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Top 5 Telescopes for the Amateur Astronomer

a couple of years ago

Buying the right telescope is a personal decision that comes down to the preference of the astronomer. For the beginner astronomer (or amatuer astronomer) purchasing the first telescope can be intimidating. This list was compiled for that specific reason – to take the guess work out of purchasing a telescope for beginners. The key features that seem to interest beginners are easy assembly, portability, accessories, easy use, affordability, and of course the level of visibility. Ultimately, the most important attribute is how well users are able to see through their telescopes and what level of clarity. There are several complicated factors that contribute to these things however, and for that reason this list is comprised of the top five telescopes, which are sure to please both expert and amatuer astronomers alike.

5. Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector

At number five on the list of the best telescopes for beginners is the Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope. What makes this telescope great for beginners is that it has a quick and easy no-tool setup, a permanently mounted StarPointer, and a German Equatorial mount with setting circles which allows an amateur astronomer to accurately locate and track sky objects.

Pros:
• Easy set up with simple instructions which is perfect for the begginer astronomer
• Light-weight and compact
• Great for a first telescope
• Comes with two eyepieces
• According to reviews visibility through the telescope is great
Cons:
• Red Dot Scope has been an issue for some users
• Balancing this telescope can be difficult for the begginer astronomer
• Not computerized

4. Orion 27192 XT4.5 Dobsonian

The next telescope on the list is the Orion 27192 XT4.5 Dobsonian Telescope and Beginner Barlow Kit. This telescope is a really solid choice for beginners and has 114mm aperture and 900mm focal length. It also includes the beginning stargazers toolkit and a red LED light to see more clearly. For the price, this telescope comes with quite a few accessories which can make it an easy choice for the beginner because it keeps users from having to decipher which accessories they need to purchase.
Pros:
• Affordable – it is very well priced
• This telescope comes with Orion 2x Shorty Barlow Lens which doubles the magnification
• It is easy to assemble and lightweight
• Designed with new astronomers and beginners in mind
• According to reviews visibility through the telescope is great
Cons:
• Needs to be stabilized occasionally when viewing which can be a nuisance

3. Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian

The next choice on the list of telescopes for beginners is the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope. It features a large aperture, 8” diameter reflector optics (which let you view the moon and planets in very clear detail), and it has plenty of light to allow for fantastic views of galaxies, star clusters and faint nebulas. The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian also has a 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece, a collimation cap, Starry Night software, and EZ Finder II reflex sight.

Pros:
• Classic Dobsonian reflector telescope that is affordably priced
• Includes Dobsonian base to keep reflector optical tube balanced for point-and-view
• Telescope includes a 2” Crayford focuser
• Easily assembled
• EZ finder works well, smooth focusing motion

Cons:
• This telescope is heavy and large so it is not easily moved
Instructions for the Collimation cap are not included

2. Celestron NexStar 8 SE

The Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope features an 8-inch aperture, StarBright XLT high transmission coatings, and StarPointer finderscope to help users with alignment and accurately locating objects. Additionally the Celestron NexStar 8 SE includes a quick-release fork arm mount. The SkyAlign allows users to quickly view various celestial objects and re-align with ease.

Pros:
• Great optics
• 8 inch aperture allows good views of both planets and objects deep in space
• Works even in heavily polluted areas
• Weighs less than 30 pounds which makes it more portable and ideal for travel
• Includes Nexstar GoTo mount and computerized GoTo tracking
• Comes with 25mm Plossl eyepiece

Cons:
• Updates require an RS-232 cable to update firmware which can be difficult to come by
• It is not compatible with Apple products
• Alignment can be difficult
• Grinding noise from gears reported by some users
• No AC adapter included

1. Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian

At the top of the list of telescopes for beginners is the Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope which is the best rated telescope for beginners because it can handle the changing needs of the user. The Orion 8944 comes equipped with simple navigation and removes the need to polar align which makes it extremely simple and user friendly. Additionally, the six-inch diameter f/8 parabolic mirror is great for moon and planetary views and has enough light for viewing star clusters, and galaxies. Furthermore, the Orion 8944 comes with a vibration free base for smooth tracking motions.

Pros:
• Great optics, the details are spectacular
• Looks great as a display when not in use
• More affordable than several of the other options available
• 1200mm gives decent magnification values

Cons:
• Some reviews say that it is difficult to assemble without additional research
• Fairly large piece of equipment so it is not easily transported
• Can be difficult to fine focus

Final Thoughts

Overall, all five telescopes in the list are great for beginners depending upon the needs of the person using it, and this list makes it easy to find five of the best telescopes while avoiding feeling overwhelmed by the large number of telescopes that may not be of the best quality. In fact, the variety of equipment available is exactly what makes purchasing the correct telescope a little difficult for people new to astronomy. When still learning the ropes, the right equipment is essential, particularly because it is a bit of an investment and the range in price greatly varies. Furthermore, with all of the moving parts and pieces deciphering exactly which telescope is best can be extremely confusing. While all of the telescopes are a great investment, the best is easily the Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian telescope. It combines all of an astronomer’s favorite features such as easy assembly, great accessories, affordability, easy to use and most importantly great visibility. This telescope is an incredible choice for anyone who is seriously interested in astronomy – whether they are a beginner or a an expert. You won’t be disappointed!

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