

Hi Thomas

I don't know if you can find something like this in Ireland, but I would suggest a 6 inch computerized reflector. Here is an example from a reputable dealer in the US:

The optics of this scope are similar to those recommended by Sir Patrick Moore for amateurs, and the computer will get you quickly around the sky.  And it is even suitable for more advanced viewing as your interests expand.  

I will stress again how important it is to find a dark place to observe--that will make all the difference!

Paul Wagner


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Paul Wagner


Astronomy and telescope making. Have made at least seven telescopes, both refractors and reflectors, and have spent 30 years looking at the nighttime sky.

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