Full list of affordable, beginner telescope recommendations can be found here: http://eyesonthesky.com/Blog/tabid/80/EntryId/242/The-best-affordable-beginner-telescope-options.aspx
First, I would strongly encourage you to learn about telescope types, accessories like eyepieces and barlow lenses, plus how to calculate magnification, understanding telescopic and apparent field of view, and the types plus how to align a finderscope. So that equatorial mounts are not confusing, you can also learn how to align and how to use an equatorial mount will help make those kinds of mounts more easily understood as well. You’ll be better informed in about an hour, and (almost) all are closed-captioned so you can read what’s said while watching them (for instance, if you’re at work… not that anyone does that ever, LOL). ALL OF THAT CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://eyesonthesky.com/Blog/tabid/80/EntryId/179/The-Ultimate-Beginners-Guide-to-Telescopes-and-Amateur-Astronomy.aspx
300mm focal length Dobsonian-type reflectors – three versions:
A, Orion Funscope – will need a table/tripod, and very soon require a 2.5x or 3x barlow lens, review here.
B. Skywatcher Heritage 76 is a similar version available in Europe.
C. Celestron has TWO versions of their similarly-made Firstscope, one of which does not include finderscope and is not recommended; the other is the COSMOS Firstscope that DOES come with a red dot finder and two 3-element eyepieces that are better than the 2-element ones included with the lesser Firstscope.
Astronomers Without Borders OnesSky telescope (Skywatcher Heritage 130P is identical scope) – Gary Seronik of Sky and Telescope says “I can’t imagine a beginner not being thrilled with the views it provides. It gets my vote for the best bang-for-the-buck beginner’s scope currently available.” Still needs a barlow and a table/tripod on which to place it. Also the focuser is helical, not the typical rack and pinion type. May require some work to avoid stray light entering focuser/eyepiece. Overall good value.
Orion Starblast 4.5 – Needs barlow lens and table/tripod. Adequate included optics, but will require eventual upgrades of either barlow lens and/or shorter focal length eyepieces. Coma around edges is apparent, but does provide wide field views.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Orion XT4.5 Dobsonian – Another good option for a first telescope, but not motor driven. Optics will produce good images with little to no coma, and are marginally diffraction limited. Includes usefully sized (and not stopped down!) 6×26 correct image finderscope and TWO good quality Plossl-type eyepieces. Excellent value, though small and requires a crate or box to be at adequate height for most teens and adults even with a chair.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Orion XT6 or XT8 – Many people will say that the best 6″ f/8 telescope is an 8″ f/6. But don’t neglect the weight, size, and less collimation required for a 6″ scope. An f/8 is more forgiving of poor collimation. But an 8″ scope has more light gathering capability. Both of these are good options. Both will need eventual add on’s and updates, but are good telescopes right out of the box.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Apertura 8 – Another worthwhile option for a Dobsonian telescope; some people prefer these due to the focuser / eyepiece options and believe they are better than Orion’s offerings.
TO SUM UP
Keep in mind that ALL of these telescopes will likely need either some additional accessories, perhaps a bit of work on a tripod, or some other improvements. Remember, retailers are trying to hit prices points so you’ll even CONSIDER them. If they cut a corner, you may need to rebuild that corner, sooner or later. But these are all acceptable options for a telescope you can buy, right now, without having to ask if they are a “good” telescope.
TL;DR – Buy an 6″ f/8 Dobsonian telescope. If you have other questions or don’t have that kind of budget, go back to the beginning and read the whole post.
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