Get Started Right with Your First Telescope

Sky & Telescope's introductory videos walk you through all aspects of buying, using, and caring for your first telescope.

My wife is not thrilled with the fact that I own more than a dozen telescopes. They're in all shapes and sizes: from the 60-mm Japanese refractor given to me when I was 12 to the big Celestron 9¼-inch Go To Schmidt-Cass hat I use for more demanding observations.

Most of my collection, however, falls in the general category of "beginner scopes." Here's why: Over the decades I've been approached by countless newbies who just want to know how to make their scopes work properly. I sometimes realize that they haven't bothered to read the instructions — but more often it's that the manual is woefully incomplete or confusing (or both). Rare is the telescope that comes with user-friendly guidance for finding things in the sky and, critically, for taking care of the purchase so that it can truly last a lifetime.

If only there were simple, accurate how-to videos to guide the millions of people who buy their first telescope every yet. But there weren't. Last year, after spending a lot of time scouring YouTube, Vimeo, and other internet video collections, the editors of Sky & Telescope decided to produce our own. The result, described in more detail here, is a set of four videos that every newbie should have. The titles are self-explanatory: Buying Your First Telescope, A Guide To Using Your Telescope, Care and Cleaning of Your Telescope Optics, and Accessories for Your Telescope.

Kelly Beatty & Dean Regas

Kelly Beatty & Dean Regas show what to look for before — and after — buying your first telescope.
Sky & Telescope

My co-host for these videos is Dean Regas, an S&T contributing editor who works at Cincinnati Observatory and has become well known as the co-host of the popular PBS show Star Gazers. Before the cameras rolled, we carefully mapped out all the aspects of telescope ownership that first-time buyers (or even long-time owners) would need to know. We made them as complete as reasonably possible.

You can get this quartet of videos either as individual digital downloads (click on the links above) or buy them bundled on a DVD. In this season of "dads and grads," our Skywatching Series of telescope videos gives you a lot terrific information and tips that you just won't find anywhere else.

("Now," my wife says,"maybe you need a video on how to sell used telescopes.")

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Kelly Beatty

About Kelly Beatty

J. Kelly Beatty, S&T's Senior Editor, joined the staff of Sky Publishing in 1974 and specializes in planetary science and space exploration. Learn more about him here.