TPF Noob!
Oct 29, 2011
Reaction score
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Hey all, I'm looking into getting a telescope and was wondering if any members here own one. I want to pick your brains a bit.
I'm a beginner, but want something decent to start. I've been researching a bit on the net, trying to decide what I want, as far as reflector/refractors go.
My budget isn't that great, I can scrounge up maybe $200.oo. Any advice would be much appreciated. In the mean time, I'm still reading.
Thanks in advance.
I am not a telescope owner ... so I may be wrong:

Refractors are good if you are under poluted light conditions in the city ... otherwise I suggest a reflector type:|0&N=4223241026&srtclk=sort

Reflectors use a mirror ... refractors use lenses.
Mirror telescopes are great for deep space objects.

Celestron is the lower to mid
Meade is the mid to upper end
Two C-notes won't get you much of a scope. You'll end up with a 'kiddy' unit for that much.

Spend it on a good set of binocs instead.
You better get lots of info before you start buying a telescope. is a good place to ask some questions...
Sparky, anything in particular?

I can't recommend anything off-hand as what I have for astro gear is 7 years old, and that's ancient. So I don't know what's out there and what's good and what's not-so-good.

But I deal with these folks.
You better get lots of info before you start buying a telescope. is a good place to ask some questions...
When you get there click on community then forums. Lots of guys there will help. You can also look at their photos that they take with their scopes...

True that $200 is not going to get you very deep in the bottomless pool of astronomy and telescopes but you can get your feet wet without getting hosed. Whatever you do, stay away from the 'walmart' specials promising 250 to 400 times magnification and more for just a $150 or so. Those are pure instruments of the 'dark lord', a perfect exercise in frustration. Telescopes are not about magnification but about aperture and optics.

For the price, especially in the lower price ranges, the best options to maximize aperture and quality is to shop for a Newtonian telescopes in a Dobson mount. $200 will get you a very nice 4.5 inch little newt with a parabolic mirror from Orion. $300 will get you a very nice 6 inch Newtonian. Do not be tempted by the $100 and $200 refractors on cheap alt-azm or equatorial mounts. Remember - aperture, and not magnification, is what counts.

Orion Telescopes & Binoculars -

Sparky's suggestion of a pair of binoculars is a good one. 7X50 or so is a nice size for astronomy. Excessive magnification in binoculars is very hard to use for star gazing. Clestron Skymaster DX 8X56 are excellent examples of a quality binocular at a reasonable price. Be sure to get yourself a comfortable reclining camp chair or cot to fully enjoy star hoping with binoculars.

A guide of the night sky is a must to find your way around at first. There are many printed and smart phone examples available.


PS: I'm not talking through my hat. I have telescopes from 8 inch newts down to 3 inch achromats. A 6 inch cat for planetary, a 6 inch refractor for nebulas, a 4 inch apochromatic for doubles and planets. I really like refractors but I started with a newtonian. I have a variety of mounts from a home made dob to fully a computerized large capacity equatorial.
Last edited:
wow, thanks a ton Patrice.
I own 2 telescopes that I occasionally image with. one is a 25ish year old meade 8" newtonian reflector, the other is a newer 8" Orion Ritchey-cretien well as a refractor that I use for rich field stuff, and it doubles as a guide scope for long exposure imaging.

Patrice is right on the money...but I have one question. what are you using the scope for? is it mainly for observation? or do you want to do astrophotography with it?

the reason I ask is that if you're looking at doing astrophotography with it, then the type and quality of the mount is almost more important than the scope itself. if you want to do imaging, a dobsonian mount isn't the best route to go. look for one with a equatorial mount. for $200 you'll be pretty limited as far as astrophotography goes, other than shooting the moon....however Dobs are great for observation and they typically can save you some money too.

I've had very good luck with Orion stuff. even their low cost ones are good quality. But really, even older telescopes can provide excellent results, and can save you alot of money. try looking around local to you and see if anyone is selling one. telescope technology as far as reflectors go is a pretty simple design, personally I'd rather have a higher end scope from the 70's that has been well cared for for $200, than a new $200 scope. Swift 863R 4.5in. Newtonian Reflector Telescope: Camera & Photo

I would not go for this one myself. Inexpensive equatorial mounts are frustrating to use since they are not very stable and so take a long time to settle down when you touch them. Vixen 2604 R130Sf Telescope: Camera & Photo
Vixen make very good telescopes. I would not hesitate with this one, but you will need to find a mount for it. For visual only, this telescope would be nice on a altitude-azimuth mount. For astrophotography, an equatorial mount is more suitable but a decent one is expensive. (The mount is the more important element in astrophotography.)

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope | Orion Telescopes
For scope and mount together this is a good choice. Perfect beginner set-up for someone on a budget. It is easy to use, good quality and easy to move around. If you don't take to astronomy you'll get nearly all your money back on the second hand market.

Of the three, I would pick the Orion as a pure visual instrument and the Vixen for astrophotography (with the addition of a good motorized mount).
or this one?

That is a nice telescope, but the price does not include the mount.

The shown mount is Vixen's "Port Mount" which is very well regarded and suitable as a visual mount for quite a large and varied selection of telescopes. It alone is well beyond your $200 budget.

If you want to spend your budget on the scope you can build an altitude mount yourself if you are the least bit handy. Google 'd i y astronomy' or 'telescope pipe mount'. I made a pipe mount for 'kicks', cost less than $50 and works a charm. I use it for visual star hopping. I also built a dob mount for my 8 inch newt with 1/2 sheet of plywood and a few bit of hardware and a couple of old lp's.


Last edited:

Most reactions

New Topics