Tips for Buying a Telescope

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Tips for Buying a Telescope

Telescopes allow curious users to explore the outer boundaries of the universe. In addition to the two main types of telescope, refractor and reflector, there are a wide variety of features that separate each option. Some telescopes have computer controls, while others vary in magnification and aperture size. There are three main components of atelescope: the tube, theobjective, and the eyepiece. Additional components include the finder scope and the mount. Each component serves a unique purpose. Beginners should consider the various components and configurations of a scope before purchasing in order to find the best telescope for their needs.

Understand the Components of a Telescope

The setup and components of a telescope determine its functionality. In addition to an impact on the price, certain components influence the capabilities of a telescope.




Gathers light and focuses it to create an image

Usually done with the alignment of mirrors


Houses the objective and includes a spot for the eyepiece

Comes in long and short lengths


Viewpoint for the image the objective creates

Magnifies the image

Finder Scope

Mounts on the same line of sight as the main scope

Lesser magnification but larger field of view than the main telescope


Supports the position of the telescope

Allows users to aim the telescope

The configuration of the components, and the design of each, determine what type of telescope it is. Certain telescope types, or component designs and configurations, perform better than others in specific situations.

Choose a General Type of Telescope

Although there are many variations in components and functionalities, there are two main types of telescopes. A refractor telescope is typically best for close range exploration, such as planet and moon observation. However, the reflector telescope design makes it the most suitable option to view far-off stars and other deep-space objects.

Refractor Telescope

The most common telescope, and what most people think of, is a refractor telescope. It has a wide lens on one end, and a narrow lens on the other. The narrow lens serves as the eyepiece. The objective in a refractor telescope uses mirrors to bend light at different angles. To minimise the occurrence of "coma", or rainbow auras around the planets and stars, high-quality refractors include a second lens. While the dual-lens setup of a refractor telescope increases its price, it makes it the best option to view the moon and nearby planets.

Reflector Telescope

Commonly thought of as the best option for beginners, areflector tele scope includes an open front end, and a mirror on the bottom end. The bottom mirror features a curve that reflects the image toward a smaller mirror at the top of the telescope. The smaller mirror reflects the image toward the eyepiece, located at the top of the telescope. The location of the small mirror seems like it obstructs the view, but it simply dims the view a nearly unnoticeable amount.

Choose a Specific Type of Telescope

Whether it is a refractor or reflector, there are a number of variations that further specify the type of telescope. Variations include objective configurations, as well as finder scope placement.

Dobsonian Telescope

A variation of a standard reflector telescope, a Dobsonian features a lightweight mount. It is among the least expensive telescopes on the market, which makes it ideal for beginners.

Catadioptric Telescope

A catadioptric telescope is a reflector scope that features an exotic configuration of lenses and mirrors. The configuration requires a shorter tube to magnify the image. The most popular catadioptric telescopes are the Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain designs.

GoTo Telescope

Among the most technical telescopes, the GoTo features a computer motor that users control with a hand-held device. It allows users to select a specific object, and the telescope automatically brings it into view. The technical nature of the telescope makes it one of the most expensive consumer-level options.

How to Buy a Telescope on eBay

After you understand the type of telescope you want to purchase, begin to shop the marketplace at eBay. Enter all relevant keywords in the search field on any page, and narrow your selection with the navigation links available. If you are unsure about the functionality of a telescope, use the "Ask a Question" feature for clarification. In addition, be sure to check the Deals page for daily specials.

The complexity of a telescope, and the large number of variations, makes it difficult for a beginner to make a purchase decision. A clear understanding of the most important components simplifies the decision process. The diverse selection of telescopes on eBay makes it easy to find the best option.

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