Getting a telescope

Here are some rules of thumb to help you decide what telescope to get:

  • The amount of light gathering capability (aperture, measured in inches or millimeters) determines most of a telescope‚Äôs performance. For visual astronomy it is often recommended to get the largest aperture you are willing to carry around, store and pay for.
  • Computers to help you point the telescope are handy but also require you to learn more about how to operate the telescope. Often it can be a good choice to invest in optics instead of computerization.
  • Unfortunately, most telescopes from big box stores have poor optical quality and should be avoided. Colourful boxes boasting high magnifications usually indicate a less than mediocre telescope.
  • Before buying a telescope, come to a star party and look through different telescopes. We love to show the universe. Looking through telescopes at night will give you a good idea how different telescopes work and perform.  The RASC organizes star parties almost every week.
  • Test-drive a telescope. If you are a RASC member, you can borrow telescopes at no additional fees.

Here are some internet resources to get started with finding the right telescope:

Making your own telescope is also an option. With some time and dedication, amazing instruments can be built. Our telescope making members are happy to help you start making a telescope.