Although novice amateur astronomers cannot be faulted for their enthusiasm, purchasing a telescope should never be done on impulse. Before purchasing, amateur astronomers should determine what they want to do with their telescope, what size they can manage, and the price they are able to afford.
Telescopes fall into two basic groups: refracting and reflecting. Refracting telescopes feature a lens on the front end, known as an objective. The objective forms the images, which are then viewed through an eyepiece. Reflecting telescopes are constructed with a curved mirror, which is mounted at the bottom. The eyepiece then picks up the reflected image.
Experienced amateur astronomers tend to maintain strong opinions regarding their preferred type of telescope. Attending an official star party will provide novice astronomers with an opportunity to sample both types of telescopes and to seek their advice. Star parties often include a vendors’ area, where people can and compare different telescopes and accessories.
About the Author: By day, Stephen Shellman serves as a senior researcher of political conflict and terrorism. By night, he is an avid amateur astronomer. View his website at www.atticbluffsobservatory.com.