What do I need to start in Astronomy - Telescopes or Binoculars?
Your interested in the night sky and stargazing or thinking of buying a Telescope and wondering what is the best way to start enjoying astronomy and what the best buys are, see our starter guide below or visit our How to choose a Telescope section for a more detailed guide....
Binoculars for astronomy
Binoculars are a great place to start stargazing, great value, easy to use and really useful, we recommend 40mm to 50mm pairs as a good handheld size, if you own some next time you see the Moon up take a look, it's surprising what detail will be revealed. Moving on from the Moon you can even see Jupiters moons strung out with just 8x or 10x magnification - but how do I find Jupiter? All the Monthly Astronomy magazines contain great guides to finding objects easily, Astronomy Now and Sky at Night Magazine are available from good newsagents. Another useful resource is of course the internet, see our Links section for a list of astronomy websites. If your looking for astronomy binoculars we recommend 10x50, they are great for the night sky but also perfect for everyday use, see our Binoculars section for more info.
The Moon image here on the right is approxomately how it looks through a good pair of 10x50 binoculars.
Telescopes for astronomy
So you want a first telescope and cant decide where to start, the good news is that these days all telescopes from reputable specialists are going to provide sharp clear views of the night sky. A great place to start is a 60mm or 70mm refractor telescope on a simple mount and tripod, these are usually well under £100 and sturdy reliable instruments complete and ready to use for stargazing. You can expect to see fantastic lunar detail with these along with views of the bright planets that will show the following:
Saturn - you can see the rings well from 50x magnification and some of its moons
Jupiter - two and sometimes four cloudbelts, some subtle colour and four moons
Mars - white polar ice caps and subtle dark markings along with its red colouration
Other planets are visible but without detail, brighter deep sky objects like galaxies, nebulae and clusters are visible but they will be faint and difficult from towns and cities. You can find a variety of great instruments in our Starter Telescopes section or browse the complete range in our Telescopes section.
What is a Goto telescope?
Goto telescopes are instruments that are capable of finding objects in the night sky, one of the biggest frustrations for beginners is learning the night sky. In the UK clear nights are few and far between and many of us lead busy lives, the Goto telescope maximises your time under the night sky stargazing so its spent looking at rather than looking for objects.
Do they cost more and are they hard to set up?
The prices of a Goto telescope are well within the budget of many beginners, there are models from Meade, SkyWatcher and Celestron (all good brands) for a few hundred pounds. All of these instruments will have great optics and are supplied complete and ready to use.
Setting up varies from model to model but generally they require you to input time, date, location then point them north and level. Setup time is usually under two minutes and then you have access to their onboard object libraries of many thousands of objects - all just a push of a button away. Some newer models align themselves and even give you guided tours of the night sky, see our Telescopes section for more details and remember our lines on 01932 703605 are open six days a week if you have any questions.
Finally why not take a look at our or Astronomy News section, there are always some up to date articles including news about the International Space Station as well as some objects worth a look with the naked eye.
Telescopes - SkyWatcher - Celestron - Meade - Coronado - Baader - Starlight Instruments - Takahashi