The beginning astronomer is confused at first contact with the wide range of astronomical telescopes available on the market, so choosing an astronomical telescope often becomes a bewildering search and comparison between characteristics more or less relevant to their performance. This article highlights the really important characteristics of amateur astronomers when choosing a good telescope.
How Much Does a Good Telescope Cost?
You should expect to spend anywhere between $210 and $8,500 on a good telescope, depending on whether you want a professional telescope or you are starting out and only need a basic piece of equipment. The features of a good telescope will be determined by the needs of a particular user and the intended use.
When it comes to choosing the right telescope, you should know what are your specific needs. For instance, you wouldn’t need a high-end telescope for Astrophotography if you are just stepping into the field of Astronomy.
On the other hand, a beginner telescope wouldn’t be considered a good telescope by a seasoned Astronomer who wants to do some deep space exploration. So, in the following lines, we are going to talk about the costs of good telescopes for different levels: seasoned, intermediate, and beginner astronomers.
The cost of a good telescope by the type of user
Good telescope for amateurs and beginners
Plan on spending anywhere between $200 and $500 for a good telescope if you are an amateur or beginner in astronomy.
You can choose between a computerized telescope or a manual telescope which will usually be cheaper.
However, you should avoid purchasing the cheapest tool on the market. There are many products on the market that cost less than $100 and claim to be the best telescope for an amateur. But you want your telescope to be durable and usable, so you should look for the bare minimum quality.
Celestron NexStar 4SE
A good telescope for a beginner is the Celestron NexStar 4SE, which costs around $500. It gathers a good amount of light, makes your life easier thanks to its computerized setup, and offers a sharp view. This brand is one of the best-known in the industry. Celestron is known to create good telescopes with great features at a reasonable cost.
Beginners will enjoy the Sky-align system offered by Celestron. This motorized telescope will allow users to immediately track objects.
Moreover, it comes equipped with a steady tripod, providing a great solution for those who are just starting and want to have the entire package ready to use. Though, you shouldn’t expect to do some deep-sky object exploration with this telescope.
You will be able to easily travel with a Celestron NexStar 4SE telescope as this is a small device.
Even though this is a small scope, it has an aperture of 102 mm. Beginners will get a great amount of light, making it a good choice.
- Mount: Single fork arm
- Optical Design: Maksutov-Cassegrain
- Coatings: StarBright XLT
- Focal ratio:1325
- Dimensions: 32.4 in. x 27.2 in. x 13.4 in.
- Aperture: 102 mm (4.02 in.)
- Eyepiece magnification: 53x
- Weight: 30 pounds
Good telescope for intermediate astronomers
If you already started your journey in astronomy and have some practical knowledge in this field, you probably know that a good telescope for your needs costs anywhere between $500 and $1,000.
Sky-Watcher PRO-ED 100MM Doublet APO Refractor
The Sky-Watcher PRO-ED 100MM Doublet APO Refractor telescope costs around $720 and has an excellent optic quality that will get the attention of both intermediate and more advanced astronomers.
This type of telescope is the perfect choice if you want to get started with Astrophotography.
It has a focal length of 900 mm and an aperture of 100 mm, so almost any deep sky object will be observed with this tool.
Remember that this telescope is sold without a tripod or mount, so you need to also consider this cost when planning your budget. A great fit for it would be the Celestron AVX equatorial mount, which costs around $200. Also, you must buy a bahtinov mask that costs just a few dollars, if you are going to do Astrophotography.
The Sky-Watcher PRO-ED 100MM Doublet APO Refractor telescope has a lightweight and compact design, so you can take it with you while traveling.
It has an aperture of 100 mm, which is more than enough for an intermediate astronomer.
- Optical Tube Weight: 10 lbs (4.54 kg)
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Optical Tube Length: 36.22 in (920 mm)
- Aperture (mm): 100 mm (3.94 in)
- Light Gathering Power (Compared to the human eye): 204 x
- Focal Length: 900 mm (35 in)
- Resolution (Dawes): 1.16 arc seconds
- Focal Ratio: 9
- Resolution (Rayleigh): 1.39 arc seconds
- Focal Length of Eyepiece 1: 20 mm (0.79 in)
- Limiting Stellar Magnitude: 12.5
- Magnification of Eyepiece 1: 45 x
- Lowest Useful Magnification: 14 x
- Focal Length of Eyepiece 2: 5 mm (0.2 in)
- Highest Useful Magnification: 236 x
- Finderscope: 8×50 RA Viewfinder
- Magnification of Eyepiece 2: 180 x
Good telescope for seasoned astronomers
It is a little more difficult to define a price range for this category because it depends on how much money you are willing to spend. However, you should expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 and $8,500 for a professional telescope.
Celestron CPC 1100 HD Deluxe
The Celestron CPC 1100 HD Deluxe is your best choice if you want to invest in the ultimate Astronomy experience.
This telescope costs around $6,500 and offers a great mount with a dual fork and wonderful optics. Also, its computerized SkyAlign system has a database of more than 40,000 items ready to track.
Thanks to its NexStar GoTo capabilities and massive 11-inch aperture, this telescope is perfect if you are into Astrophotography.
Moreover, you will be able to control your telescope using a tablet or smartphone, thanks to its SkyQ Link 2 Wi-Fi Module.
Probably, this is the main disadvantage of this telescope. Any model that has an aperture of 11 inches or more is heavy and bulky. But it can be handled by one person even though it has a weight of 30 kg.
You will be able to gather all the light you could possibly need thanks to its Top-Notch optics with an 11” aperture.
- Optical Tube Weight 65 lbs (29.5 kg) with mount
- Optical Design EdgeHD
- Optical Tube Diameter 312.42mm (12.3″)
- Aperture 279.4mm (11″)
- Optical Tube Length 610mm (24″)
- Focal Length 2800mm (110″)
- Optical Coatings Starbright XLT
- Focal Ratio f/10
- Secondary Mirror Obstruction by Area 12%
- Focal Length of Eyepiece 1 23mm (0.91″)
- Secondary Mirror Obstruction by Diameter 34%
- Magnification of Eyepiece 1 122x
- Secondary Mirror Obstruction 95mm (3.75″)
- Finderscope 9×50
- Light Gathering Power (Compared to the human eye) 1593x
- Star Diagonal 2″ with 1.25″ adapter
- Resolution (Dawes)0.42 arc seconds
- Optical Tube Aluminum
- Resolution (Rayleigh) 0.5 arc seconds
- Highest Useful Magnification 660x
- Limiting Stellar Magnitude 14
- Lowest Useful Magnification 40x
Factors influencing the cost of a telescope
After you decided which Astronomer level you are, you have to consider some important factors such as:
As you would expect, the most expensive telescopes are the most refined ones. But if you are a beginner astronomer, you shouldn’t pay $3,000 for a telescope. You have to decide how much money you are comfortable paying for a telescope.
Ease of use
You may be tempted to buy a high-end model and this is understandable as these will do an excellent job. But you may face difficulties in learning how to properly use them.
You should choose a telescope in accordance with your skills and knowledge.
There are different telescopes on the market, for different needs. For instance, some telescopes were made to see the details of closer objects, while others are suited for deeper space exploration. You should decide if you need the telescope to do some Astrophotography or if you just want to do some galaxy exploration.
Some devices are recommended for various jobs, but the best scenario is to get a telescope for your specific use.
Probably, portability is the most important factor to consider when purchasing a telescope. If you are planning to use your telescope while traveling, there is no use in purchasing one with a 14-inch aperture.
How much does a really good telescope cost?
The cost of a good telescope will depend on the user’s needs. The price for a high-powered telescope would start at around $1,500 and go up to more than $7,000.
Is purchasing a telescope worth it?
If you are planning to get into Astronomy, a telescope is a fundamental tool, so it is worth the investment.
What is considered a good telescope?
The best telescope is the one that fits your needs and is made by a reputable brand, such as Explore Scientific, Celestron, Sky-Watcher, Meade, or Orion.
What is the best telescope for home use?
There are many telescopes that are intended for home use. Our recommendation would be the Celestron NexStar 4SE.
You must know that top astronomical telescopes can be for amateurs and beginners, intermediate and seasoned, or professional astronomers. As a recommendation, if you are just starting with astronomy, you can choose a telescope for beginners. As for the technology behind it, the telescope can be automatic, computerized, digital, and electronic. A high-performance telescope can also be equipped with a video camera for images.