That's a really good question. Before buying a telescope, there are a number of things you should seriously consider before parting with your hard earned money.
Included in this is it's capability, portability, maintenance, amount of storage space you have available, and of course the price. After all the objective is to get the best viewing capability for your budget.A used telescope is one way of obtaining a superior scope at a reduced price.
Keep in mind that the primary function of a telescope is to gather light. The more light a scope gathers, the more powerful it is. This is far more important than magnification alone.
If you reside in a built up area you may have to move the telescope to a more advantageous viewing area because of pollution from a host of different sources.
Very often if you are in a rural area you are at an advantage. Everything else being equal you can get a magnificent expanse of sky to view the stars.
Make sure that your intended telescope is relatively easy to transport and will fit in your vehicle. It's also a good idea to make sure you can assemble your scope in low light.
The majority of scopes do not require a great deal of maintenance but if you wish to keep your telescope in good condition make sure you look after it. Don't force screws or bolts and ensure you keep mirrors and lenses properly aligned.
Find a safe place to store your telescope when it is not in use. Covering it up to prevent dirt and dust getting into it.
Prices of telescopes vary significantly depending on the type and quality. Decide on the type of telescope, that will best serve your needs, then narrow it down to quality and price.
If your are considering upgrading to a 12 inch telescope or larger you will probably require a more permanent home, although there are a number of large collapsible scopes that can be broken down to allow for relatively easy transportation.
New and Used Telescopes
Both Amazon And eBay carry a range of new and used from many of the leading manufacturers including Meade and Celestron, and you may well be fortunate to pick yourself a bargain. Visitors from the USA, UK,Canada and Australia are well catered for.
Refractors or Reflectors?
The two main categories of telescope are refracting and reflecting which are further subdivided into subcategories, and you may want to read further to see the difference between the two.
Both the reflector telescope and refractor telescope have their strengths and weaknesses but they all have a common function, that is to gather and focus light from distant objects to produce a bright magnified image.
The Celestron, Meade, Orion and Skywatcher 6" or 8" reflectors are all good and offer a good viewing experience.
A couple of videos below give a further insight in what to expect from various telepscopes.
Here are some broad costs for some common telescopes:
Small Reflectors - $250 to $1000, Achromatic Reflectors - $250 to $1000, Large Reflectors - $300 to $2000, Compound Telescopes - $1000 to $3000, and Apochromatic Refractors - $2000 to $10,000.
Costs could rise substantially if you are buying a telescope with a 'Goto System'
Keep in mind that telescope tripods and mounts too are important components. Choosing a larger scope will inevitably require a sturdier mount to keep it on. You won't want to skimp here, as it could make or break your viewing pleasure...... literally!