How much are telescopes and how good quality?

I was just wondering about telescopes whats the cheapest you can get one that actually works? And how much can you get one for, that you can see the moon and planets with in quite good detail?
I’m only sixteen so anything over £100 is going to be too much, is it worth it? 😛

The best deal in telescopes is the Dobsonian design, such as these:
http://www.opticalvision.co.uk/astronomical_telescopes/sky-watcher/dobsonians

With telescopes, you very much get what you pay for. A £100 telescope will be extremely limited in what it will show you, and you will soon be frustrated and wanting more. Most of the telescopes in this price range are cheaply made toys…the ones on the page above are some of the rare exceptions. Quite frankly I wouldn’t recommend any of the competition. Read some of the recent telescope questions here and you’ll see how frustrating cheap telescopes can be! Anything less than a 150-mm Dobsonian is probably a waste of money, so realistically you’re looking at around £200.

Here are a few web pages with good information on beginner’s telescopes:
http://www.gaherty.ca/tme/TME0702_Buying_a_Telescope.pdf
http://www.scopereviews.com/begin.html
http://observers.org/beginner/j.r.f.beginner.html

For more advanced information, read Phil Harrington’s Star Ware, 4th edition (Wiley).

You’ll get the greatest value for your money with a Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount, such as these:
http://www.telescope.com/control/category/~category_id=dobsonians/~pcategory=telescopes/~VIEW_INDEX=0/~VIEW_SIZE=1000000
http://www.skywatchertelescope.net/swtinc/product.php?class1=1&class2=106

Buy from a store which specializes in telescopes and astronomy, either locally or online; don’t buy from department stores, discount stores or eBay as mostly what they sell is junk. Find your local astronomy club and try out different telescopes at one of their star parties:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/organizations

I strongly recommend that beginners steer clear of astrophotography until they have learned their way around the sky. Astrophotography is by far the most expensive and difficult area of amateur astronomy.

Many people who buy telescopes have no idea how to find interesting things to observe. A good introduction to finding things is NightWatch by Terence Dickinson (Firefly). A more advanced book is Star Watch by Phil Harrington (Wiley).


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