Equipment Tips

The only instrument that most beginners need is their eyes. Our eyes can detect subtle variations in brightness, determine the colors and relative temperatures of stars, and track the motions of the Moon and planets.

Do I need binoculars or a telescope for stargazing?

Beyond your own two eyes, the next best piece of equipment for the star hunter is a good pair of binoculars. They are inexpensive, highly portable, and strike a wonderful balance between magnification and light-gathering power; the wide view provided by a pair of binoculars also counters the inevitable confusion of finding a target in a crowded starfield.

Telescopes inevitably enter the minds of stargazers, and there are many fine models available for the casual observer that balance power, portability, and price. Most of the major telescope manufacturers publish free guides to their products, providing the basic information critical to making a wise purchase. Potential buyers should consider the conditions available at their stargazing site, however; even the best telescopes are wasted on sites with light pollution or other poor seeing effects.

Dealers/Manufacturers

Meade Instruments Corp.

Orion Telescope and Binocular Center

Celestron International

Edmund Scientific

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