Starting a new journey in astronomy often begins with the question of what size telescope to buy.
The advice regularly given is to get a pair of binoculars rather than a small telescope and in the past this was with good reason – often telescopes of less than 80mm aperture were of poor quality.
Today, advanced optics including multicoatings and extra dispersion glass, coupled with lower prices means that there is a good range of small but quality telescope OTAs on the market.
In January’s issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, I review the Altair Astro StarWave 70ED.
Like many modern 60 to 80mm OTA's it can be attached to a tripod and used without an expensive astronomical mount, helping to keep the price down.
Also this month, Steve Tonkin reviews the Opticron Oregon 11x70 binoculars.
They too benefit from advances in mulitcoatings and lightweight construction along with a good price to boot!
So is there a place for a more traditional telescope for the beginner?
Yes, the ever faithful Dobsonian telescope benefits from lightweight construction, good optics and simplicity of operation.
You can use a range of eyepieces and get a good sized aperture for under £500 as Andrew Phethean discovered when he reviewed the Orion SkyQuest XT8Plus.
However you plan to start, there is an optical system just waiting to be turned onto the night sky ready for you to explore the Universe with.