My buddy Jon needs a cool telescope. Also on my list. The new ones are so wonderful because they don’t need as Ed Ting says at

  • If you are just starting out and aren’t sure if you are serious then a good pair of binoculars. 10x50s. This means 10x magnification and 50mm wide lense. Cheap binoculars are much better than a cheap telescope and last a lifetime. Some recommendations are the Celestron Pro, Ultima and Orion Vista, Ultraview, Scenix, most Celestron models, Pro Optic from Adorama, Olympus, Bauch & Lomb, Pentax. Spend is $75-200
  • The more light a telescope gathers the more powerful it is. So a 7×50 gathers twice the light of a 7×35 because light gathering goes up as the square of the width. Another way to put it is that a 12″ wide telescope has 44% more light gathering than a 10″.
  • For beginners a 4.5″ or 6″ reflector (light goes in and then is bounced on a mirror back to the top) at $300-650 is relatively portable and easy to move. Or get a 80mm refractor (that means the traditional light goes in the front and comes out the back 🙂 Don’t buy a telescope from a department store, toy store or TV commercial. Good quality costs at least $300. If you have the money, get the really compact Schmidt-Cassegrain which look like reflectors but are super compact but the decent ones cost $1-3,000.
  • Computer controlled is also great in that the computer directs the telescope, but you have to spend at least $1000 for a good one.

So when all is said and done, what to get, a 6″ or 8″ Dobsonian reflector. The Orion XT8 is $329, but is huge and I mean huge. So more practical are the 6″ Dobsonians from quality vendors like Orion (he likes them best), Meade, Celestron or Discovery. Other things to look for 6×30 finder, Plossl eyepieces and Pyrex mirrors. The XT6i at $400 looks like a pretty good choice. Big and it has a star finder. I’m sure it is hard as heck for a Dad to figure out, but what the heck 🙂

You can get it from Anacortes Telescopes ( or from Adorama

Overall, his recommendations in the Category 3 $250-1500 range include most Celestrons, Orion XT  and Sky View and Sky View Pro, Meade 4500, Discovery

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I’m Rich & Co.

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