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The best beginner’s telescope (in my opinion)

Posted by Jonathan Milnus on



Just as there are a lot of views on how to get into astronomy, there are also a lot of opinions about the best beginner’s telescope. What you may think to be the best instrument for beginners may not be what I consider good for such levels of astronomy. That said, I believe we can both agree that bad quality department store telescopes only create more horror stories than can be imagined.

A fantastic beginner’s microscope has to have an aperture of at least 6 to 8 inches to enable the instrument to grow as you do in your astronomy skills. An 8-inch aperture can reveal an endless number of deep sky objects under dark skies while providing the best aperture for viewing clear detail on the planets. This includes even faraway Pluto that can be seen in dark skies as a faint star in an 8-inch scope.

However, I believe Celestron has figured out an ingenious way to provide more telescope for your money. That said, you should be comfortable using digital devices. Doing away with the microprocessors in Go To scopes that require dedicated software codes along with specially-designed keypads connected to the mount, Celestron introduces its exclusive Astro Fi series of telescopes that make use of your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet as a suitable telescope controller.

My Celestron telescope only required that I download the free SkyPortal app from either Google Play or the Apple App Store and that I simply needed to sync with the scope through WiFi. There was no need to access a network since the scope itself already serves as a network. The instrument works even where cellular networks are rendered useless.

The Celestron Astro Fi telescope comes without a hand controller. Neither does it have a set of manual operating knobs. I don’t even need to connect a laptop to the mount. I simply hold my phone or tablet up to the night sky, and the scope performs accurate tracking of what’s in the sky at night.

I also need just to touch a target displayed on the unit’s screen, and the scope will slew to and put that object in the sky right in the center of the sight. There’s no guesswork involved, and what’s more, information about the celestial object also gets displayed on my paired smart device. Neat huh?

Although I still have to execute a process for quick alignment, it is no bother because the entire process is exceptionally easy. I only center any brilliant deep sky object in the eyepiece. I then repeat this for two other bright objects up there, and the scope does the rest in just a few seconds. This is truly the future of astronomy, in my opinion.

Celestron bundles this delightful Astro Fi technology into a 90mm refractor, which I got, but the 130mm Newtonian reflector model will not disappoint as well. The astro Fi 90 refractor is highly useful for observing nearby planets. Those who wish to get more with catadioptric hybrids can look into the astro Fi 102 Mak-cas, which works for stars and other point sources.

The 3.5-inch Spyglass is a delight to use. I get a fair share of contrast improvement due to the lens coatings. This model is not particularly speedy as it comes with a 10;1 focal ratio, but it works fine for my needs as I have no immediate plans of getting into professional astrophotography at this time.

That, in a nutshell, is my beginner’s telescope. How about yours?