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I own a Nikon OceanPro 7x50 pair of binoculars, but I find that when I look at the moon, I would like more magnification.

My requirements are:

  • costs less than $400
  • weighs less than 10kg
  • the length is less than 1-2 feet
  • much higher maginification than 7x (I already have a pair of 7x binoculars, as I said)
  • at least an 100mm objective I (I already have a device with a 50mm objective)

What kind of device should I go for? A spotting scope? Binoculars? A telescope of some kind?

Ideally, I'd go for binoculars, so that I can see with both eyes, but I'm told binoculars don't come with objectives larger than 100mm, for my budget.

I could buy a spotting scope, like this, but Wikipedia says that spotting scopes are not designed for astronomy.

I live in an apartment, so I can't use a big, heavy telescope, like a 4-feet 20kg thing. I don't have room in my apartment for such a big telescope, and I can't carry it over the threshold into the balcony.

So, what kind of device should I consider, and what are the tradeoffs? What kind of astronomical objects will I be able to see?

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Welcome to Astronomy Stack Exchange! Great question, and I hope we see some good answers that provide more meat than just specific brand recommendations (too subjective), but how to decide on a device that meets all of your qualifications. –  called2voyage Feb 6 at 17:00
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1 Answer 1

For higher magnifications, you are going to get into the territory where a tripod becomes a must. I mention this because you didn't say anything about a tripod, so the implication may not have crossed your mind. Unfortunately, the cost of a tripod will eat into your budget.

I am inclined to think that your best option would be a telescope. (Unless you also want to view terrestrial objects, then a cheap spotting scope might be what you want.) Maybe your best bet, to get a good one, would be to ask around on forums like cloudynights or iceinspace that have some support from astronomers local to you, let them know you are looking to buy, and maybe you can get one second-hand off someone who is trading up. You might get a better telescope for your money than trying to buy new.

If you want a smaller length telescope, you may be put off something like a newtonian reflector or another simple 2-mirror reflector. Still, try one out (maybe you can attend a local star-party and see some up close, even if there isn't a telescope store handy). A 114mm newtonian on a tripod would meet almost all your requirements including budget, even purchased new. It will be a bit less than 2' long; slightly bigger newtonians like 130mm start getting longer than 2'.

Otherwise, what might fit the bill is a small cassegrain-style reflector - these usually also have a corrector lens, making them a catadioptric type telescope - such as a Maksutov-Cassegrain. The extra manufacturing cost of making the lenses pushes up the price of these well past the simple reflecting telescopes, however.

Refracting telescopes with an objective of 100+mm are probably in your "too big" basket, and you're also not likely to find one with that budget.

You use different eyepieces to provide different magnifications using the same telescope. If you buy a telescope as a kit, it will come with at least one eyepiece, and it's likely the magnification provided will be more than 10x (divide the focal length of the telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece to find out).

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Thanks, Jeremy, and sorry that I did not respond in time. Regarding a tripod, I already have a tripod I purchased for use with a camera. It's the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT. Will that work for astronomy use? Regarding the 114mm newtonian, I did an Amazon search for that term, and found that most of the telescopes exceed my 10kg weight limit or the 1-2 feet length limit. Thanks for the tip about calculating magnification. As for buying used, I live in India, where there isn't a big market for this AFAIK, so I would hesitate about buying something used. –  Kartick Vaddadi Apr 2 at 4:57
    
Please let me know if I'm missing something, but since binoculars are available up to 80mm or 100mm, I don't see much benefit in going with a telescope. Binoculars let me use both eyes, and they are much smaller and lighter. For example, this pair of 100mm binoculars: goo.gl/7xH3Wj weigh < 4kg and are 19 inches long, while telescopes are longer and heavier. I also know how to use binoculars, and telescopes (from what I've read) take more time and effort to set up every time you want to use them. I'm concerned that that will cause me to lose interest in astronomy. Am I missing something? –  Kartick Vaddadi Apr 2 at 5:01
    
Seeing with both eyes is not really necessary for astronomy, as at the distances most objects are viewed at, 3D isn't achievable, and you are more likely to have double-image problems that are difficult to eliminate. You said at least 100mm, so I was looking at that objective size and larger, which puts you more firmly in telescope territory. That pair of binoculars will require a tripod that you will need to set up anyway. So you are going to have the same setup fuss with one or the other. –  Jeremy Apr 2 at 21:36
    
There are newts shorter than 2" and under 10kg. The tripod you mention is probably better than most photography tripods, so worth trying with high-power binocs. If you just want to look at the moon, then binocs will be fine. If you want to discover what else is out there to see, a telescope will probably offer better performance for the same money. If you just want to give it a try maybe binocs are the way to go. Review on the ones you linked: cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=193 –  Jeremy Apr 2 at 21:59
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