reply to post by ShaithisFerenczy
If you're just looking to view the Moon, some of the more visible planets, and the occasional comet you can do a whole lot with a decent set of
binoculars and a mount. It could save you some money and there is a whole lot less to set up and move around.
If you're set on buying a telescope, get a Meade or Celestron. Both make excellent beginner telescopes and have very reliable optics. I prefer the
Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes for their smaller size and ease of use. It takes a bit more to set up, but purchase an equatorial mount and learn to set
it up properly.
The best time to view the Moon is when it's waxing or waning. If you look along the terminator (where the light and dark meet) you can get a lot of
definition and make out more details. Viewing a magnified full Moon washes out your eyes, and can at times be almost painful.
For dimmer objects, such as galaxies and globular clusters you should avert your vision by looking above/below or left/right the object. The cones in
your retina pick up the low light much better than the rods. (I might have the cones and rods backwards.)
Lots of times people will suggest getting the scopes that will align themselves and do all the work for you, but it just isn't the same. You really
don't learn as much and it isn't as rewarding, in my opinion. I also suggest buying physical star maps versus a computer. Computer batteries run out,
and then you're left without knowing how to find things. On top of that the light can be pretty distracting, even if the software does have a night or
red-light mode. One of my favorite books is the Universe Guide to Stars and Planets. Once you really get into it I would suggest buying the three
volumes of Burnham's Celestial Handbook.
Also, don't expect to see images like what the Hubble or other observatories can produce. A lot of times people will expect to see that sort of
vividness with their smaller scopes and eyes and it leads to buyer's remorse. If you want to see some awesome things, you can always get into
astrophotography, You can modify a webcam and get some pretty stunning results for low cost.
I hope that helps! Good luck and happy viewing!
EDIT TO ADD: Find a local astronomy club or observatory. Lots of times they host "star parties" and you can ask loads of questions and get to use a
wide variety of scopes. That way you can get a feel for what you're most comfortable with.
edit on 9/30/2012 by cmdrkeenkid because: Added