Astronomy / Space Recommend 1st telescope?

I have around £150 pounds as a budget and this would be my 1st buy, if there are any people who have good advice on a starter (very basic!) telescope and intro book I would appreciate any advice. I have of course looked online but the volume of available gear and books makes it very difficult to choose.

I am just going to be lugging the scope over to a field in the middle of the city, so something I can put in a sports bag would be useful.

Any help would be cool, thx!
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You wont get a reasonable telescope for that price. You could get a descent pair of binoculars and a tripod though.
I would suggest trying to find a 6" Dobsonian. The most important thing about any telescope is it has to be a telescope you will use. What I mean by that is that if you get one on a wonky stand or one that is too hard to setup. You will use it a few times and never again.
Dobsonians are good all rounders and take seconds to deploy which is really important. However anything that cheap unfortunately would be such poor quality it would put you off for life.
Best thing is to find a local astronomy club and simply go there on one of there meeting nights and look through the various scopes and get real advice.
BTW the gear I used cost me a little more than 150 and the deep space stuff was hours long exposures with super cooled camera. Solar is very different but requires a special solar telescope.
Normally you wont see any nebs except a few without long exposures, mostly stars and planets. Jupiter, Saturn and moon look nice though good binocs (but will appear small)
Bill D
Thx for quick answer! saw this and thought WOW!

OK so I need to save a about £300

I was shown this in one shop

But would you say that it is a false economy for the quality you get?

I travel allot for work so not many chances to get out and meet clubs etc. This would be more of a chance whenever I get time or there is a full moon and clear sky to get out and have a look + would be great if I could put in hand luggage and take with me when I travel!
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I got one of these a few years back and its perfect for me.

Its a 5" Dobsonian.

It extends, so when you are not using it, you can just pick it up by the handle and carry it around, because of its size it it also quite portable, I have taken mine to Scotland, Cornwall, anywhere I go if Im in the car I always put it in the boot.

For the money, it is a very good scope.

It comes, like any Skywatcher with three half decent eyepieces, but you can of course buy more, I have loads now! :)

Ive seen lots of stuff with it , Jupiter, Saturn, some messier objects, even saw the Comet panstarrs :), moon viewing is awesome...

Being a 5" of course it will struggle with seeing anything to high Magnitude, but in a dark enough site I think you would be happy.

One thing you will not be able to do with it is Astrophotography, but if you want to go down that route you would need to spend a whole load more money anyway.

I would recommend reading the Stargazerslounge forums , loads of good info on there! -

Good seeing is essential with any scope though, the darker the site the better.

I did take a pic of Saturn, but I had to hold my Samsung up to the eyepiece, so my hands were shaking all over the shop, managed to get something though...

Bookwise, there is one called 'Turn left at Orion' ,, this is very popular.

Personally, I just bought a three year star chart book - - something similar to this , I will give you the start charts as well as telling you what to look out for at certain times of that particular year.
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Hi Voodoo, I agree with BiLD; stretch for the 150 if you can. The 130 would be great for moon watching but limited beyond that.

I have an older version of this ...

I've used it for viewing Nebula, Galaxies and star clusters. I've put a modded web cam on it and got pictures of Saturn with the rings separated in to two bands... everything you want out of a first scope. If you go too small to start you stand a good chance of being disheartened and resigning the scope to the cupboard.

Don't use mine as often as I'd like; moved to house surrounded by woods, picturesque but can't see a lot of sky! But one thing I can guarantee, what ever you get, if you enjoy it you will want bigger!


Moon 11-01-11.jpg


And 'Turn left at Orion' is a great book like Riedquat says. (And that's more than I thought you'd get from a 130 Riedquat, nice).
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150P is a very nice scope indeed, but not too portable.

of course, for portability, you are going to have to sacrifice size a little.
I used to go along to a group with the 150 and didn't find it too bad just had to separate scope and mount for transport.
But yes, it is the limit of what I would class as portable.
Wow wicked pictures, I love the Saturn images and that would be wild to see 'live' if you will.

Thank you both for input, seem that waiting and saving is better and like you say better when I have time to put in the car and see if there are any good spots a short drive out of the city and away from the light pol
Your welcome, just a final suggestion;

Recommend seeing if you have a local group, they usually have viewing evenings to which you can just turn up, have a chat and take a look at what you could spend money on.

The Saturn image is produced by putting a webcam in place of eyepiece then capturing a couple of minutes of video. I then use a piece of software that aligns each frame and then stacks then to produce a pseudo long time exposure.
It's the best way of capturing decent images without going down the very expensive route!
I did similar with the moon but given it's already very bright, I only captured a few seconds of video. The final picture is a montage of around 10 separate images.
I've always considered investing in telescopes, but considering my list of interest as is...I think I better leave it for now!
I could always nip 10min down the road to Jodrell Bank, I'm sure they won't mind if I borrow theirs!
The best advise I ever give to a beginner is not to read reviews or take advice online. It's odd advice from me since I run an astronomy forum, but nothing can beat a look through a real scope. Find a local club and go visit them. Most astronomy clubs are only too eager to take on beginners, you are after all the 'next generation' of astronomers.

My club regularly takes beginners on and there's not a single member who would turn away an enthusiastic novice. :)
I have around £150 pounds as a budget and this would be my 1st buy, if there are any people who have good advice on a starter (very basic!) telescope and intro book I would appreciate any advice. I have of course looked online but the volume of available gear and books makes it very difficult to choose.

I am just going to be lugging the scope over to a field in the middle of the city, so something I can put in a sports bag would be useful.

Any help would be cool, thx!
I have been involved in amateur astronomy since about 1985,(almost as long as I have been PC gaming). Fair warning, I am in the US not the UK. Here in the US, people make the mistake of going to Walmart or Costco, stores like that and buying telescopes. VERY BAD idea the scopes you buy in shops like that are toys and not good serious instruments. I know your budget is small, but if you buy that kind of junk you will have a very poor experience and you won't enjoy yourself. Another thing to watch out for is claims of great magnifications. 800x or 1200x etc. Magnification is very secondary. Most amateur scopes come with a good 25x and 10x eyepiece which is plenty. The most important thing is the diameter of the scope. Small scopes are 3-5 inches in diameter. Medium scopes are 6-8 inches, and large scopes are 10 inches and larger. Lets talk about the budget. 150 pounds is not very much. You would much better if you could manage 250. But lets work with what you have. I Europe, Skywatcher scopes are quite popular. They are good instruments and come in all price ranges. For around 150 pounds you should be able to get a table-top Newtonian scope. As it happens, I read The Sky at Night magazine because I prefer it to the American astronomy magazines, even if I have to pay a premium to get it here. They always have a big add for Skywatcher on the back. The other scopes I would recommend are those made by Orion. They come from the US, but I have seen them advertised in the UK. They also make three or four starter scopes in your price range. Again, these are table-top scopes. For the record, a table-top scope is one that has a mount that is meant to be placed on a table. They are what is know as Altitude-Azimuth scopes or Alt-AZ. At your stage that is fine. You don't want the complexity of German Equatorial mount. Some of the table-top scopes can be attached to the top of a photo tripod. However, this can be somewhat shaky. Vibration is your enemy. Better to have a scope on a sturdy table where there is little vibration, than on a shaky tripod that will spoil your view.

Try the Cloudy-Nights website and go and see Astronomyshed on YouTube. You can pick up a lot of info from both. Books? You're in the UK so you must be familiar with the late Sir Patrick Moore. There are a number of books on Astronomy under his name. He didn't write them all but he sponsors the authors.

There are also three good books for beginners that I know of. "The Backyard Astronomers Guide", "Turn Left at Orion", and "Nightwatch". Any one of these will be what you are looking for.

You can look up these books and the Moore books on Amazon.

PM me if you have more questions. Hope this helps. Cheers! :D
I have around £150 pounds as a budget and this would be my 1st buy, if there are any people who have good advice on a starter (very basic!) telescope and intro book I would appreciate any advice. I have of course looked online but the volume of available gear and books makes it very difficult to choose.

I am just going to be lugging the scope over to a field in the middle of the city, so something I can put in a sports bag would be useful.

Any help would be cool, thx!
I am sure somebody else might have suggested this but I would suggest contacting a local astronomy group, go to their meetings they will help with advice & even let you have a look through their scopes. Astronomers may be a strange bunch up at night looking at clouds hoping for a gap in them but they are always helpful to anybody looking to start.

If you were ever in my neck of the woods Burton on Trent, Staffs your are welcome to visit I have a 12 Dob that does wonders even in my light polluted back garden.
My niece recently became interested in astronomy so I got her a Heritage 114p Virtuoso, It was a little more than your budget (about £175) but I can't fault it for a beginners scope.
Given your limited budget I would suggest starting off with a pair of astronomical Binoculars rather than a telescope; coupled with a decent tripod this will enable you to see far more than you might otherwise see with a cheap telescope.

Please do not dismiss astronomical binoculars out of hand, they are serious equipment, offering a wide bright field of view, and perfect for someone who is starting with the hobby. They are perfectly capable of enabling you to see other planets, various type of nebulae and other types of phenomena such as comets or resolving Binary pairs etc. Indeed, some stellar objects stretch over such a wide field of view the only way to see them in their entirety is through binoculars, as most telescopes cover far too narrow a field of view.

While I own a number of telescope including the Meade LX600-ACF 14, and a Meade 130mm 6000 ED refracting telescope, I never go out without Binoculars.

If you feel you must have a telescope, you would be better served waiting until you can afford something more substantial. Avoid cheaper telescopes with smaller eyepieces, 0.965" are little more than toys, you want 1.25" at a minimum, ideally a telescope that supports 2" eyepieces is better although more expensive. Further, you also need a small selection of eye pieces with different fields of view as they are as important as the telescope itself, and the type of eyepiece depends on the type of objects you are interested in viewing.

Ignore adverts for telescopes telling you their product offers 200X ,300X+ magnification, this type of magnification is possible with all telescope, and this figure is of little practical value when trying to evaluate the quality of a given telescope. Far more important is the resolving power (sometimes given as angular separation) as this determines the smallest detail you will be able to resolve clearly. Next you need to consider the aperture, this is the front of the telescope and responsible for gathering light from stellar objects, this determines how faint an object you can resolve. If using a reflecting type or catadioptric, do not accept anything less than 4", but 6" will be far better; if you opt for a refracting scope 3" is a good starting point.

The bottom line is, do your home work first, it will pay off in the long run, examine a few astronomy sites, all have basic guides to telescopes and their features; understand what it is that most interests you and purchase a telescope suited to that type of observation. You should also be aware that if you purchase a telescope that uses mirrors such as the dobsonian or other reflecting types you will need to have the mirrors re coated yearly or bi yearly to maintain image quality and light resolving power.

While the cost of telescopes may seem daunting, you are hopefully purchasing a piece of equipment that will last you years, if not a lifetime.
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As others have said, £150 won't get you a telescope you'll be able to find acceptable.

You haven't said what in the night sky you're most interested in seeing.

A pair of good 10x50 binoculars will allow you to see the larger things, such as star clusters, the Moon and to some degree Jupiter with the Galilean moons and Saturn. You'll probably need to add an up-ended broom as a stable mounting stand too.

A small 'scope will give you a better view of the major planets.

May I suggest that you subscribe to the Stargazer's Lounge ( ) and ask on there. It's UK based and very friendly.
Thx to all for input, sorry RL got on in the way so travelling again but will put all your suggestions into action on return!

Your are all Stars! (actually favorite album 'Rock, Dust, Light, Star!'
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