Tips for Choosing a Telescope for a Beginning Astronomer

For the people that look to the stars a telescope is the perfect gift. Choosing one can seem a bit confusing, but don’t worry I’m here to clarify. A telescope is comprised of two important parts a focal lens that takes in the light and an eye piece that lets the observer see celestial bodies up close.

Don’t be confused by the different types of telescopes the most important things to remember are focal length and aperture size. Focal length is how far the light travels inside the telescope before it hits your eye. Aperture size is how big the focal lens is, wider focal lenses amplify more light letting you view dimmer objects.

The formula for magnification is:

Focal length in millimeters is divided by the size of the eye piece in millimeters

FL/EP=xx* or x*xx

65x means that the object is magnified 65 times closer, and 9×35 means the object is magnified nine times through a 35mm focal lens.


1) Magnification – look for a telescope with a large aperture (width) and focal length. Remember that there a different kinds of telescopes. The focal length and actual length of a telescope can be deceiving.

2) Eye pieces – look for a telescope that includes multiple sizes. Different ones change the magnification and field of view (how much sky you see). Also a Barlow lens or telextender works by increasing the focal length or magnification.

3) Tripods – a telescope needs a tripod for stabilization. Most higher end telescopes will include a well made tripod. If you need to buy a tripod separately look for one with individually adjustable and sturdy legs with a lockable head. Be certain you can adjust the pitch of the head!

4) Star charts – make sure to include a celestial map to help your astronomer find interesting things to peer at in the night sky.

Have a great holiday.

For more info on how telescopes work goto: