Every product is independently selected by obsessive editors. Still, as enlightening as these things may be, the best way to get up close and personal with the moon and anything else in the solar system is also probably the most obvious — by using a telescope. All of the astronomers we spoke with said that beginners should start with a Dobsonian telescope. They have a Newtonian named after scientist Sir Isaac Newton reflector system, meaning that there are two mirrors — one concave and one flat — inside the telescope tube that gather light and produce the image you see in the viewfinder. Haupt tells us that although a lot of telescopes advertise magnifying power, what you really want is one with a greater capacity to collect light, allowing you to view dimmer objects in the sky. But the larger the telescope, of course, the heavier and more difficult to carry it will be.
The Best Telescopes for Beginners, According to Astronomers
Best Telescope for Amateurs and Hobby Astronomers
For the beginning hobby astronomer, the question of what is the best telescope for amateurs is quite difficult to answer. But it is tremendously important to choose the right kind of telescope and to know what to expect from a telescope. High expectations in what to see and falling for glossy advertising of cheap telescopes are easy to mislead. An unsuitable or useless telescope can quickly destroy the joy of amateur astronomy. With a well-thought-out telescope, and a clear idea of what to expect the most serious problems can be avoided. For a beginner, the most difficult task may be to choose between a Refractor or a Reflector telescope. The different designs come with certain advantages or disadvantages depending on the objects to be observed.
Amateur Astronomy is one of the most fascinating hobbies in the world, but to get really into it, you probably will want to get a telescope either for yourself or perhaps for a son or daughter who is showing an interest in the wonders of the universe. Somehow, you will have to find your way through the maze of ads, catalogs, claims and counterclaims about which telescope is best or the least expensive. Finally, you will have to lay out the cold hard cash needed to purchase what you hope will be the best instrument your money can buy.
Price drops for semi-pro astronomy gear have put some impressive equipment in the hands of astrophotographer hobbyists. Here you'll meet some of the best DIY astrophotographers in this growing subculture. But don't call them amateurs -- these terrestrial space explorers have some of the most sophisticated rigs outside the pros, and they know how to use them. Some are so good they're given access to the biggest telescopes available, including the Spitzer Space Telescopes.