How I chose my telescope

 

 

Now is as great time as any to shop for a telescope. I myself took advantage of the way manufacturers of quality telescopes have tried to outdo each other with their various products. The buying process was both fun and challenging, but I did my homework sufficiently to know I got a top-of-the-line instrument and nothing less.

It has become an exciting time for novice astronomers because of the many choices of telescopes and accessories. However, to ensure I was getting a device that would fit my needs, I first needed to determine what was important to me.

This meant knowing how dark the skies could become at night where I live, or what celestial objects I would be predominantly observing up close. Since I am not yet an expert, I also took that under consideration, so I wouldn’t be getting an overly complicated tool that would probably only end up in the closet than on the lawn.

I wanted something light but not overly so to prevent the instrument from toppling over with the slightest accidental bump. After I had gotten familiar with what the market had to offer, the buying process became somewhat easier.

 

I had read that a telescope’s aperture is its most vital specification. The aperture denotes the diameter of the scope’s primary optical element, which can be a mirror or a lens. The dimension of this element is an indication of the instrument’s ability to collect light for viewing a faraway object.

The resolving power of the scope depends on the aperture too. I decided early in the day that it was critical to know as much as possible about the aperture of a scope if I was to optimize night sky viewing. A bigger aperture is always better than a small one. A 3-inch scope may not be able to let me distinguish the craters of the Moon in a manner that a 6-inch scope can.

Of course, this is under the same conditions and using identical magnification. With the surface area of a 6-inch scope being four times larger than that of a scope that is half smaller, the bigger aperture scope is more capable of gathering four times as much light to make the galaxy look four times more brilliant, or 1.5 magnitudes brighter.

I knew beforehand I should not be fooled by the seemingly stupendous magnification of some devices on the market. Magnification varies according to the eyepiece I use on the eye end of the scope, so that element is not constant, to say the least especially if you are looking to buy the best telescope for a beginner.

Of course, there was also a need to factor in aperture as well as the conditions of the atmosphere when assessing the magnification. What was more important was to know how much detail is delivered by the lens or mirror of the scope to enable me to find the optimal magnification to support the viewing of that much detail. This is without scattering the target’s available light.

This is something I didn’t need because it would render the object too dim to see or too blurry. To enable me to look at nebulae, galaxies and other faint objects, I should use low power objectives. Medium-high power objectives are ideal for observing bright objects such as the Moon and planets.

Excess magnification will only cause blurry views. To find the top useful magnification, I just needed to figure out the aperture of the scope in inches multiplied by 50, which would be the same as twice the aperture in millimeters.

This means a high-quality 4-inch scope cannot be pushed beyond around 200x. I got a small device with good optics that enables me to view the rings of Saturn or the main cloud belts of Jupiter, which can be seen even with just a magnification of 75x.

I steered clear of department store scopes that promised silly things like 700x power or something to that effect, as it would all simply be hype.

That’s how I got my beautiful telescope.

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My favorite websites about science

 

 

My fascination for plenty of things has driven me to explore the web to locate many scientific sites where I can pick up much information on science, especially astronomy.

Space.com has been ranked among The Most Popular Science Websites by eBizMBA, which evaluates a variety of websites according to the specific categories they belong to. Space.com gets an estimated unique monthly visitors of 3.5 million and is regularly updated, so there’s always fresh news and features on the site.

Space.com even has the trailer for the new sci-fi thriller entitled ‘Life,’ which hits theaters on March 24 this year. The movie stars Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson, among a superb cast of others. However, that’s just one of the things that make Space.com endlessly superlative, as it also features plenty of stuff to go crazy about on astronomy.

This includes the 4th flyby of Jupiter by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. And there’s plenty more where that came from.

 

ScienceDaily covers the latest scientific discoveries and breaking news in the science world. One of the most popular science news sites, this one provides access without any subscription fees to more than 65,000 research articles along with 1,500 book reviews, 2,500 encyclopedia entries, 15,000 images as well as limitless numbers of education videos, all for free.

There’s always an article for every topic in science, from zoology to astrophysics. The great thing about this site is it gets updated several times a day for seven days every week, which means there’s no shortage of something fantastic to read or go over to get any science enthusiast like me engaged all the time.

I have even signed up for the email newsletter to ensure I am given notifications of critical scientific discoveries along the way.

Fans of The New York Times will be delighted to know it has a special Science page dedicated to scientific events about the cosmos, space, and the environment. Do check the site out, won’t you?

NOVA, which just happens to be public television’s most watched documentary series, aside from being the highest-rated TV series on science, is accompanied by articles, personal essays, interviews, and slideshows along with 360-degree panoramas plus interactive features to accompany every topic.

National Geographic has its Science and Space site that provides plenty of information on a variety of topics such as space, technology, archaeology, the Earth, the prehistoric world, the human body, and health.

 

Another free and fun resource of scientific knowledge online is Understanding Science, a website designed to communicate what science is and help learners know how it works. I love how the site provides an inside look at the core principles, motivations, and methods concerning science in general.

K-16 teachers will find the site highly useful as it provides strategies and resources that can improve their understanding as well as reinforce the nature of science as they tackle their scientific teaching role.

Understanding Science delivers a highly informative reference for students and the general public to also understand the nature of science more accurately.

Indeed, the web has become a veritable source of scientific information with something for everyone!

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