What Can You Expect to See with Your New Telescope
Perhaps the most commonly asked question among first-time buyers is what they can expect to see through their new telescopes Aperture size is the single-most important specification to look out for, although bigger does not always mean better. You’ll need something with quality optics and, if you’re a beginner, something with a built-in star finder can also help a great deal. The aperture sizes exemplified below concern Newtonian reflectors, which are by far the most popular type for beginners:
1. 2.3”to 2.8”Apertures
The smallest of reflector telescopes typically come in either the 2.3” or 2.8” variety. They tend to offer excellent portability but, despite the small aperture size,
you’ll still be able to see a great deal when using a high magnification, including numerous craters and maria on the moon that you can barely see with a naked eye. You’ll also be able to see Jupiter and its four Galilean moons as points of light and the rings of Saturn. Deep-sky objects, such as nebulae and galaxies, will not be very visible, although some may appear as fuzzy white clouds, particularly in very dark skies.
2. 5” to 6” Apertures
With a larger amateur telescope, such as the Celestron 130 SLT with its 5.1” aperture, you’ll be able to see a lot more. In good conditions, Jupiter’s clouds should reveal themselves, and you may even be able to see the Great Red Spot. Saturn, Venus and Mars will also reveal some detail, such as Mars’s polar icecaps and Saturn’s largest moon Titan. Some of the closer star clusters and nebulae will also be clearer, allowing you to distinguish many more individual stars Other objects you might be able to see include planetary nebulae and binary star systems
3. 6”to 8”Apertures
Telescopes at the higher end of this range reveal a great deal more, such as the shadows of the Galilean moons on the surface of Jupiter and individual rings around Saturn. With an appropriate filter, you’ll also be able to view sun spots in outstanding detail, star clusters and a multitude of faraway galaxies as spiral-shaped fuzzy white clouds Multiple star systems will look particularly impressive, and many closer stars will reveal their colors to the extent you may even be able to tell their sequence. Finally, the International Space Station will actually look like a space station!
With the 12” and larger telescopes, we’re getting into the territory of the largest home telescopes costing upwards of $2,000. Nonetheless, the Universe will reveal itself at an unprecedented level of detail. You’ll be able to view bands of cloud on Saturn, and nebulae such as the Bubble Nebula or Orion will reveal their colors in the form of breath-taking images. After all, there is a reason why professional astrophotographers tend to use scopes of these sizes. You’ll also get to see countless galaxies and star clusters that are all but invisible with anything else.
Most amateurs will be best of sticking with Newtonian reflectors featuring an aperture of around 5” for the Elke of price and ease of use. Nonetheless, it is important that you only take the above as rough guidelines, since the quality of the image is heavily dependent on the quality of the optics Cheap telescopes from lesser known brands are not likely to reveal anything near the level of detail mentioned above. However, with widely respected brands, such as Orion or Celestron, you should have no problem completely transforming your view of the stunning realm of space.