Is it possible to find a decent telescope for under $200?
Telescopes are an incredible door to the heavens, for anybody intrigued by space science and willing to investigate the unending immensity of the world. Of course, it is possible to find a decent telescope for under $200, even though they usually come with some limitations. These devices are ideal for amateurs, who’re just beginning to dabble into astronomy and keen on taking it step by step. While the best telescopes under $200 are just as useful as more expensive models, they are usually found wanting in high-end features, that enhance your viewing sessions.
That is why manufacturers focus on the main feature a decent telescope should possess – high-quality lens and optics. The lens or primary mirror is usually of decent quality and likely to deliver a good image, enough to effortlessly observe the Moon, planets of our Solar System and stars. However not all the objects will appear flawlessly crisp, so pay attention to the eyepieces and maximum magnification a certain model can provide you with.
Features to consider while choosing a telescope
While a telescope can be one of your most important belongings when you find the right model, it can be a source of unending frustration for you when you end up with the wrong model. We don’t want you to be an unhappy buyer, so consider the factors below before choosing a telescope.
There are three types of telescopes and each one has their strong and weak points. They are categorized by the abilities to gather light and the way they go about it. Refractor scopes are better than every other type at viewing through light pollution. Also, they are ideal for planetary and lunar observations.
Reflector scopes, on the other hand, are perfect for deep-sky observation and don’t perform excellently with light pollution. These scopes require regular alignment and adjustment if used regularly.
Compound scopes utilize a mix of reflector and refractor elements. They’re great for general observation of the sky, and they perform well even in areas with light pollution. However, such models are of high-end scopes, and therefore were not included in the list.
The aperture is always one of the first considerations you need to make when buying a telescope of any kind. Even though it sounds somewhat complex, a telescope’s aperture is basically the diameter of its mirror or lens, depending on whether it’s a reflecting or refracting telescope. The larger the aperture of a telescope, the brighter the images you can view through the lens will be. If you are looking for a telescope with a fairly great aperture size, we recommend the Orion 10015 Starblast Telescope.
The focal length of a telescope has a direct influence on the amount of magnification. Basically, what this means is that the longer the scope’s focal length, the higher its magnification. Do not assume that the tube length of the scope is its focal length. Complex scopes, despite having short tubes, usually deliver a sharp and clear image. This means that longer focal length is achievable through the proper combination of lenses and mirrors.
The mount is another key factor you must take into consideration when shopping for the right telescope under 200 dollars. When it comes to purchasing a telescope, there are two primary mount categories that you need to know about: equatorial and altazimuth.
Equatorial mounts – We recommend equatorial mounts for people who are interested in advanced astronomy; this type of mount is usually not a good fit for beginner astronomers due to its complexity and intricacy. An equatorial mount has a north-south axis and an east-west axis, also referred to as a polar axis. So as to be parallel to the earth’s polar axis, you will need to tilt the north-south one. Some scopes with equatorial mounts include Meade Instruments 216002, Orion Observer 80ST, and Orion StarBlast II 4.5.
Altazimuth mounts – On the other hand, altazimuth mounts involve using a telescope in altitude and in azimuth, which easily tells us where its name came from (often abbreviated to alt-az). These mounts are suitable for beginner astronomers and people who are just developing an interest in celestial observation. Some scopes with alt-az mounts include Celestron 21061, Orion 10015, and Emarth 70mm Refractor Telescope.
An important part of choosing an astronomical telescope is understanding the importance of eyepieces. There is no greater secret behind enjoying a great stargazing experience than discovering the ideal magnification for the terrestrial objects you intend to view. If your magnification is too powerful or too weak, the celestial objects you are viewing can either look excessively bright to comprehend or excessively low-lighted to even see. You need to choose your preferred type of eyepiece depending on the kind of target you intend to observe. For instance, if you are looking to watch galaxies and planets, you should consider a great low power magnification eyepiece.
To know which magnification you can expect, simply divide the scope’s focal length by the eyepiece focal length (e.g. if you use a 25mm eyepiece with Orion StarBlast II 4.5
, the magnification is 450/25 = 18X).
For your scope to last you for a long time, it must have a high-quality construction. One of the positive things about telescopes is that they are not machines that can be broken easily and normally, they’re never in danger of getting damaged. Obviously, a telescope has to be able to withstand knocks or drops, and even a hit. However, the scope’s stability is even more crucial.
The more durable the scope is, the more accurate and precise its tracking and pointing will be. If you are intending to photograph the things you see in the sparkling sky or just don’t want to be dealing with a continuously shaky device, this will be very crucial to you.
Depending on the sort of person you are, this factor may or may not be important to you. If you are intending to use your scope at a specific place and not to ever travel with it, then the weight may not really be a point of focus for you. And besides, half the delight of having a telescope is in showing it off. For that, you may decide to travel with the scope.
For one thing, keep in mind that girth and weight are two different features. Even if a telescope weighs a tone, it can still be compact and vice versa. Therefore, don’t just make your judgment based on the weight only.
Make sure that some of the parts of the scope can be disassembled, and that it is adequately small not to consume too much space.
It is also important that you consider extra features such as accessories, warranty, instructional DVDs, and more. Buying a telescope that is backed by a good warranty is usually a confidence booster for buyers, and will give you a peace of mind. You also need to consider if the telescope comes with extras such as a tripod, instructional DVDs, or Map of the Moon.