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Magnification – I have seen on more than one occasion a person over-emphasizing a telescope’s “mag”. The main offenders seem to be inexperienced sales people who have never used a telescope or worse someone whose only interest is parting you from your money.

The truth is a telescope’s Magnification is the least important consideration for viewing objects. Yes it will make objects look bigger but there are a lot of pitfalls as well, let me explain…

  •  It will show all the imperfections in the telescope’s optics.
  •  It will cause you to notice the imperfections of your mount with shaking, and even a small breeze will be very noticeable.
  •  A object you are viewing will zoom across your eyepiece and cause you to keep adjusting, to keep up with it.
  •  The telescope will shake when you touch it and even your heart beat will be noticeable.
  •  The instabilities of the earths atmosphere will be very noticeable.
  •  Some objects will appear fussy.

Even experienced observers find it difficult to track an object at very high magnification. The earths atmosphere is rarely stable enough to permit useful magnification beyond 250x, especially if you are observing from suburbia.

Avoid telescope’s that boasts about magnification. Look for terms such as “coated optics” and “diffraction limited”.

This brings us to another important point – Don’t spend money on expensive eyepieces to magnify. Wait until you have the experience to know what your telescope will handle. Instead buy a Barlow Lens which will give your eyepieces more variety with magnification.

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