…continued10 Top Telescope Questions
At last, here’s the question I get asked most often!
Inexpensive department-store telescopes are still the bane of our hobby. The same holds true for closeout telescopes from mail-order catalogs, the ones sold in sporting-goods and toy stores, and most scopes sold on eBay. Some of these are so cheaply made that they may not show you anything worth looking at.
As a rule of thumb, avoid telescopes advertised to deliver unrealistically high magnifications (above 500×). Their high-power views will be dim and blurry that’s if you can even get the scope aimed at anything. Also, most telescopes under $200 should be regarded with skepticism. Although a few good-quality exceptions do exist near this price, you can avoid most junky scopes by simply setting your budget higher. And sometimes you can spot a lousy scope just by looking at it. If it looks cheaply made, chances are it is.
If you’ve already purchased one of these so-called “telescopes,” see if you can return it even if you have to pay a restocking fee. Then go to a specialty retailer and chalk up the money you lost as the cost of a little education. A reputable, knowledgeable telescope dealer will sell you something that fits your needs. The kicker is that a “legitimate” good-quality telescope may actually cost less than the one you saw down at the mall.