I’m not sure if this is the right forum. I thought about CS, but astronomy isn’t really an artistic discipline.
Anyway, I want a telescope. I was big into stargazing as a kid, and had a couple basic telescopes along the way. After getting away from it for so long, I’m interested in picking up the hobby again.
Problem is, I’m not really up to speed on the gear. Whether I get something new or second-hand, I want to have all the right information to get a scope that will fit my needs. So how do I know what I need?
I’m pretty sure I want a reflecting telescope. I always used refractors before, and there just seemed to be so many more optical disadvantages…lots of aberrations that made viewing a drag. That may just be that those telescopes weren’t as high quality as they should have been. But it seems to me that reflecting telescopes are a bit more refined, and have no major drawbacks that I’m aware of.
In any case, I’d like to get a grasp on what kinds of specs are appropriate for typical backyard astronomy. I want to be able to see some of the cooler things out there, instead of just resolving a few more dim stars. I’d like to pick out some features of other planets, maybe some nebulae and galaxies. I don’t know what’s really reasonable to see with consumer equipment, but that’s why I’m asking here.
What kinds of focal lengths, mirror diameters, etc. do I need to see some of these various objects? Is a reflector really the telescope of choice? For the record, I live in a suburban setting, and so my own backyard may be the victim of too much light pollution. But I’ve got no problem with driving out into the country to get a better view.