margoqml wrote:Hi, thank you for a quick reply.
I thought I might be pushing my luck trying to get a refractor, but gumtree is a good idea, I will have a look. Is there anything I need to look out for when looking at used telescopes?
I live near Cotswolds, which has its positives - the skies here are nice and dark, or at least that's what it looks like to me - and negatives - the nearest astronomy society is an hour drive from me, a bit far to my liking.
I've only ever bought one scope second hand and I already had an eyepiece I knew was 'reasonable', so I could make a fair assessment of the 'view' even though it was daytime.
If you're buying a Dobsonian or other Newtonian, it's possible that the collimation will be out, so it'll be hard to tell if a poor view is likely to be fixable or not.
Amusingly, a usual piece of advice for a reflector telescope that you own yourself is to NEVER look at the mirror with a flashlight - all you'll see is the dust, which actually has a negligible effect on its performance; however, if you are buying a reflector, you should check the mirror for signs of chips, scratches, gross amounts of dirt etc. Other than that, make sure that the focuser is smooth across the full range of movement, and that it moves smoothly in its mount.
When using an astronomical telescope during the day, you are likely to find that the image is relatively low contrast, this is because of the higher ambient light levels, but the image should be sharp and as even as possible across the field of view.
Is this your nearest club? http://cotswoldas.org.uk/cas/
Shame it takes so long for you to reach them, as clubs can be great places to get advice and encouragement, and may also have kit they no longer use and might consider selling on.