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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 2 January 2002
Did you know that a 'spotter' scope with fantastic zoom capabilities may not be the best telescope for viewing the stars? I didn't until I read this book - so I returned an expensive gift and reinvested the refund in something more suitable. You can save yourself hundreds (and possibly thousands) of pounds reading this short, handy book before buying a telescope.
As well as some easy to understand basics about telescopes, Scagell provides excellent case studies of what type of telescope are suited to particular owners, based on budget, where you live and how you think you might use it. Do you really need expensive and complex computerised tracking? Do you plan to use your telescope to take photos? What accessories do you need right away, and which are 'nice to have' and worth waiting for? Are you prepared to compromise on portability and maybe buy - or even build - something that may give better stargazing than a flashy, more expensive and more temperamental alternative?
One of the best pieces of advice (and difficult to swallow, if you've already been browsing telescope catalogues!) is that you may just be better off with binoculars to start with.
Scagell backs all of this advice with great stuff on what to look for when you finally find the telescope that's right for you: finding your way around the constellations, gazing at the moon, planets, satellites, etc, etc.
This is a great foundation for a backyard astronomer. For the price of a couple of astronomy magazines, you may well prevent a once-cherished telescope gathering dust under the bed because it was never meant to do the job you wanted it to do.
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on 26 November 2000
A book pact with enthusiasm for the subject, and being new to astronomy it has given me all the info I need to buy a telescope (which I now have) and launched me into this wonderful world, Buy it before you buy a telescope.
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on 4 March 2006
If you want to learn constellations, how to use a telescope to the best of it's ability, or you are looking to buy binoculars or a telescope, don't bother with other books, just buy this one. It is very useful for both someone who has never touched a telescope and those who are a little more seasoned.
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on 20 April 2016
It turned out to not be my subject
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on 6 April 2015
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 March 2013
Star gazing with a telescope Robin Scagill

My first foray into astronomy was back in 1960's and guided by Patrick Moore's "Observers Guide to Astronomy - 1962 " , I checked for options to buy a telescope - his unequivocal views were - based on equipment available at the time - either a 3" ( 76.2mm) refractor or a 6" ( 152.4mm) reflector - both of which were beyond my means. People also made their own telescopes , grinding their own mirrors in those days. These were viewed as minimum apertures for useful work
Fast forward 50 years - there are now many options available ( different equipment types , sizes , prices - from the USA ( with the unfortunate $ to £ scam when you buy in the Rip off UK ) , Russia and the far East ( mainly China) ).Equipment can be used for planetary , deep sky work , comet searching and , using latest CCD technology , photography of the heavens. There are even smaller aperture telescopes made with improved designs which may be worth considering
NOTE - unless you spend megabucks you are NOT going to get images like the Hubble Telescope shown on TV or in Astronomy Encyclopaedias
In order not to generate another unused ( sometimes expensive) white elephant a practical guide is required - this book fits the bill for choosing and setting up telescopes , their strengths and weaknesses for planetary and deep sky ( fuzzies like nebulae ) work .There is practical advice as to possible problems. At the end is a list of items to see and links to many other websites.
Best advice I got from the book - If possible get to a "star party" with a chance to see equipment in use , decide what you want to see in the skies , decide if you will really use it ( Britain is cloudy / damp or clear skies are very late in summer or freezing in winter) , What are you really willing to afford and how dedicated you are going to be. Motorised kit exists ( at a price and not always robust in the longer tem) but it will not make anyone a perfect astronomer.
There is also a short section on binoculars ( also covered in a separate book by co authored by the same author)) Some times the best advice is to try binoculars first ( a relatively low cost option) then add a telescope later . Most ( amateur) astronomers will do initial sky scans with binoculars anyway.
This is at present my route with a purchase of 15 x 70 binoculars to supplement my 8 x 42's - also useful for bird watching .
Still waiting for the skies to clear here in SW England ( Spring 2013)
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on 24 September 2002
Top Class Book, well formatted.
Very useful information, including Binoculars, Reflectors, Refractors, etc. Helpful buying guide for secondhand and new telescopes with case histories on some popular telescopes. Good information on viewing the night sky, which eyepieces and filters to use for what purpose, using planispheres and maps, viewing the sun, basics of astrophotograpy, even tips on drawing what you see! A list of interesting objects in the sky is also included along with some good Internet links.
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on 5 October 2002
Written with the beginner in mind this is an excellent book for people about to embark on a new venture - stargazing.
If you own a telescope and find the whole thing perplexing then I am sure this book will help. For me, however, its strength lies in its information aimed at people about to buy thier first instrument. Unbiased, to the point and very well explained it is one of the best starter books I have read in a long time. I feel confident that I now know what it is I am looking for to suit my needs and I can shop armed with all the information I need . Highly recomended
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on 16 April 2013
This was a gift and I haven't had any feedback -good or bad - about it. When I got and looked through it, it seemed to do what I thought it would.
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on 3 December 2003
i would advise any person wanting to buy a telescope(especially the beginner) to read this book before handing over your cash.it will save you alot of money in the long run (& disappointment) & it will tell you exactly what you should be looking for when buying a telescope depending on your interests.well worth it!!!!
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