Mrs. Charming and Rested would like a telescope for her birthday in two weeks. We’ve set $600 price limit but if small dollars at that point go a long way, we can go a bit over. Since neither she nor I know about telescopes, I’d appreciate opinions on the relative advantages of manufacturers, type (refractor, reflector, or Cassegrain), and mount.
I think she’ll want to look at a range of things, from the moon and planets to other galaxies. I believe some in the Messier catalog are visible with 6" scopes but it seems that people use very different telescopes for solar system objects versus other objects. Are some telescopes more adaptable to both uses? What changes to a solar system setup would make it more suitable for looking at other galaxies?
There’s a lot I don’s understand, like the relationship between aperture, focal length, and magnification. Some telescopes advertise minimum and maximum effective magnification but I don’t understand what variables affect that. I also don’t know the ideal magnifications for looking at the moon, Saturn (rings!), or nearby galaxies.
I’m perfectly willing to buy accessories separate from the telescope if needed.
I don’t expect that she will use it for daylight or ground observation or for astrophotography.
A good easy to calibrate and use GoTo mount is a must. I know the common advice is to skip them but where she is just starting out, I think being confident of finding the thing she wants to look at and knowing it’s the right thing will go a long way to making this more fun.
My wife is shy enough that without knowing anyone in an astronomy club and without knowing much about telescopes or astronomy, I don’t think the suggestion to meet up with an astronomy club will be helpful.
Bonus points for links to a particular telescope that is in stock. Thanks!