How to choose the right telescope and watch the stars

In fact, choosing a telescope is not so easy. We tried to explain the main stages of selection and the features of different types of these devices.

The cosmos has an attractive force, and the study of planets, stars and meteorites are equally interesting as a child, so it is for an adult. How to choose a telescope for an amateur, to make acquaintance with the starry sky a pleasure? To do this, you need to carefully consider the choice of type, the optical system and the method of mounting the device. All parameters must correspond to the goals of the observer, so that the telescope becomes a source of new observations, and not another bulky box on the mezzanine.

Determining the lens type

The first step in solving the question of how to choose a telescope for observing planets is to determine the type of lens. They are:

  • mirror-lens (catadioptrics),
  • reflex,
  • refractor,
  • chromospheric.

To make it easier for you to understand the design, look at this picture here.


Mirror-lens models combine the advantages of reflex and refractor lenses, compact, they have a wide-format field of view. Such a construction of optics gives a minimum of distortion, it can also be used to create astrophotographs.

One example of such a telescope is the outdoor modelSky-Watcher BK MAK90EQ1.


The principle of operation of reflex telescopes is based on the interaction of paired mirrors. With their help, it is convenient to observe not only planets - they are adapted for viewing star clusters, nebulae and other scattered objects. The advantages of such models can be called light weight and compact dimensions, no chromatic interference, and also a low price.

A good example of such models is the outdoor telescopeVeber UMKA 76/300


Refractor telescopes are one of the most familiar to most people. Their appearance resembles a sliding telescope. This scheme has been used for more than 400 years, being the most reliable. Among the advantages is the tightness of the tube, no cleaning, independence of image quality from humidity and temperature. Such models are well suited for observing planets, but they are too weak to study galaxies and distant clusters.

One of these telescopes is the outdoorLEVENHUK Strike 90 PLUS

Solar telescopes

Chromospheric models are highly specialized - they are used for observations of the Sun. In fact, it can be called a heliograph. It is not only protected by a special aperture filter, protecting the eyes from sunlight, but it also allows us to consider what is happening on the surface of our star.

An example is the outdoor modelSky-Watcher SolarQuest,

To know for sure, which telescope to buy so as not to be disappointed, it is necessary to clearly imagine, what objects are you going to observe. The second choice parameter is the purchase budget. Eg, refractor models are technically complex, and therefore the most expensive.

Mounting types - differences and features

If the choice should start with the type of lens, then the second step is mounting. Experienced astronomers can choose more freely between different systems, but how to choose a telescope for beginners? Not only the convenience of studying the stars depends on the mount, features and compatibility with lens types, but also the price of the model.

There are four telescope mounting systems:

  • azimuthal,
  • equatorial,
  • azimuthal-equatorial,
  • Dobson system.

Azimuthal mounting type

Azimuthal type is more often used for installation of refractor models. It is a tripod with the ability to adjust the position horizontally and vertically. A good option for planetary observations, but it is absolutely unsuitable for studying deep space objects. Simpler models are either equipped with a fine guidance handle, or they do not have adjustment knobs at all.

In the segment, there are more expensive systems with two handles or friction clutches for more precise adjustment.

The advantages can be called simple installation, accessible even to a child, and also the convenience of observing distant ground objects on the principle of binoculars. The disadvantages include the lack of compensation for the Earth ’s rotation, problems with viewing celestial bodies at the zenith. It is also difficult to take space photos with such a tripod.

A typical example of azimuth mounting is the refractor modelSturman F30030 TX

Equatorial mounting method

The equatorial type of installation is based on two rotational axes - the earth and the equator axis. By changing the position of the tube relative to these axes, the user points the lens at the point of study. The category includes several subspecies, which can be grouped into two main types - German and fork.

is German for asymmetric mounting using a counterweight. The position adjustment is performed by manual or simple motorized control. The advantage of such mounting is called versatility - the installation is suitable for all models of the telescope, including refractors with long tubes.

One of the representatives of this subspecies is the floor refractor modelSynta BK 709EQ1

The fork unit has a lightweight shape without the use of counterweights. Guidance in most cases is used computerized. Among the disadvantages - it is suitable only for mounting mirror-lens models and reflectors with short tubes.

This is the system used in the catadioptric modelCelestron Advanced VX 8′ EdgeHD

The model is equipped with a remote control with a 2-line display monitor, compatible with GPS, and it can also connect to a PC. Updates of the control system are also available from the Internet.

Dobson’s method

One of the most convenient telescope installation systems is named after an amateur astronomer from the USA. It is a modification of the azimuth mount, in which a fixed plywood base is used instead of a tripod tripod. This installation is suitable for almost all types of telescopes with an upper eyepiece, and for models with a lens length of 20-30 cm, it is in principle the only possible one. It is not used for installing catadioptric telescopes.

The advantages of the Dobson installation method include ease of assembly, high speed of object pointing, compact and low price. An additional plus for an astronomer, if the system is equipped with a motorized displacement unit.

One of the most popular representatives of this category is the desktop reflex telescopeNational Geographic 114/500

Azimuthal-equatorial mounting type

Such models can be installed both azimuthally, so is the equatorial (astronomical) type of installation. As a rule, they are equipped with automatic homing to the object, simplifying the adjustment of the position adjustment.

This category includes a mirror-lens telescope with a Maksutov-Cassegrain optical system -Meade ETX-125 AT f/15

In this article we have reviewed the types of telescopes, how to choose the right model for observing the starry sky, as well as existing installation types. We hope, this will help novice astronomers to choose the right option.