Telescope for landscapes
March 30, 2024 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Recommend me some telescopes for land viewing.

Looking for reasonably priced telescopes for viewing distant buildings and mountains around 25-35 miles away. Bonus if can be used for some minor night time astronomy but not the main feature here. I don’t know the options or what I want !
posted by St. Peepsburg to Technology (5 answers total)
The search words are "terrestrial telescope".

I don't know either what you want in terms of magnification or budget. Probably anything under $250 will not be good enough, maybe by a lot. Something like this is getting close. Any serious telescope may require some additional investment. A different eye piece for example.

Don't skip on the tripod/stand/mount.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:51 AM on March 31

I don’t really understand what the use case is… do you need to be able to distinguish anything smaller than a building at that distance? Does it need to be lightweight?

If you live somewhere with air pollution, pollen, mist, or heat haze, air quality is going to be as much of a limitation as optical quality.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 6:18 AM on March 31

Response by poster: I’d like to see better than buildings but don’t need to see people in cars. Enough to pick out distinct features in the mountains or buildings, or see large boats on the water. That’s general and vague because I’d like to know what’s out there in terms of cost / quality.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:54 AM on March 31

You might want to check out spotting scopes. They were originally made for hunters and target shooters, but are now widely used by birders and other people interested in observing wildlife. I've used mine for some minor astronomy, and it works well enough for getting a good look at the moon, Jupiter's cloud bands, and Saturn's rings.

If there's someplace around you that sells optics for birding, you should be able to try out some scopes there.
posted by mollweide at 11:08 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]

A Celestron C-90 might fit the bill. Use the included 45-degree diagonal for terrestrial viewing and pick up a 90-degree diagonal for astronomy. Although, as SemiSalt notes above, you may want a better mount. There's a trade-off between mount portability and stability, and the more magnification you use, the more stability matters. It's hard to enjoy the rings of Saturn if the view is too wobbly to get a good look.

You'll probably want some better eyepieces with a wider field for more comfortable viewing, and more magnification to get the distance detail you're looking for. The included 32mm eyepiece will give 39x magnification, and for others just divide the telescope's focal length (1250mm) by the eyepiece's focal length. Orion expanse eyepieces will work great with this scope, are a good value for the money, and have a long-ish eye relief if you wear glasses. I'd go for the 20mm (63x) and the 9mm (140x). I used to have a 90mm Meade scope similar to this, and they worked well together. With the scope's built-in T-adapter threads you can attach a camera body with a suitable adapter and use it as a super-long telephoto lens if you're into photography--it will vignette with a full-frame sensor, but work fine with an APS-C. Poke around and read some reviews to see if it might be what you're looking for.
posted by indexy at 3:06 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]

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