How to Buy a Telescope: Best Brands in Today’s Market
A buying decision needs certain factors to be considered. People usually give more weight to their budget and settle for a product which barely fits their criteria. But when it comes to buying a telescope, the decision becomes crucial because of the information deficit and the huge number of products that invades the market. However, with little work in gathering information about the features of the telescope and by matching them with other products, you will surely make a correct buying choice which will not end in regrets.
There are some essential features which are a compulsory ingredient of a good telescope.
Foremost the quality of optics. Good quality optics not only makes the view adorable, but are also durable and will last longer. That is the most important feature for every kind of telescope, no matter what type it belongs to or what purpose it is used for.
Furthermore, the aperture of the telescope should match your needs and should fit within the available budget. There are some mouth-watering versions of telescopes available based on the size of the aperture. There is a rule of thumb that aperture should not be less than 2.8 inches, the greater the diameter the better. The size of aperture lets you see fainter objects and also enhances the view with more details.
But it also depends on which part of the city you live in. If you live away from the city lights or you can take your study session far from the main city, a small aperture will work fine for faint objects. As you move closer to the city, you will need a larger aperture for your telescope.
To move your study to a proper place your scope needs to be portable, so you have to consider that portability becomes essential.
Lastly the most unappreciated feature of the telescope is its mount. Although most of them can fit in the tripod commonly used for family photo, watching stars is different than capturing a nice moment on your DSLR. The mount needs to be stable and movable, in case there is a moving star under focus.
Based on the general features which are mentioned above, a fair comparison of the best telescope brands can be drawn.
The most famous producers are Meade, Celestron and Questar, which are also called the big three. Hence the following comparison is based on the factors mentioned above and classified on the purpose for which the telescope is used.
Meade ETX was introduced in 1996 for the first time. The general anticipation was that it will beat the legendary Questar. The cost of their first product was around $500. However, it failed to meet the customer expectations on several levels. The major problem was regarding the drive base used to have a tremendous slack and the secondary baffle also used to come loose over time. The focuser was also worthless with a cheap looking axis lock. All these mechanical faults led to shed the positives of the Meade ETX and the good optical lens quality was not good enough to cost $500.
The brand, however improved incredibly in recent years integrated with the Go-To technology, which means there is no need to manually adjust the scope. With this latest technological invention and the tripod stand which provides stability, the Meade EXT still costs around $500, which is not very expensive compared to the previous products of the brand which had major technical flaws.
Celestron clearly stands out among all the telescope brands. Most of the customers prefer it over the other brands including Meade. Its C90 was first introduced in the 1970s. This particular product was a disappointment on many levels and was very expensive. According to the current CPI, its cost was $1160. The eyepieces were cheap 0.965”. Visual back had an option to be upgraded to 1.25” but just to increase the cost. However, lately the brand has cut prices and now lesser prices offer much more.
The brand offers several types of telescopes ranging from small portable ones and the larger reflectors and catadioptrics. It is known particularly for its consistent quality. The lens is impressive and is available in a wide range of apertures. This allows the customer to better choose according to their preferences.
Questar is the most famous brand among amateur astronomers. It is known for producing telescopes which never compromise on their quality, hence these are a touch more expensive than the other brands. The most famous product is Questar 3.5” but there are several product lines which include science surveillance and nature instruments. The 3.5” Questar further has several models based on their uses and precision.
The brand also offers the highest quality telescopes which include the 7” and 12” scopes. The high quality telescopes produced by Questar also offer a variety of eyepieces ranging from 8mm to 32mm. The finder power also varies from 3x to 12x. The focus is controlled using the primary mirror and it offers a very smooth and precise focus making its focuser one of the best. Other features include the rotating tube, the tri-stand and the dew shield which complement its offerings.
It’s a well known fact among astronomers that it’s very difficult to find an unhappy Questar customer.