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I Finally Bought My First Telescope!

Many years ago, somebody asked me if it was possible to love a place you’ve never been to. I told her that there are *many* places that I loved but had never seen. At that time, we were talking about places like the Australian outback and unspoiled wilderness areas of Alaska.

It never occurred to me to consider that question about astronomical phenomena.

These days, I’m getting perilously close to retirement age, And it pains me to admit that as much as I’ve loved astronomy since my childhood, until recently, I’ve never owned a telescope of my own!

Definitely Gonna Buy One. But What Kind?Celestron 127eq

While boredly browsing around the labyrinthine maze that is Amazon.com, I stumbled upon the telescope listings. It didn’t take long for my lifelong regret for never getting around to buying one to finally bubble over. But I restrained myself from blowing a ridiculous wad of cash on the biggest bruiser they had to offer, which was a 16″ Dobsonian telescope made by Orion for $3,800.

No amount of booze or drugs was going to make me burn *that* kind of cheddar on my first telescope! So, I went for the much more reasonably priced Celestron PowerSeeker 127eq. Throw in a telescope bag and it came to $250. I could handle that without questioning my sanity.

A First Look at What I Had Been Missing All My LifeSaturn

In my younger days, while backpacking through breathtaking landscapes such as the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the Yellowstone Watershed in Montana, or the Grand Canyon, I’d watch in awe as the planets and the Milky Way wheeled across those dark, western skies with nothing but my unaided eyes, and occasionally a cheap pair of binoculars. My mind never made the connection of how much more awesome it would have been to see the rings of Saturn, rather than just a tiny yellowish point of light moving along the ecliptic.

Until September of 2018, I’ve made due with naked eye astronomy. Every once in a while, I’d manage a peek through a friend’s telescope; or mooch a look from other’s scopes at an Astronomy Club’s Star Party.
My first glimpse at the rings of Saturn through my very own telescope literally brought tears to my eyes! And no, I didn’t bang my eyeball against the eyecup. Saturn was no more than the diameter of a pea, but I could easily distinguish the rings from the planet. I felt as if I were gazing upon Kronus, himself, serenely luxuriating on his throne!

Jupiter and it's Galilean moons

I Wanted More!

After gawping like an idiot at Saturn for about ten minutes, I wanted to see everything else there was to see! Next stop was up and a little to the left. Looking at Jupiter, I couldn’t make out any of the cloud structure or the Great Red Spot, but I could easily spot the four Galilean moons.

After being dazzled by Saturn and Jupiter, Mars was a bit of a disappointment. It was only two months after Close Approach, but all I could make out was the planet’s reddish tinge and barely a hint of one the polar ice caps. Still, not bad for a 5″ aperture beginner’s telescope.

Down the Rabbit Hole and Deeper Into Space

Star Party

Okay, now I’m even *more* hooked on astronomy.  I’ve had my first telescope for a mere six months and I already want to upgrade to a more powerful one. I want to see the planets in greater detail. I’m also itching to see the deep sky objects for which my little 127mm just ain’t gonna cut it. Andromeda Galaxy and Orion Nebula, anybody? I may even spring for a computerized equatorial mount for astrophotography.

It’s fun to dream big, isn’t it? I figure showing up with two scopes to share might even raise my social standing a bit at Star Parties!

PS: I hear somebody’s looking for an Orion Barlow Lens and a 13% Moon Filter!


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20 Comments

  1. I love this post and how descriptive you are while describing before and after you got the telescope. Now you’ve raised my curiosity of having to see planets with my own eyes instead of reading about them and how they look from books and the Internet, but the price to pay is wow and hopefully someday will have to get one too. Thanks for sharing this. 

    • Hi Ayodeji! I’m glad you liked the article!
      Yes, pictures in a book or on the internet don’t do the planets justice. You definitely need to see them through a telescope to appreciate how beautiful they are.

      To the stars!
      Joe

  2. How fascinating our solar system is. I’m glad you did buy your first telescope, in my eyes it’s the first step to exploring more. And why not pursue your dreams? I think it’s a fulfilling and rewarding goal to reach. I was inspired by your article and am excited to read more about it. Thank you for an enlightening read!

  3. Interesting write up on how you finally bought your first telescope.they write up is so interesting I wish for it not to stop in other for you to share more experience on your  telescope.

    i have a telescope and one of the benefits of it is that telescope is able to get a clearer shot of everything from exploding stars to other galaxies.i must say you have a wonderful experience with your telescope. I will try and check the telescope you get at 250$

  4. Hi there, let me firstly congratulate you for being able to achieve a long time dream of having a telescope, even though you are about or close to retirement but not withstanding, you fulfilled a long time dream of yours even though you are unable to be an astronaut. There’s nothing bad in dreaming, in fact your dream keeps you going through hard time of life because u are determined 

  5. I found your article interesting,

    It sounded somehow funny that it is possible to love a place you have not actually got to. Yes, this is easier said by the astronomers as they see amazing things that are even of great distant functions. Thanks to the inventor of this powerful instrument. I am happy that at last you could get the telescope  and as you aspire for bigger one, be optimistic that you would get it. Keep exploring nature!

    • Hi Michael! Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you liked the article!

      Did you know that the telescope wan’t invented by Galileo? It was actually invented by Hans Lippershey in 1608! But Galileo did modify the design before he made his discoveries.

  6. Hi Joe, You and I have much the same past. I always wanted a telescope and tonight I googled it. I am not sure what I want to buy but the first ones I was looking at was about $1900.00  Like you I cannot justify that amount of money. 

    I am glad I came to your post. Do you think your choice of the celestron Power Seeker telescopes was a good one?   Would this be a good starter scope for someone like me.  I think $250 is workable in my budget.

    It was great to read your experience, now I can be a little more comfortable in my purchase knowing what to expect.

    Murray

    • Hi Murray! Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, I think it’s a good beginner telescope. There are a few things about it that could be improved, like the cheap plastic finder scope attachment and Barlow 3x multiplier eyepiece. 

      But hey, for $250, it’s still a great deal.  You’ll definitely enjoy it if you’ve never had a telescope before!

  7. Dear Joe,

    Thanks a lot for the interesting and helpful post I really enjoyed it. I got great insights from your post.

    To be honest, while doing my schooling, we went to a tour to see the “Birla Planetarium”.  It’s a large planetarium in providing a virtual tour of the night sky & holding cosmic shows on a specially perforated hemispherical aluminium inner dome. I was amazed to see those wonderful things and it was mind-blowing.

    Nearly for one month I had that impact and since then I was thinking of buying my own telescope too. So your post and experience means a lot to me. 

    The great news is Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope comes under my budget. I think its okay to start with and as you said moving forward anyhow we need to upgrade for much powerful one.

    Much Success,

    Paul

    • Hi Paul! Thank you for your comment

      Yes, the PowerSeeker is definitely a good deal for such a low price. You’ll enjoy it if you’ve never owned a telescope before.

      Great success to you, too!

      Joe

  8. Joe I am so happy for you that you have found something in life that you love and that inspires you.  There is nothing more beautiful than the sky, day or night, as far as I am concerned.  As far as suggestions for your website, and you may already be doing this, (I’m sorry to say that I didn’t take time to look around, but I will be back); you might consider telling us a little bit about what we are looking at.  You might also post your photos along with your text content about them on Instagram and Pinterest.  I remember one night I stayed with my sister who lives just outside the city limits and going outside at night, looking up at the sky and feeling like the stars were so close and brilliant that I could just reach up and pluck one out of the sky like one would pick an apple off a tree.  Where I live in the city, the stars have to compete with the city lights.  You don’t realize how much light there is at night in the city until you get out of the city at night.   

    • Hi Teri!  Thank you for your comment.

      Great suggestions about putting the pictures up on Instagram and Pinterest. I’ll definitely look into that!

      I live in the city too, so I hear you about the light pollution at night. Whenever I want to use my scope, I take a drive about 30 miles to the east of Fort Collins, where it’s nice and dark. You can still see the glow of the city lights on the horizon. But it’s not nearly as bad.

      Thanks again!

      Joe

  9. Hello and congratulations for finally buying your first telescope! I usually see the stars and planets by bare eyes, never think to buy my own telescope because I’m afraid I don’t have enough money to buy it. Since I got a job now, I might consider to buy one. Do you have any suggestion about what should we mainly check before buying a telescope? And also, is there a ‘camera’ function to capture what you see from telescope? Thank you.

    • Hi Alblue! Thank you for your answer.

      There are telescopes that come with built-in cameras, but those are pretty expensive. For most people, the less expensive way to take photos is to by a camera adapter that you can attach to the eyepiece sock on the scope. That’s what I do.

      Also, since the objects we want to take a picture of are slowly moving across the sky, you’d need a telescope that has a tracking system fr long exposure pictures. That will bring the price up too.

      I’m sure you’ll enjoy what ever you buy! Good luck!

      Joe

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