What Kind of Telescope Should I Buy?

Astronomy club members share great information on which telescopes to buy. 
Above: Downeast Amateur Astronomers Club of Maine have fun and informative meetings where they often serve apple cider. Photo: Joe Rosebush

Recently, a stargazer asked us what kind of telescope to buy, and we'd like to share the answer with our readers. 

Q: My six-year-old daughter is interested in astronomy and I'm seriously thinking of buying her a telescope for Christmas. My budget is around $150. I'm totally confused about what to buy and where to start? Can you help? 

A: A telescope is a wonderful gift and this is a tough question. It's a bit like asking what kind of car you should get. Many people will tell you different things. For a beginning skywatcher, I recommend you buy a good pair of binoculars for getting to know the sky. Your daughter will be amazed at what she can see and the optics are almost always better than you'll get in a similarly priced telescope.

My top recommendation is to give an annual membership to your local astronomy club. You can learn more, borrow telescopes, and find out what kind of scope would be suitable. Joining a club is one of the best and most enjoyable ways to learn your way around the night sky.  

Good luck and clear skies!

Vivian White 
Educator, Astronomical Society of the Pacific/Night Sky Network

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