FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions
Books and accessories
1. Is amateur astronomy difficult to start with or will I be able to get straight into it?
You can get straight into it – there's not much easier than pointing a telescope upwards and looking through it. But if you're looking to enjoy this hobby on a more long-term basis, you might want to go a little deeper than that. We recommend that you buy a beginners' book and a stellar map along with your telescope so that you can really get to grips with the basics of stargazing.
We recommend the following books:
- Secret of star gazing : the perfect book for how recreational stargazers. It's loaded with practical advice to help new observers spend more time exploring the night sky and less time fumbling with equipment or wondering how, when, and what to observe.
- Patterns in the sky : Astronomy for Everyone Series will guide even the absolute beginner through the constellations in no time! The book emphasizes what anyone can see from a typical suburban backyard and concentrates on just-for-fun, naked-eye stargazing
The Moon: You'll see lots of craters as well as the small central mountain range in the middle which shows how they were first formed.
Planets: The biggest planet in the solar system is Jupiter, and it's a great one to observe. You can see the four big Galileo moons which, along with Jupiter itself, make it appear like a small solar system. There are visible cloud structures which are constantly changing, and you'll also be able to see the Great Red Spot (GRS), a 4000km long anticyclonic storm.You'll be able to see Saturn's ring, the Cassini Division, Equatorial Rings and sometimes white clouds. Alongside various smaller moons, there's the biggest moon in our solar system: Saturn's Titan moon. You can also observe Venus' phases, because from our perspective, Venus is only partly illuminated by the Sun.
Deep Sky: We can also observe objects which are further away than our Solar System, such as planetary nebula and Lyra's Ring Nebula (2000 lightyears away). We can also see globular clusters with 1,000,000 stars, such as M13 (around 30,000 lightyears away), and galaxies (like our Milky Way), such as the Andromeda galaxy (2.5 million lightyears away). You can also see emission nebula – which are where stars come from – like the Orion Nebula,1500 lightyears away.
Of course, it's not possible to see absolutely everything through a telescope – the possibilities are as endless as the Universe itself.
Just a quick word of warning to prevent disappointment – producers of smaller telescopes often display beautiful colour photographs from the Hubble Telescope on their packaging. You won't be able to see objects this way, especially since, first and foremost, these images are taken by professional astronomical photographers and they have been exposed for a long time (several minutes). However, don't forget that with a good telescope and the appropriate accessories, you will still be able to take some pretty good shots.
3. Which telescope is right for me?
That's a good question – but also a very difficult one. First of all you'll need to establish your goals. For example, if you want to get straight into deep sky observation and see fainter galaxies, you'll definitely be wanting an aperture of over 200mm. Observing galaxies is really only interesting with an aperture of at least 200mm and only reflecting telescopes offer such an aperture at a comparatively low price.
If you prefer to observe the Moon and planets, get yourself a refracting telescope, which will create a nice contrasting picture. If it's important that you have a particularly colour neutral and contrasting picture, you might want to consider getting an ED-Apochromat (a special type of refractor), because this offers a higher magnification as well as a clearer colour picture.
As well as the lens, telescopes also have a number of other distinguishing features and characteristics. There are heavy and more sturdy telescopes, or lighter, easy-to-carry telescopes. For children you can get easy to use telescopes, and for those who are into computers, your best choice would be a telescope which you can plug into your computer. You can find out more about this further on in our FAQ section as well as throughout the rest of the website. And of course, we're always more than happy to offer any advice and answer any of your questions – just give us a call!
That really depends on what you want to get out of it There are of course telescopes around the €60 mark, but if you're really wanting to get stuck into your new hobby and want to avoid disappointment, you'll be looking at spending at least €300. Above that, there's really no limit: the more you invest in a telescope, the higher the optical quality and performance, mechanical stability and lifespan. Brand name telescopes over €1000 were mainly developed for long-term and frequent use. Of course, there are good telescopes which cost less, but for the best mechanical quality and optimal performance, you should expect to pay a little more.
- The design: There are refractor and reflector telescopes. Both these designs are then divided into different subcatagories.
- The optics, such as lens diameter and focal length: the larger the diameter of the telescope, the more light it collects. This is usually more important than the focal length, which is what gives it its magnification.
- The way that it's mounted: this is where the the astronomical (equatorial or parallactic) mounting can be distinguished from the simple azimulthal mounting. The former is recommended for the majority of observations as it allows the telescope to rotate using one small wheel, which balances out the earth's rotation and keeps your chosen celestial objects in focus. The azimuthal is easier to assemble, operate and transport, and is particularly good for daytime nature observations.
- Some telescopes use the so-called Go-To-control. This allows you to view several thousands of celestial bodies that are saved in an intergrated computer at the touch of a button.
- Fraunhofer achromatic lens : a classic refractor but with colour aberration.
- ED-Apochromat: constructed using an ED lens so that most of the colour aberration is reduced but the contrast is not compromised.
- Achromatic lens : Vollapo” - here there is no colour aberration. Mostly made up of a three or four lens system.
Reflector lens telescope
- Newton reflector: A classic Isaac Newton telescope with a primary and secondary mirror. Simple and reliable system.
- Maksutov Cassegrain: System using a primary and secondary mirror and a meniscus-shaped correction lens.
- Schmid-Cassegrain: Similar to the Muksutov, but instead of the correction lens there's a Schmidt corrector plate to correct the aberration.
8. What's better – refractor or reflector?
The answer to this question is different for each individual. A good refractor offers a lovely contrasting picture. Here there is nothing in the optical path which could lead to shadowing or not enough light (which happens with a reflector). You won't be able to see any “spikes”, and open star clusters appear extra fine and attractive. On the other hand, they are usually only produced with small apertures, as this telescope would otherwise become too bulky and expensive. Also, lots of refractors with a smaller focal length tend to have colour aberration.
Reflectors, on the other hand, are produced with very large apertures and therefore also offer plenty of light. This is important for deep sky observation, for example. When a refractor and a reflector have the same diameter, the reflector tends to be better.
en Reflektor gleicher Öffnung vergleicht, ist der Reflektor in der Regel der günstigere.
Yes, all telescopes can be used for this. But because a telescope always produces an upside down image, you'll need a lens which turns the object the right way round again – with a Newton telescope you'll need an erecting lense and with a refractor it's best to use a 45° or a 90° Amici prism.
10. What's the best telescope brand?
It's impossible to say which brand is the best. Of course there are certain telescope brands which are sure to be excellent – for example Celestron, Vixen and Meade. But less expensive brands, such as Skywatcher are also very good quality. Most mid-priced telescopes are produced in China and the quality should therefore be good, as branded products from China tend to have a higher quality control.
11. I 'd like to observe galaxies as well as planets. What sort of telescope should I buy?
Wenn es um Galaxien geht, sollte es auf jeden Fall ein reflecting telescope with at least a 200mm diameter as in our opinion, that's when observing galaxies becomes interesting. You can, of course, use it for observing planets as well.
It's relatively unimportant whether you go for a Newton, a Maksutov or a Schmid-Cassegrain, although Newton reflectors offer the most diameter for your money.
For very young children, we would recommend the Infinity-Telescope. The moon, for example, can be observed very well using this telescope. Its use is limited, but it looks good and is robust and easy enough for children to use.
For children aged 6 and over, we would recommend a lighter telescope with a simple, azimuthal mount. Here are some examples:
For slightly older children aged 8 and over, we would recommend the smaller Newton telescopes, for example:
- Omegon 114/900 EQ-1
- Teleskop-Service 114/900 EQ
- Skywatcher 130/900 EQ-2
- Bresser Messier N-130
- Seben BigBoss
These telescopes are good for beginners and are easy for children to use, both in size and weight. If you're after a slightly bigger telescope, we'd also recommend a Dobson telescope. These telescopes are really easy to set up, easy to operate and any child should be able to achieve a good image without any problems.
There's really no difference between a teenage beginner and an adult beginner. If you have the budget for it, we'd recommend using a slightly larger telescope so that you can pick up on more of what the universe has to offer. For example:
The GoTo telescopes are also worth a mention – these have computers installed which means that the telescope points towards certain objects independently. The following telescopes are great for teenagers or adults who are really very interested in astronomy:
- Vixen Skypod
- Meade 6" Newton auf LXD-75 mit Autostar GoTo-Steuerung
- Skywatcher Maksutov 150 HEQ-5
- Skywatcher 254/1200 EQ-6 mit GoTo
- Vixen Sphinx
When you're travelling, you're often faced with the problem that you can't pack too much. Therefore you should probably go for a slightly smaller scope which also fits in your luggage, such as the Celestron NexStar SE or the Meade ETX. If you're not bothered about it being computerised, you might want to try out Skywatcher's Travelmax Maksutov.
14. Can I operate a telescope using my PC?
First of all, there are telescopes which already have a built in computerised GoTo function. With a telescope like this you can point with ease towards nearly any object that you want. Find selected telescopes which have this function here:
link to the category GoTo-telescopes
Some telescopes offer the option of attaching it to a PC using a port. You'll also need a programme (or a driver) to support the telescope, for example Starry Night.
15. Why would I want a motor for my telescope?
Lots of telescopes with a parallactic (equatorial) mount are supplied without a motor. As soon as you've directed it towards the Polestar and found an object, you have to rotate the wheel on the right ascension axis. This balances out the earth's rotation and ensures that the object stays in the middle of the field of view. If you're observing for a long period of time doing this can get quite annoying – but a motor can do the work for you and you can concentrate on the observing. For astrophotography it's an essential.
A Dobson is a Newton reflector which is placed in a “Rockerbox” (wooden box) instead of on a mount and tripod. A Dobson telescope is easy to assemble and the construction is simple so the money you spend is almost entirely on the optics. With the azimuthal Dobson mount, the telescope can be moved quite easily in any direction. Additional slide and pivot bearings can make it easier to use. If you get yourself a Dobson, you have the advantage that it's really quick to assemble because the telescope is only made up of the lens and rockerbox. Both parts are extremely easy to build and you can get straight on with observations without having to adjust anything.
Frequently beginners are disappointed at the first glance through the telescope. Usually due to false expectations, or because they can not find the objects.
Do not worry. The problem can be solved quickly. We have created a small checklist for you:
a) The telescope is suitable for star observation only at night and outdoors. An observation in the house or by day is not possible.
b) For observation, the cover must be removed from the telescope and an eyepiece inserted. Have you taken off not only the small, but also the complete large lid? If not, not enough light will enter the telescope and you will see everything black.
c) Have you adjusted the telescope and the viewfinder? If not, you could look into an area of space where there are no objects to watch. It is best to adjust the viewfinder to an object on the horizon, such as a chimney or a church tower.
d) Always start with small magnification, sharpen the image, and then increase the magnification step by step. Using a high magnification from the outset will not bring success. This too could be the reason for a black image.
e) Are you sure you have adjusted the focus on the eyepiece? If the objects are not focused, this can also be the reason for a black image.
f) Is the telescope adjusted? The mirrors can be adjusted by transport. If these are too much misaligned, the telescope exhibits a poor image at higher magnifications.
g) Have you let the telescope cool down long enough? The mirror and the tube must adjust to the ambient temperature (acclimatize), otherwise the device does not show a good image.
h) What did you observe? Stars do not look different at higher magnifications than at low magnifications. There are the objects like planets and nebula that are interesting.
i) Is the magnification too high for the object? For example, A weak galaxy with 300-fold magnification, the image will look pretty safe black. Each object requires its own magnification. Use a smaller magnification and try again. Take a test with the moon, it is the brightest object and you can try out all magnifications here.
Already during the day you should inform yourself about what you can observe when and where best. An annual yearbook is indispensable.
- We also recommend to follow the instructions for your device in peace!
- Select the moon as the first test object. It is the easiest to find and with the first successful observation many beginners problems can be solved.
About us18. Can I take a look at a telescope before I buy it?
Of course. We have a showroom where you can view different sorts of telescopes. You can handle the telescopes and work out which one's right for you. We're also more than happy to offer you personalised advise. It's probably best to give us a quick ring before you come so we know to expect you.
- Discounters can of course offer lower prices because of bulk buying, but these cheaper telescopes often prove frustrating for the buyer as they don't always come up with what's promised. This means that you can quickly lose interest in astronomy, so it's better to spend a little more and get a really good telescope to begin with. The advantage is that afterwards you'll still be just as interested, if not more interested, in astronomy!
- You can't rely on the advice you're given before you buy a product, or the support that you'll receive afterwards. With us, you can call or email and we'll advise you on which telescope is right for you. After your purchase we'll also be there for you free of charge, ready to answer any questions about the assembly or usage of your telescope. You won't receive this kind of service from discounters.
- A telescope is a very versatile instrument and a very large range of accessories can be used to enhance its use. Discounters often don't offer accessories, but with us you'll be able to find a large range for your every need so that you can get the best out of your telescope.
20. I'm not sure about buying a telescope over the internet. Wouldn't it be better to find somewhere where I can view the products first?
Of couse, so come and visit us! You're always welcome to come and visit our showroom where you can view our different products up close. If you aren't able to come to southern Germany, here are some more good reasons why you should shop with us:
- As a national supplier we can almost always guarantee the best prices because we buy in larger quantities.
- You might be able to view products in a showroom, but you can't try them out at night. With other suppliers, once you've used your telescope there's no chance of a refund, but that's not the case with us – we usually operate a 14 day returns policy which means that you can test the product out at home first, and if you aren't impressed then you can send it back.
Books and accessories21. I'd really like to find out a little more about telescopes. Are there any books that you can recommend me?
22. What accessories will I need?
That depends on what you particularly enjoy observing – but generally it's advisable to start with the eyepiece.
Most telescopes come with two eyepieces which offer different magnifications, but it certainly can't hurt to buy yourself a few more. It would make sense to buy one of a low, medium and high magnification. But also the more subtle stages in between can be useful. For example, observing planets starts getting interesting with a magnification of at least 150 times. Deep sky objects, on the other hand, are often nicely viewed with a lesser magnification.
Careful: The smaller the lens' focal length, the higher the magnification! Depending on the telescope, there will be a different maximum magnification that's recommended. Apart from the lens a moon filter is also a worthwhile buy, or perhaps a colour filter so that you can pick up on more contrast when you're observing planets. If you're interested in daytime observations, an objective sun filter is recommended, especially the Baader sun filter foil.
Barlow lenses increase the focal length of the telescope by two or three times. If you have a Barlow lens which increases the magnification by two and use that along with your eyepiece, you'll get twice the magnification.
So when you use an eyepiece which magnifies by 50, for example, and you use it with a Barlow lens, you'll achieve 100 times magnification. That will save you buying more eyepieces - but remember: it's a compromise, because single eyepieces offer a better picture.
Interested in more than just astronomical observation? In that case you'll be needing an erecting lens as a telescope always shows an upside down picture. For stargazing it's not really important whether it's the right way round or not, but for other observations this isn't the case.
If you're interested in astrophotography, you'll need the appropriate accessories. The easiest thing to do would be to use a normal, compact digital camera and a universal camera adapter. However, you'll achieve even better results by using a digital or analogue reflex camera. We've got a wide range of adapters and T-rings for all types of camera.
23. I want to take astrophotos – what do I need?
The easiest way to practise astrophotography is by attaching a camera. This way you can take photographs of the stars with a photo objective. You don't need much except for a good mount, and for bigger objective focal lengths you'll also need a positive eyepiece with micrometer . Your mount should of course also have a motor.
With a PC-eyepiece you can put images of the Moon and planets up onto your PC's screen and then save them. If you don't have a PC or prefer to transfer images onto a video camera or TV, a TV-eyepiece is also available.
Another favourite for taking astro shots is a webcam, mostly used to photograph our Earth and the Moon. A PC or laptop must be nearby your telescope so that the photos can be transferred directly. The Phillips Webcam SPC 900NC is especially well designed for this. It uses a CCD chip rather than a CMOS chip like other cameras, so it's particularly good for astronomical purposes. You can attach it to the telescope using a 1.25'' adapter. We would also recommend a Barlow lens, as you can lengthen the focal length to increase the magnification of the planets.
Another possibility would be to use Meade's DSI camera. It's similar to the Phillips webcam, but unlike the webcam it can stay exposed for longer. With the integrated supersensitive chip and temperature sensors, after a little vocational adjusting it's possible to take some really nice deep sky pictures, ones that just a few years ago only professionals were able to take.
If you have a compact digital camera, you can use a universal camera adapter to connect it to your telescope.
If you want to photograph planets, you'll need a projections adapter. You can connect it to your eyepiece and then project the images of the planets into a photo.
For further advice on astrophotography just get in touch.
24. How can I view the sun through my telescope?
For solar observation you'll need an objective sun filter, usually made from foil. As it's placed in front of the lens, it only allows a tiny, safe amount of sunlight through the telescope. Be sure to avoid lens sun filters (that you can't buy from us), as they can be dangerous.
Another possibility is to use a projection screen. With this method you allow the sun into the telescope and project the sun's image onto a white screen. The lenses should be binded together.
Warning: Never look directly at the sun through a telescope without an objective sun filter!
25. What do colour filters do?
When observing planets, colour filters strengthen contrasts. Using the right filter, surface details that were otherwise faint or unrecognisable become stronger. We'll of course gladly advise you on which filter you'll need.
A particularly recommended colour filter set is by Omegon, where you get 6 different colour filters at great value for money. We've carried out a few tests ourselves and found that they offer outstanding optical quality and that the combination is excellent for strengthening contrasts on the different planets.
26. Is it better to use a Barlow lens or rather an eyepiece of the appropriate magnification?
In our opinion, nothing can beat a good eyepiece. The Barlow lens is always just an extra optical tool, and the quality of image is reduced as reflexes occur. But on the other hand, the Barlow lens can be pretty handy, and for webcam photography it's almost essential because the focal length of the telescope can be extended and therefore the planet images will appear bigger.
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27. Which binoculars are designed for astronomy?
Binoculars that are designed for astronomy should be relatively bright with a lens diameter of over 42 or 50mm. They should be compact, light but also effective and powerful enough. Be careful that the magnification of the binoculars isn't too high. Over 10 times is really pointless if you want to hold the binoculars in your hand rather than mount them on a tripod. Apart from that, the optical quality is a deciding factor – transparency, contrast, coating and colour fastness. These qualities set apart a simple pair from a high-quality pair.
Here are some examples of appropriate binoculars:
- Omegon 8x42 WP, MC
- Omegon 10x42 WP, MC
- Bresser Corvette 8x42 roof prism
- Bushnell Legend 12x50
- Bresser Hunter 10x50
- Vixen Apex Pro 10x50
There are also special big binoculars, but these need a tripod:
- Omegon 15-45x80 WP, MC
- TS 20x80 large binoculars
- TS 25x100 large binoculars
- TS 25x100 large binoculars Gigant
28. What's the difference between Nexstar GT and Nexstar SE/SLT?
On the web you'll often find the GT series which looks similar to the SE. The GT series came before the SE and the differences between them are reflected in their prices: with the GT, the tube is not detachable from the bracket, there are no connection points for GPS and no connection points for your camera. The electronics are generally simpler and the software is two years old. There is also no coating with GT instruments.