A telescope to look at ships and stars
March 25, 2008 7:24 AM   Subscribe

My sister has a cottage on the coast, and wants to buy her husband a telescope that he can use to look at ships out at sea during the day, but also to observe stars and planets at night. Does such a thing as an entry-level hybrid telescope exist, and if so what's a good one, available in the UK or Europe?
posted by Hogshead to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
Any astronomy telescope should be able to do both. You want to find out if the scope inverts the image. Most astronomy scopes do, due to the various lenses and mirrors. You can then buy an image inverter adapter to use when looking at ships. This way the ships won’t be upside-down when you look at them.

A lot of higher end astronomy scopes use equatorial mounts, which are great if you’re looking at rotating stars. These mounts aren’t great for pointing at stationary objects on Earth, however. Since you’re looking at entry level scopes, you probably don’t want an equatorial mount.

Keep in mind most low-end scopes aren’t great for looking at deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebula due to the poor quality optics. You’ll have no trouble looking at the rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter though.

Also, don’t rule out a decent pair of binoculars. In many cases binoculars are better for amateur astronomy. They’re also more portable and much, much easier to use.
posted by bondcliff at 7:56 AM on March 25, 2008

Leica has some excellent glass for this sort of thing.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:09 AM on March 25, 2008

The rule (well at least used to be) is that at the lower/entry price range a pair of binoculars will be better than a telescope for the same money...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:21 AM on March 25, 2008

Binoculars are far easier to use and give much superior results per dollar spent. If any astronomy is intended, 10x50 binocs are recommended. You want porro prisms and "fully multicoated" optics. And get a book on binocular astronomy; you will be amazed at how much you can see with them.
posted by neuron at 11:40 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

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