Which telescope to buy?

Below are some of the telescopes I’ve used in recent years, ranging from ~30 -3000 dollars. (shortened for YTs character limits)

Price $35
76mm reflector dobsonian mounted (Celestron Firstscope)
Weight ~ 1kg (a couple of pounds)
Setup time ~0
East of Transport 1
Short focal length- wide angle field of view. Finder not really necessary.
Ultra cheap, good views of Moon, Jupiter Venus, rings of Saturn, bright, wide separation double stars, and brighter deep sky objects such as M13. I was not particularly impressed with the optics on mine, but for 35 bucks, you cant complain too much!

Price $200
90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain, dobsonian mount (Orion Apex)
Weight ~ 1kg (a couple of pounds)
Setup time ~0
East of Transport 1
Longer focal length means smaller field of view for comparable eye pieces. I was impressed with this scope on the planets. It vastly outperforms the Firstscope on optics. The scope comes off the dobsonian mount on a quick release and can be mounted as a spotter scope (the main reason I got it). The dobsonian mount here (one arm) is exactly the same as the mount for the Firstscope. These are sort of the poor mans refractor. Great views of Moon and all the bright planets. Picked out Titan (brightest moon of saturn) with ease. I got this telescope for two reasons, firstly for outreach, in that you can just grab it and point it in seconds, zero setup time. Secondly I can mount it piggyback on the CPC11 (see below) and use it as a spotting/ guide scope.
The Maksutov has the ‘nice’ feature that its a closed tube(helps keep dust out). The Mak. will have the edge on planets/ guidescope etc due to its longer focal length, but the Newtonian will be more all around bang for the buck.

Price $600
10in Newtonian reflector, dobsonian mount (Celestron Starhopper)
Weight ~ 15kg (~30lbs)
Setup time ~10 mins to carry parts outside, 10 mins + cool down.
East of Transport: Telescope is about the size of a small child (although not that heavy). It is big and awkward. Difficult to handle for the small. Almost the biggest telescope you can fit in a compact car (the reason I got it).
The long open optical train requires periodic alignment (columniation) if it is frequently transported. Powerful deep-sky scope. Near zero photographic potential, but fantastic views of nebula, globular clusters and galaxies. Great scope for planets too. At this size the moon is getting too bright to look at for any length of time. Like most big newtonians, short focal ratio, which pragmatically means you get quite wide angle views. Again well suited to deep sky observing.

Price $1500
90mm (3.5in) Stellarvue apochromat, -no mount, tube only (Apo Triplet)
Weight ~ 4kg (~8lbs)
East of Transport: The telescope is small and easy to transport. Comes with a bag that will go on an airplane as hand baggage.
Worth the price for the aperture? Probably not unless you are in a fairly specific niche.
This makes a great wide angle lenses for guided photography. As a guidescope its focal length is kind of short. That basically means the field of view for a given eye piece is wide. You need a very short focal length eye piece to get good magnification. I found myself using a 4mm eyepiece to look at planets, and even at that the image was small. As a finder scope though, that wide field is great. The other thing that these scope gives is absolutely beautiful stellar images. The stars just fall into incredible pin pricks.
Beautiful contrasty flat views. I found the use of the short focal length eyepieces annoying for planetary use. Lacks the light gathering for versatility as a deep sky instrument. I only really ever used this as a piggybacker for the CPC11 below.

Price $2800
11in Schmidt Cassegrain, driven goto alt-az fork mount (CPC11)
Weight ~ 30kg (~65lbs) and thats just the top section. Tripods another 15 kg I think.
Setup time ~30 mins to carry parts outside and align, 20 mins + cool down.
East of Transport: It will fit in a compact car. To carry the telescope any distance really isnt an option unless you are strong. The ergonomic design is very good though. I always found mounting up the scope a bit of a bitch. Aligning it is relatively easy as the scope mount has a GPS in it that means you dont have to plug in these numbers and the time. Alignment is quite easy. I found the scope slips relatively easily unless the clutches are done up very tight. The scope can carry quite a burden (although of course when the scope weights this much extra, it does need to be well balanced). At this level it is an excellent photographic platform. It yields amazing views of almost everything. It’s photographic potential is probably as good as you can get from a portable platform.
This is the instrument I used to do the full rotation of Jupiter, although there the primary limitation was the stability of the sky.

Comments

Pero Peric says:

Why can’t we use hubble and point it at Mars and then see absolutly everything on Mars. If hubble can see to even 12 billion far away galaxies. Why can’t it see Mars so clearly we could even see dust on Mars????

JamiEF says:

Thanks

Daniel Cooper says:

I am near the equator, in the tropics and in a city. I can see major stars and planets on a clear night, well. What is a good telescope to buy in these conditions?

J R's Place says:

Just to throw it out there, I have several telescopes, but my light bucket is an 8″ Orion reflector and I’m pretty happy with it as far as bang for buck. If I was to do it over though, I would have bought the 10″. The computer stopped working, but I’m fine with that because reading star charts and being able to use a finder scope to me, is important.

John Batchler says:

i have expensive optics but they r not design for deep sky objects

markspc1 says:

Gee Thunderf00t
I would like to point out that the diameter of the lens or mirror has nothing to do with focal length. Please take your high school physics book and check the mathematical equation for lenses. As an example take a focal length of 400mm, for a lens that has an f/10 (focal ratio) the diameter of the primary lens or mirror will be 40mm (a cheap telescope ~$80), for an f/6.8 (medium priced ~$500) the diameter will be 59mm and for an f/2.8 the diameter will be 143mm (expensive ~$5000).

chuck Ramsey says:

I live about 20 minutes from Chicago Illinois and I was hoping to get a telescope capable of seeing nearby nebula and such, also wanting to get into astrophotography. Do you have any suggestions with keeping in mind the moderately high light pollution here?

OEFVET says:

(4:58) “The earth’s rotation becomes a bit of a bitch; the earth is hammering around such that THE SKY APPARENTLY ROTATES ONCE PER DAY” Yeah, it’s called FLAT EARTH! Speak up for truth, so what if the sun / NASA worshipers become unhinged?

King Bankshotz says:

i have a limit of 200$ usd. Id like a scope that can see planets very well but also being able to see other cool things in space. Certain stars you cant see with the naked eye. Maybe a Nebula depending on if thats possible. and as much as i could get for that price. im new so any tips or corrections would help.

Net ty says:

you really dont know shit you’re out of date you also sound like a right clever twat and you’re not ! green is the colour of all light and i dont like you at all i wounder why is its the narcissistic undertone in your voice or are you just a pompous arse and your english not american so we call them pounds sterling not dollars 😛 V ……….

solountipomas says:

What´s the most affordable scope capable of following an objet by itself?

Curtis Conkey says:

Thanks for the effort you put into this video. Very helpful. Much appreciated.

John does Flips says:

Do I just skip this and go for a nexatar 6se I’m think I’m going to do that yes or no

Will Nettles says:

Good information. Thank you. Finding objects and lining up the scope can be a real headache even if you have some knowledge and skill, often even if you know where the object is, even if you are looking at it! I look forward to using a Go To.

DragonSkaterrr says:

sooo… size matters? XDDD just kidding

s b says:

This guy knows what he’s talking about. I am also of the opinion that aperture is NOT the most important thing when it comes to astronomy.. dark skies are much more important.

It really shocked me when the andromeda galaxy appeared brighter with my NAKED EYE at a dark sky site, than through a 4 inch telescope under moderate light pollution… I couldn’t believe it. If you’re worried that the telescope you are about to buy is too small in aperture, don’t be – I can spot 11th magnitude galaxies through my 80mm scope, given the right conditions.

I QUIT FLAT EARTH says:

If you want to take Flat Earth images of the stars I highly recommend fogging your lens a bit and making sure it is out of focus.
That was you get those shimmery blobs they claim stars are.

space_artist_4real says:

If I have a *correct* newtonian telescope that is aging but is kinda okay for planetary observation (I saw Jupiter’s gas strats one time but it was all blurry), will the quality of my observations get higher up or down if I buy an ETX 90 observer?

And is buying a Questar 3.5 worth it?

saffy blu says:

I can’t believe that ppl looking here for true info (comments are sometimes helpful), but these crude & stupid comments haven’t been deleted yet! Why do you allow them?

WHITE EARTHLING says:

hey thunderf00t! good vid…I thought I would ask for your opinion on my recently ordered ” Celestron Astromaster 130eq telescope ” I have never used a telescope before and have always been totally fascinated by the unknown. I would highly appreciate your opinion and any advice you may be able to give me as a new amateur sky watcher. I hope to be seeing stars, planets and galaxies…apparently my new telescope may not be so suitable for examining structures on the moon??? would appreciate some advice as to how I might better those prospects ie lenses?? and which ones?? any help from anyone would be really welcomed. Tips on starting out would be benefit a great deal also.
many thanks

Guy Sly says:

What we see is what we get; the motion of the celestial bodies is just that.

My logic is a force to be reckoned with. says:

I got a celestron astro master 114 for Christmas’s, I have seen Venus and mars.

Travis Gibby says:

Thunderfoot, what’s more important, length or girth?

Max Newell says:

after i watched this i bought a 6 inch dobsonian and use it frequently. im really happy with its performance.

Aditya Saxena says:

Do you voice for Jarvis in Iron Man? 😛

Aeroscience says:

Celestron firstscope is now $50! Why’d they up the price?

thestoneddog says:

is a dobsonian better than a equatorial mount i have a 3″ reflector on an eq mount and i like it i know its way better than just a azimuth mount a had a azimuth mount scope before and it was almost impossible to stay on an object with it

naomangaka says:

is this Vaati vidia

Pit Gutzmann says:

Thank you, that was very informative.

Synthusiast says:

I bought a cheapass 20 euro’s refractor telescope 60mm. I had a hard time making pictures with my smartphone, but got some nice details of the moon. The following day I supect I spotted Jupiter, it has a dark line underneath but the image was a bit blurred. Quite happy spotting planets from my livingroom in urban area.

Time to get a better one, perhaps with some light fiters. (90/900,f10)

Lambda Studios says:

I have an urgent question!! What telescope would be better for viewing the moon, nebulae, Jupiter, Saturn, mars, and other objects. Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ, or Celestron NexStar 130SLT Newtonian Reflector? Please answer quickly! (Thanks! :))

Faisal AL-Maiman says:

Hi there

thank you for the video I really loved it and learned from it. I’m a photographer who lacks any knowledge about astronomy. I’m starting to have a fascination building up towards photographing stars and planets. I want to achieve sharp images with bright colors and all. I sure know I need a good telescope but the problem is that I don’t know where to start and what to buy. Can you help me with my pick? my budget is no more than 1400$…

Thank you so much in advance.

Richard James says:

For BEGINNERS the best things to see in a small telescope are the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter and the bright deep sky objects (with low power), The Pleiades, Sword Handle, Beehive, M35, the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. Much else (except some in the Southern Hemisphere) are a disappointment. The best value are the 130mm range, or for more serious views 200mm +. Take little notice of magnifications (It’s like putting a mini car engine in a Rolls Royce!), – rather go for the largest aperture for your budget.

DCM SR says:

Although the video is about 7 yrs old it is quite informative insomuch as the equipment and value for that time/ fast forward to present I bet I can get this same set up with good used equipment and possibly a good price, This is only achievable because of the great information in Video and description. A Testament to great work. Thank you again for sharing

Snigdha Chakraborty says:

Which Is The Best Hear In Qulity ?

King morons says:

i just want to look in my neberhood house lolll

Vicky Yao says:

Specialist ,Would like to talking with you more for Binocular telescope ? Any chances ?

rktman1965 says:

Very nice video covering the basics for us beginner stargazers thank you Thunderf00t.

Benz Hiemer says:

Probably a good video when looking on the used market for an expensive scope at a cheap price BAM!

Tim Smith says:

One of my favorite atheists. I just bought a telescope and was interested an educational video about it. I knew I recognized that voice! LOL!

Curt Jerker says:

Thanks….man
I want to buy one with 80mm but I found another options
1. Used astromaster 90mm for $115 with only 20mm eyepiece..
2. Used Astormaater 70 mm for $82
3. New Celestron 22065 Astromaster 102AZ Telescope

what is your recommendations please help?

Ryan Leach says:

nice voice

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