Buying your first used telescope
Thinking of buying your first telescope? After checking various online stores, you already have an idea of the optics you are looking for and most probably after having seen the prices, you have wondered if there is any way to save some money. Browsing the web once again, you came across the various marketplaces and Facebook groups, but hesitating on the purchase because you do not know exactly how to evaluate a telescope.
Here are 6 useful tips to follow when buying a used telescope.
- Do not worry too much about the dust on the light unit, but instead look for scratches or flaking of the coating that could compromise the optical performance of the telescope. Another element to be checked is the mold, as it is capable of ruining anti-reflective treatments.
- Check all the telescope mechanics. Make sure nothing is broken or damaged. Mold stains are something to keep away from telescopes. Make sure that the bearings work smoothly and that the focuser does not have the bent shaft or chipped gears. Look out for swings, although some of these may be “normal” or easily repairable.
- Check that all the screws are present, especially in the collimation mechanisms, as all the screws are essential for perfect optics.
- In the case of frames with electronics; check that the controller has the latest firmware version (some controllers can not be updated). Take a test of the frame and make sure that all movements are fluid and decisive. If the frame is equipped with an illuminated polar scope, check that it lights up correctly.
- If you can bring the telescope under the stars, even better. You will immediately realize its potential and you will be able to understand if it is what you are looking for.
- Check that the used price is in line with the other telescopes on sale. In case there is no reference, the 60% rule usually applies; that is, a used telescope is worth 60% of a new one, even if this rule is obviously to be reviewed on a case basis.
Although buying the first used telescope is certainly good for the wallet, it is important to know what to check, so that you can enjoy its functions fully. In case you don’t have any amateur astronomer friends who can help you, try to join an association or other relevant groups. There you will surely find amateurs willing to help you.