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I'm wanting to purchase a telescope for the first time. I've narrowed it down to 2 options based on what I've discovered from researching and my price range. I mainly want do planetary observations and some deep space. The 2 options that I've found are the following

  1. Celestron 114 LCM Computerized Telescope

  2. Orion 9851 SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope

From what I've gathered, both do have decent specs for what I want to do but I'm still a bit lost when it comes to the aperture and focal length. The Celestron 114LCM has a 1000mm focal length but the aperture is only 114mm where the Orion 130 has a 900mm focal length but a 130mm aperture. Am I right in thinking that the Orion telescope would be better for me? Also, with the Celestron telescope it is computerised so, although the fun would be taken out of messing around with the scope and feeling satisfied with the results, is it really worth it to have this feature for a first time purchase? Thanks in advance!

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We can compare these scopes on a few grounds:

Celestron 114 LCM

Orion 9851 SpaceProbe 130 EQ

  • Cheaper
  • Larger aperture
  • Greater highest useful magnification
  • Non-computerized (the experience of learning the sky through one's own methods, alone with the telescope, is one which you should not deny yourself, in my humble opinion)
  • EQ mount (allows for simple star tracking)

These are just some items which stand out to me as being important. The question you have asked is largely one of opinion—there is no "right" answer here. It depends entirely on what you want. You say you want to focus on planetary observations, a field where extreme magnifications are common and useful. For deep space, larger apertures and shorter focal lengths will aid.

The focal ratio is a quick way to judge the "speed" of the telescope's optics. It is found by taking the ratio between the focal length and aperture. The Orion scope in this instance has an f-ratio of f/6.9, while that of the Celestron is f/8.8. This implies that the view through the Orion scope will be slightly brighter, broader, and less-magnified than that through the Celestron, for any given eyepiece. However, these ratios are quite close and are both within a range commonly used both for deep-sky and planetary observations.

My final piece of advice is that for a beginner, the subtle differences between these scopes in these regards simply does not matter. You are unlikely to experience any significant difference between these two scopes. Because of that, I would personally recommend going for the Orion telescope—it's cheaper, will give you greater magnifications for planetary observations, and its lack of computerization will force you to truly learn the sky. Should you desire easier set-up, less time navigating through the sky, and so on, then the computerized Celestron may be preferable.

Telescopes are beautiful instruments. Whichever you choose will serve you well.

Clear skies!

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for all of the information! I think I'm going to go with the Celestron scope because of the ease of use- for my first scope at least. Maybe after I get more into it I'll look into upgrading to something a bit more advanced. I believe with this scope I could disable the computerisation if I wanted to give it a try. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Fisher Nov 15 '16 at 3:00
  • $\begingroup$ A terrific answer here! $\endgroup$ – Fattie Nov 15 '16 at 8:42

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