Summer may be over, but it can still be a great time to get into nature and start making discoveries. With our incredible stock of telescopes, ranging from inexpensive toy scopes to the larger, much more powerful models, we can get you to the moon - or atleast get you a nice view of it - right away.
Choosing the Right Telescope
There are two main varieties of telescopes: refractor and reflector. Both varieties will work well for looking up at the night sky, given a decent power of magnification. If you do intend to do some stargazing, it is always a good idea to get out of the city. Light pollution will limit what you can see, no matter how great your telescope may be.
The kind of telescope you want depends on what you will be using it for and how you will be using it. What do you want to look at? Where do you live? Where do you think you might want to take your telescope?
A refractor telescope is what you usually imagine when you think about a telescope: a tube with a big lens at one end and a smaller lens at the other. Light from the image that you observe enters through the larger lens, which bends or "refracts" the light before sending it through the smaller lens, which refracts the image once again before it enters your eye. These refractions create the "magnified" image you see through the telescope.
If you are primarily using your telescope for terrestrial viewing - looking outward at birds, distant scenery, and so on - a refractor is your best bet. Refractor telescopes range in sizes from very small, inexpensive explorer scopes for kids, to bigger, tripod-mounted models and portable models are available.
If you are taking a look at the moon, a refractor will be fine. But if you want to get a good look at Mare Crisium (a huge lunar plain), see Saturn's rings or Jupiter's moons, you'll want to go with a reflector.
A reflector telescope uses a large mirror at the bottom of the tube to reflect light back up to the top. This mirror is parabolic (shaped like a dish), which gathers light from a distant object and focuses it back to a smaller, flat secondary mirror, which then reflects the light once more through a finder scope to your eye.
Reflector telescopes are much larger and pricier. These ones need more stability and will be tripod-mounted. You can't carry a reflector around the forest to take a few quick glances at some birds and move on. Also note that the finder scope on a reflector will present an image to your eye that is "upside down" and "backward." This is normal for an astronomical scope--there is no real up or down in space, after all. The big Omega Reflector scope we carry from GeoSafari does come packed in with an image erector that flips the field image for looking at things on Earth.
A refractor telescope is all sealed up, so there is really no maintenance involved other than wiping the lenses on the ends. A reflector telescope is not closed up, so you can get a bit of dust collecting on the mirrors and the finder scope. It takes a lot of dust to affect the image quality, so you won't be cleaning out your telescope on a regular basis. Just make sure that you exercise some common sense: make sure that you always store the telescope properly with the caps in place. When it does seem a little dusty in there, a quick spray from a can of compressed air should suffice.
Magnification and Light Pollution
The most powerful telescope we currently carry is the Omega Reflector, which magnfies up to 300x. This should be more than enough power for anyone looking for any novice stargazer. Even this magnification is enough to make objects in space wander out of view because of the rotation of the Earth. More powerful telescopes have motors and other means of correcting for the Earth's rotation in order to keep objects in view.
Our customers should also know that using one of our larger telescopes to view the night sky will be much more satisfying if used outside of the city. A bigger telescope collects more light, but it certainly does not filter out the ambient light that washes out our view of the stars and planets in the city or the suburbs.