Saturday 23 January 2021

How did I choose my first telescope

This post is about my first telescope and specifically would like to share how did I choose the first telescope and what factors played a role in deciding a specific model or type.


This post should not be considered as a guide to buy a telescope. The intention of this post is only to share the process I followed in choosing a telescope. This is to give an idea on factors to be considered while buying a telescope.


I started my sky observation more than a decade ago. My initial observation was with naked eye. However later I bought Olympus 10x50 binocular and used it for Visual Observation (VO) for many years. This helped me in understanding the sky better as well as getting the knowledge on constellations, stars and star hopping - basically navigating the sky. Once I was sure that I can upgrade my tools, I decided to buy a telescope.

Buying Process

With all the information gathered from the experts, what I realized was there are four primary factors which helps in buying the right scope. And there is no "one" scope which ticks all the boxes.

1. Why do you want to buy a scope? - This is the fundamental question I asked myself. Why? There are two primary applications for a scope - one for VO, and the other for Astro-photography (AP). Remember, there is no single scope which meets all the needs 100%. My primary needs was Visual Observation, and AP was definitely not in the near future. With that clarity in mind, I looked at the scopes which are meant for VO - specifically Newtonian reflectors. Dobs are very popular beginner telescopes because of its easy-to-use design. So I was inclined towards Dobs.

2. Which mount? My other goal is to show the celestial objects to others. With this specific objective, I decided to go for a go-to mount. That means, once I align the scope, it will track the objects on its own. This would definitely help while I'm showing the objects to others. I don't have to realign the scope frequently. Luckily, Dobs also come with go-to mount. That was an icing on cake!

3. Portability - How often do I carry the scope for observation? How far I would need to carry? How difficult it would be to carry? These are some of the questions I had to answer myself. At home, If I need to carry the scope to the terrace I need to take steps for one floor. The scope and the mount will need to be carried wherever I go for observation. The length of the tube should fit in a car. I should be able to carry the weight of the scope without any help. These factors prompted me to go for 8 inch scope. The next version is 10 inch, whose weight is much more than 8". It would have been difficult for me to carry 10" all alone regularly.

4. Budget - The last but an important factor is budget. You will get a decent scope from Rupees 30K+ and it can go upwards in Lakhs. The budget along with portability should be factored in to decide on the scope. From the budget wise, I could have gone for bigger scope, but portability factor limited my requirement to 8".

So finally, I decided to buy an 8" Dobsonian telescope with Go-to mount and I zeroed in on Orion SkyQuest XT8g Computerized GoTo Dobsonian Telescope.

The next question was from where to buy? A popular telescope dealer in India is Tejraj from Mumbai. One of the conditions in Tejraj's website stated they will not take responsibility if a telescope gets damaged during the transportation. This clause discouraged me in going with Tejraj. I would have driven to Mumbai to get the scope delivery in person. But Covid situation dampened that idea as well. I got to know about another dealer Go Scientific from Madurai. I got positive reviews about this dealer. When I spoke to the dealer he explained how the scope will be packaged and transported and he assured that it will be delivered with utmost care. That confidence along with reviews from others encouraged me to book the scope with Go Scientific. True to his words, the tube and the mount were packed in a separate wooden boxes. Inside each box, several layers of cartons were packed to ensure the equipments are not damaged. Go Scientific had arranged a dedicated vehicle for delivery of the scopes to Bengaluru. This also ensured that there is no mishandling of the scopes by the delivery people. Overall it was very satisfactory when it comes to buying and delivery experience.

Packed with wooden boxes


The folks in Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS) helped me in understanding all about telescope. I would like to thank BAS for all the wonderful things they are doing to spread Astronomy to the public. I'm also proud to be associated with the BAS.

I would also like to call out names who provided me a lot of inputs on telescopes. The names listed here is in the order of my communication with the individual.

Naveen - I met him in one of the star parties. He patiently explained different types of scopes and pros and cons of each. That session opened up my knowledge into the world of scopes. Later, I spoke to Naveen several times with so many questions and he responded each patiently.
Niranjan - He owns 8 inch Dob and he showed me how Dob works and of course the power of 8". I saw Saturn rings for the first time from his scope. Later when I had many queries about Dob, he patiently answered and clarified my doubts.
Vishwa - I met Vishwa in a star party and continued the association in outreach events. He explained about different scopes especially about SCT and also clarified my several doubts on mounts.
Shubankar - In one of the star parties, Shubankar explained several aspects of Astrophotography (AP) and what type of scopes and mounts are suitable for AP. He also clarified a lot of doubts on the scopes and its applications.
Anish - Anish's YouTube video on buying a telescope is an awesome primer. He provided a lot of inputs on scopes for AP as well as Visual Observation (VO). The video is available in BAS YouTube Channel.
Komal - Komal provided his inputs on goto Dob and also helped me by providing information about other accessories required for the scope.
Keerthi - When I was frustrated for not getting the correct connector for power supply, Keerthi graciously invited me to his home and helped in connecting the power supply and also showed me on initial setup of the scope as well as on the alignment part.
Sudhash - I must not miss out Sudhash's name because he was always encouraging me in the entire process. His enthusiasm was always a motivating factor to make up my mind on the scope!

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