Most amateur astronomers, myself included, immediately become enthralled with magnification.  One of the most common starting scopes is the widely popular 8" SCT.  At 2000mm focal length, the usually provided 25mm Plossl eyepiece provides 80x magnification, with a 0.6 degree field of view.  The details you see, and can image, can be fantastic, but the object is normally taken completely taken out of context.  Then we buy shorter eyepieces, and/or a Barlow, to increase the magnification and the context of the object is totally overlooked.  A few years ago I obtained a Short Tube 80.  At 400mm focal length, with the provided 20mm Achromatic eyepiece, you have 20x magnification and a full degree field of view.  What a difference.  You don't see much detail, but the awesome majesty of the object in its surrounding is impressive.  Instead of seeing a small piece of M31 - Andromeda Galaxy, you now see M31, M32 and M110, all in the same field of view.  Wow.  Not only does it put the objects in a better context, but it also makes you feel kind of small.  I understand why some folks prefer binoculars for their viewing.

I am in no way knocking the longer scopes, in fact you will notice that most of my scopes run towards the longer side, but I do suggest that you also pick up a short tube scope or binoculars, and frequently enjoy a wider field of view to put both the objects and yourself back into context.


My first "real" scope, the venerable Celestron 114.  The mount was very shaky and the focuser was pretty rough, but the things I saw with this scope.  I gave it to my nephew a few years ago.


Advanced GT-8





Explore Scientific

AR 102


ETX 90

LX-200 10" 6.3

Lightbridge 8"


Short Tube 80




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