One of the most important considerations when buying a telescope is the size of the scope’s aperture. Buyers must always be cognizant of the telescope’s aperture size (the diameter of its main light-gathering mirror or lens), because, generally speaking, the greater the aperture size, the sharper & brighter the observed image will be. Of course, as aperture size increases, so does the price & weight of the telescope you’re considering. What you must decide is what you wish to see with the telescope you purchase, and adjust your price point & weight expectations accordingly. In the remainder of this article, I consider 3 different aperture sizes (50-70mm, 71-129mm, and 130-149mm), find a representative example from Best Buy in each size range, and discuss what you can expect to see with each of these options.
In the 50-70mm size range I’m looking at the Space Navigator 60 x 700mm Star Finding Deluxe Telescope. This telescope’s 60mm objective lens features high-quality glass construction, and the scope itself offers a number of great features for the beginning or amateur astronomer. With 12.5mm & 20mm interchangeable eyepieces, a 700mm focal length, and the SkyView App (for guiding your search for interesting celestial objects in the real-time night sky), this scope has everything you need to flourish in your new found field. The Space Navigator is also fully portable, weighing in at a mere 2.04 Kgs (just under 4 and a half pounds), and it has an adjustable aluminum tripod so you can easily set it up on the top of your nearest hiking hill to get just a little bit closer to those ever elusive stars. You shouldn’t have any trouble at all bringing this telescope with you to any astronomical party or other nighttime viewing event. Moreover, this model will show you such images as the amazing details of Jupiter’s many colourful bands, and Saturn’s beautiful sandy rings. You can look, but you can’t touch!
The 71-129mm aperture range brings us the Meade Polaris 114mm Refractor Telescope. This light bender has some key advantages over the previous model, such as its 114mm aperture width & 1000mm focal length. This means that not only will you enjoy better light gathering capabilities with this telescope, but objects in its line of sight will also be highly magnified due to its impressive focal length (the overall focal ratio of this scope comes in at f/8.8). Additionally, this model features a German equatorial mount (for easily locating & tracking interesting celestial objects), eyepieces in 3 different sizes, 2 Barlow lenses (for doubling the magnification of each eyepiece), a Red Dot viewfinder, and the Autostar Suite Astronomy Planetarium DVD (for Windows PC use only). Among the many objects that you’ll easily be able to see are details of our own Moon’s fascinatingly scarred surface, the phases of Mercury, spectacular detail in the rings of Saturn (such as the Cassani Division), details of Uranus & Neptune, and the beautiful Orion Nebula. The Meade Polaris weighs a reasonable 10.21 Kgs (about 22.4 pounds) and is therefore portable for short & medium length star-gazing hikes.
Finally, there’s the 130-149mm range, where we find the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD Telescope. With this scope you not only get an amazing 130mm aperture size to work with, but you also enjoy a 650mm focal length and an f/5 focal ratio. This means you’ll be doing some seriously high-magnification viewing of numerous deep sky objects such as star clusters, brilliant nebulae, and distant galaxies. In fact, you’ll see them in much greater detail than with any of the sub 130mm telescopes out there. You’d almost have to go and visit these distant locations in person to enjoy better views of them! Of course, the Celestron AstroMaster’s larger size also means additional weight. This thing weighs 13.60 Kgs (just a shade under 30 pounds), so while it’s technically portable, it may not be a whole lot of fun to drag up hill on a serious astronomy hike. Additional features offered with this model include a built-in StarPointer (for easily alining your scope with interesting celestial objects), a sturdy tripod with steel tube legs, fully coated optics (for clear & detailed images), and a deluxe accessory tray, to name but a few. Like each of the telescopes in today’s overview, this model offers excellent features that make the hobby of astronomy one of the most fun, interesting, & educational pastimes a person can possibly take up.
Hopefully the information in today’s blog is helpful to you in your search for a new telescope. If you’d like to see more of Best Buy’s current Telescope selection, just click the link and take a look. You can narrow the search to specific aperture diameter ranges by selecting the size you’re interested in from a list on the left hand side of the page. And remember, when it comes to buying a telescope, you can never have too much information, so do plenty of research and good luck to you!