The Space Tweep Society Blog has an overview post up about the pros and cons of the four main types of telescopes, if you’re in the market! [Thanks, Rachel!]

(Image: E550 with telescope finder, a Creative Commons Attribution image from R1CARD0’s photostream)

In the Maker Shed:


The Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders

Our Price: $29.99

Amateur astronomy is now within the reach of anyone, and this is the ideal book to get you started. The Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders offers you a guide to the equipment you need, and shows you how and where to find hundreds of spectacular objects in the deep sky — double and multiple stars as well as spectacular star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern ( is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).

  • Colin

    One of the most common suggestions is to avoid buying telescopes advertised by their magnification power — coupled with a low price, it’s a sure bet that those are not worth the plastic they are made of.

    However, take note: some of the toy-telescope makers are wise to this and starting to advertise focal lengths and eyepieces instead. Like many things, if you want something usable, let alone good, expect to pay good money for it, and find a reputable dealer. If it’s your first time out, consider buying a half-decent pair of binoculars first with a tripod mount.

  • Anonymous
  • CameronSS

    If you’re looking for an inexpensive telescope for the kids to use, I’d suggest a Galileoscope. For $20 you get a plastic-bodied 50mm f/10 refractor that attaches to a standard tripod mount (1/4″-20 socket). Despite the fantastically low price, this is a real, quality telescope, not those tubes with beer bottles in each end that they sell as “ZOMG 200X SUPER SPACE SCOPE” at Wally World. It uses high-quality achromatic lenses-the important bit-and is a great educational experience.

    I own a 130mm Newtonian on a massive, clunky EQ-3 equatorial mount-the whole rig weighs at least 50 pounds, and is a pain in the neck to wrestle through the back door and down the steps to the back yard. I bought a Galileoscope this last summer, thinking it would make a good secondary telescope to take on trips or loan to trustworthy kids. As it turns out, it delivers better planetary views than my big clunker. The smaller aperture lets in enough light without being blinding, and the quality lenses have less color blurring than my less-than-perfectly-collimated reflector.

    Sorry for the big long post, just want to make it clear that this is actually a customer’s endorsement, not spam for a crappy ‘scope.

    Oh yeah, you can also donate one for $15, and they’ll send it to someone who needs it…a missionary school in Southeast Asia, a homeschool in Iowa, wherever. Cool program.