5 questions to ask yourself before buying your first telescope

Keen to stargaze for yourself, but don't know where to start? We've got advice for you: here's our top questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge...

Question 1. Where will I be using my new telescope?

If you're expecting to watch from the safety of your bedroom or attic, then you won't be so concerned about portability: but if you're planning to head for the hills and take your telescope with you wherever you go, then a travel-friendly variety is what you're looking for. Check the overall weight as well: you don't want to be lugging a heavy one around with you!

Question 2. What will I be looking at?

Hoping to watch the stars, or planning a look out to sea? Think carefully about your subject matter before you take the plunge. If you're scheming some star-watching then it doesn't matter if your view is the right way up (many tripods flip your view) or if your chosen tripod can focus at close distances. You'll only need a small aperture to look at the moon and close-up objects like other planets - but if you're hoping to peer into the depths of the galaxy, you'll need a scope with a larger aperture as well as a high magnification.

Question 3. Has my chosen telescope got a good mount?

A bad tripod or mount beneath a telescope can ruin your viewing experience: it needs to be stable enough to support your 'scope and also keep it steady while you're looking at the stars. Even the slightest nudge can disturb your star-gazing: particularly annoying if you'd just focused on something special.

Question 4. How often am I going to be stargazing?

It's often said that the best telescope is the one you actually use - so see how complicated your chosen scope is to set up and pack away - especially if you're planning on taking it out and about. The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ3 has a quick and easy four-piece set up that doesn't require any tools: making it ideal for those looking for simpler stargazing.

Question 5. Does my telescope need any extra pieces to work?

Some telescopes need additional accessories before they'll function properly - check what's been included in your box before you buy to make sure you've got everything you need to stargaze as soon as you get home. Now all you need to do is wait for nightfall...

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