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Emily LakdawallaNovember 29, 2007

How to buy a telescope

Every year I get several queries from readers on how to get started with astronomy and questions on what kind of telescope to buy. As I have never owned a telescope or even binoculars and have, I am sad to say, looked through the eyepiece of one about five times in my life (not a night person, you see), I'm probably the worst space writer in the universe to offer such advice. Fortunately, I can point all you budding amateur astronomers to Phil Plait, who has much more useful advice to offer. I will echo his advice on attending star parties. I have attended a couple -- in fact, those are the only occasions on which I've looked through a telescope -- and the people who attend such events tend to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and only too happy to share their wisdom with you!

If a telescope is too pricey a gift, consider offering a Planetary Society membership. I try not to shill too often for membership in this space, lest I become as obnoxious as an NPR pledge drive, but really, we can do a lot of great things with your money, and members get The Planetary Report as a benefit, among other things...

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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