Frequently Asked Questions
We handle close to 200 calls each day. As you can imagine, the questions you have might be asked by several other people as well. So we have put together the below information for commonly/ frequently asked questions for your benefit. It also saves us time :)
Which is the BEST telescope?
Keep in mind the below points:
There is no THE BEST scope that you can buy. Just go with what fits into your budget, gives you the best value, and is easy to use for you.
Also, there are commercially manufactured telescopes (they are real telescopes but materials used are of low quality/ substandard so it can be sold for a profit) and scientifically manufactured scopes (more expensive but the parts, optics, etc are manufactured with precision and specifically for use in astronomy). Needless to say, if you are serious about astronomy go for the scientifically manufactured ones and avoid the commercially manufactured ones.
Also know that if your interest in astronomy grows in future, you will want to upgrade no matter how good a scope you currently own, because there is only so much any scope can do.
Astronomers typically have a collection/ range of different telescopes, each suited to a particular scenario/ use case/ requirement. No one single telescope can serve all your needs.
When you buy a second telescope, your first one doesn't automatically become useless. You may still use one in certain situations and the other in different situations
Very advanced telescopes are not easy to operate for beginners who have no knowledge of telescopes. Buying an expensive telescope doesn't mean you will be able to operate it. Its always best to start with a telescope that will be easy to learn ("easy" is relative; in the field of telescopes do expect some learning curve for ANY telescope). If the equipment is too complicated to use, it will just sit in the closet and will be useless. There is a saying in astronomy, "The best telescope is the one you will use"
Which is the BEST Binocular?
Same answer as for telescope +
It depends a lot on your usage purpose - for birdwatching different binoculars might be better whereas for astronomy different binocs would be better suited. For more details check: Choosing the right Binoculars
It depends on the features you need (water proof/ fog proof/ nitrogen filled/ dielectric coatings/ phase corrections/ etc). For mode details refer: Choosing the right Binoculars
What distance can the telescope/ binocular cover?
There is no concept of distance range in binoculars/ telescopes. Depending on the magnification the equipment provides, it will bring an object that much closer, regardless of the distance (as long as you have line of sight). for instance, a magnification of 10x will bring the target 10 times closer (90% distance will be reduced) . Keep in mind that magnification isn't the only specification to consider while buying binoculars/ telescopes. For more details, refer the magnification sections here and here
I'm a first time telescope user and I want to do astrophotography. What telescope should I buy?
Astronomy is a vast field. Its a science. You will have to start with the basics and grow organically, there are no shortcuts. You will need to first start with basics of telescope (how to operate telescopes, what kind of telescopes are there, how do they work), basics of astronomy (what kind of objects are there in the sky, how to identify/ locate/ search for objects, how to find them in a telescope, how to navigate in the sky, etc), For this, you will have to start with simple visual observation and resist the temptation of astrophotography initially. Once you are familiar with operating a telescope and know your way around the skies, you can start simple photography using a smartphone and then gradually move to try out astrophotography with a DSLR / Astronomy Camera. Granted, knowing your end goal is important in deciding what telescope to buy, but some of the telescopes suitable for astrophotography are not easy for beginning astronomers to operate and have a higher learning curve, so its best to start with a basic telescope and buy a second one later on when you're ready for astrophotography (An alternative is to buy an intermediate model that is simple enough for beginners to learn and at the same time of high quality and compatible with external accessories for future astrophotography)
I want a telescope which is travel friendly
Telescopes are not meant for frequent travel, especially by flight (except in exceptional circumstances like house-shifting etc). Due to size of telescopes, they can't be carried in your hand-baggage / cabin bag, and they also don't fit into your checked-in luggage bags/ suitcases (unless its a short tube refractor/ table top telescope). They need to be checked-in separately, which means you might incur additional baggage fees/ special handling fee/ etc (this rule varies from airline to airline). You may also need to pack it very well, to avoid damage in handling of checked-baggage.
However, when it comes to travel, Telescopes can easily be carried in your car to nearby sites and locations for a weekend getaway/ astronomy sessions.
Think of telescopes like your TV - when you fly, you would leave your TV at home, and wouldn't carry it with you.
Having said above, if you'd still want to carry it along on the flight, please check the rules of your respective airline before you travel.
Which is better - Refractor or Reflector?
Both are equally good. They are just 2 different types and use different principles of science in operation. Refractors have glass lenses and transmit and focus light through refraction, whereas Reflectors have mirrors and transmit light by reflections. Refractors are more expensive to manufacture, so typically in a given price range you can get better specifications in a reflector than a refractor. In other words, a refractor or certain specifications would cost more than a reflector or comparable specifications. However, apart from this generalization the quality of materials used in making them, brand, model, etc also plays a role. For more details please check: