What Can You See in a Telescope?

Telescopes are a compromise between price and quality

 I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody said to me they’ve just gotten interested in astronomy and off the bat wanted to purchase a telescope. My usual response to this is wait!

Now first,  spend some quality time under the stars and then, when you think you’re ready, go out and purchase a good telescope. Naked eye astronomy is also especially rewarding if you’re observing with children, who no doubt will pepper you with questions about the various stars and constellations. Nothing can compare with the feeling of making a direct connection to the cosmos!  This is what a telescope can bring. See my website www.davidreneke.com for a range of scopes to choose from.

Seeing for yourself the distant worlds of our solar system, the stars and nebulae in the black void is a deep personal experience like no other. Be aware though that the views won’t look like the full colour spreads in magazines and books. Only instruments like Hubble can do that. You know, a telescope is really a subtle space ship of the mind. When you look at the stars you’re looking backwards in time. When you use a telescope, you’re using a time machine!

Your telescope’s range is limited only by your willingness to be patient. Learn how to use it to its best advantage and learn how to really see what it is showing you. The Moon will be dazzlingly bright and sharp with a lifetime of detail to explore.  The planets will look very small, even with high power, but if you’re patient you’ll be surprised how much colour and subtle detail will be revealed, especially during brief moments when our atmosphere is steady.


A good scope, star-map and clear skies are all you’ll need to get started

Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s bands are always show stoppers. The Moon and planets make rewarding targets from even the most light polluted places. Stars are tiny and sometimes colourful pinpoints of light, no matter how big a telescope you have.  Star clusters can look like brilliant celestial jewels packed tightly together.  Nebulae and galaxies range from big and bright to frustratingly faint.  Patience and persistence will win out. 

All of your observing, with the unaided eye, binoculars or a telescope, will be easier and richer with the help of a good guide book, star maps and over the counter sky software like Starry Night. Here’s a tip – if you go to www.stellarium.org you can download a program almost as good.

Called ‘Stellarium’ it renders 3D type photo realistic skies in real time. It displays stars, constellations, planets, nebulae and others things like ground, landscape, atmosphere, etc. I use it all the time. It’s easy to use, and free to down load.


Dave says:

It sure is Derek. Thanks for the comment

Derek says:

I like to tell people that a telescope is a time machine. With one, you can see back in time.

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