How Much Should I Pay For a Telescope?
The good news is that you can get a beginner telescope in the price range of $100 – $600. As you might expect, the details you are going to be able to see for this price fall far short of pricier telescopes, but you will still be amazed at the detail you can see of the moon – craters and mountains you just did not know existed.
As a rough guide to telescope prices you should expect to pay around $5,000 for an 8 inch Refractor and $500 for an 8 inch Reflector. The big price difference is due to the fact that Reflectors use mirrors and these are a lot cheaper (albeit a nuisance to maintain) than the lenses in a Refractor telescope. A Catadioptric will fall somewhere in between and you should expect to pay $1,000 for an 8 inch telescope.
Given that refractors look the most like the traditional image of a telescope these are historically what most people bought to begin with, but given the staggering increase in price as you increase in aperture (lens size) the standard entry scope is about 2.4 inches. After a while with one of these the next choice for budding astronomers was a 6 – 8 inch Reflector. The Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope (with computerized object locator) will you set you back about $450. Go up to a 10 inch Reflector and expect to pay around $1,000.
Nowadays most people get started with a Catadioptric telescope as they provide the best option in terms of versatility and performance. They sit in the middle price range of the three telescope types meaning that you will have to pay more than for a Reflector of the same aperture, but in my opinion it is worth it. A Schmidt-Cassegrain with a decent 8 to 9 inch lens will cost somewhere in the region of $800 – $2,000. If you are determined to see deep space objects then ideally you are going to want an 11 inch lens and these will cost you somewhere in the region of $3,000 – $4,000. A Celestron EdgeHD 1100 CGEM SCT from telescope.com would currently cost you $3,599.
Cheap telescopes from cheap brands will almost always end in disappointment. When you can get an Orion Funscope for less than $50 there is really no excuse. If you can’t afford the telescope you want yet then wait a bit, and save some more. This might be hard to hear if you can’t wait to get started, but trust me, it is good advice. Telescope prices may vary massively but nowadays you don’t have to pay an astronomical amount for a very good beginners telescope