So what are the best telescopes?
The best telescopes are not necessarily the biggest and best optics, nor those with the best technological capabilities. The best telescopes are the telescopes always being used!
And I’m not talking about the cheap-o-scopes/ glorified toys that deserve to get abandoned, I’m talking about good telescopes that users at any level would enjoy using.
I’ve connected with many people who have less capable setups than my own, but still regularly enjoy viewing celestial sights. At the same time, I’ve connected with people who own much more capable and expensive setups than my own, and yet they NEVER use them!
It’s a major pet peeve of dedicated observers like myself when I know a telescope that belongs to a friend/family member/acquaintance/etc. is collecting dust because the owner never makes the time.
“Oh but I’m always too tired/ busy!” “I got work/school!” “I have other activities that I need to do and don’t have any time!” Let’s not forget the classic, “Oh my kids lost interest and I kind of did too.” Of course, the older I get, the more empathetic I am to, “I’m too tired at night after work to set it up!”
I get it! Obviously your job, schooling, health, family, is more important and some interests/hobbies have to take a back seat on the priority list. I would never tell people to alter their lives drastically to make the time. But if you really enjoy it, then it’s all the more important you find a way back into it.
“Oh but I don’t know how to use it and I feel lost!” Just like any activity, telescopes are a “learn as you do” activity! Whether it’s a fully manual scope or a computerized setup, once you do it enough times, then it becomes second nature. Truth be told, a lot of what I have done is self taught!
And if it’s a matter of not knowing how to set it up or learn the proper alignment procedures, then there’s a lot of resources available, including people you may know, that will help you on your way!
You don’t have to set up as often as I do – like only crazy dedicated observers like me set up each night a rare naked eye level comet is visible in the sky… and even that gets tiring!
How often then? Ultimately I’d say once a month is adequate enough… Even every couple of months is okay…. but if you have have had many opportunities to set it up over an entire season and never do so, then something is wrong!
Once more, I understand that life happens. Burnout happens. The scope will be there to help you pick up where you left off when you make the time!
“Oh but I’ve seen the moon and planets plenty of times!”
Then why don’t you try to look for other things?!
There’s 110 Messier objects, up to 109 Caldwell objects, dozens of bright stars and double stars, plus plenty more NGC objects that you can check out!
Oh, and there’s lunar features like craters and mountain ranges that are only visible during certain phases (especially during crescent or quarter phases), so if you only view the Moon through your scope while it’s full (when there’s the least amount of craters visible), then there’s a ton of features you’re missing out on!
Wait… you don’t know what objects are worth checking out? Nothing is stopping you from asking around, looking up online, or consulting a stargazing app on your phone!
“But there isn’t much else to see because I live in the city.” If your telescope is portable enough and can fit in your car, then take it out to a darker location! Seriously, what’s the point of having one if you’re never going to see what the scope can do under a good sky?!
I always try to drive to my usual dark spots in the desert around every new moon and experience the deep sky. Even with a busy work schedule, there’s always a day within that 7-10 day window (between waning and waxing crescent) that I can make work!
You’ll be amazed by how much more you can see! Even if being under a true night sky is a rare treat nowadays, it’s a trip I’m always looking forward to, and something that “deep sky converts” always ask when the next outing is.
So Seriously… is that all that’s stopping you?!
- It’s NEVER too late to start! My first telescope is a pure example of a scope that never got used to its fullest until 10 years after it was acquired as a joint Christmas gift for my sister and I. Just because you may be past the schooling age doesn’t mean you’re dead and unable to learn new things!
- You don’t need to have crazy knowledge nor years worth of experience! You have to start somewhere, and even just the tiniest grasp can be achieved after a couple uses!
- There is ALWAYS someone willing to help you! It can be someone you know in person, met online, at a star party or observatory. Telescope users are not part of an exclusive club or secret society – we are not hiding anything. People like us want to help you and get you going in the right direction!
If you never use the telescope you have because you feel inadequate at it, and genuinely need help, then don’t continuously put off people that are always offering to help! Eventually, they’re gonna stop offering and stop personally inviting you to events because you keep ghosting…
Don’t be that person who buys a telescope and camera hoping to learn how to image planets, but for months onward doesn’t take the time to try using and learning, and constantly puts off any offered help.. only for them to show up to a telescope party and expect the host to teach them how to image planets when they can’t even set the scope up nor point it at anything…
Don’t be that person who buys a house with a homemade observatory equipped with a good quality permanent telescope, but never bothers to look up the instruction manual, and ghosts people that offer any type of help because they’re “too busy.”
Yes, you may have a finite amount of time on this planet. Yes, it’s tough to get into enjoying an activity when you’re too swamped with other day to day activities that are more important at the moment.
But the only thing preventing you from setting it up on a consistent basis, even if it’s once in a while, is the person reading this very sentence… If you really want to make the time, then make the time! It’s not that hard!
If you know you have that scope laying around collecting dust, then next chance you get, set it up outside and check out the Moon, or check out whatever bight objects are out!
You’ll be happy you did!
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