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Got your sights set on the stars? Before you put down any cash to buy a telescope, put in the time to research what's out there. This telescope buying guide will help you get started in figuring out what piece of stargazing equipment might be best for your needs.
• Read as much material on telescopes as you can, including product reviews, manufacturer marketing material, and telescope buying guide books.
• Learn what the basic inner workings of a telescope are to determine what product will meet your needs. Do you know what an aperture is or the focal length is on a telescope? Finding out how a telescope works will determine the specifications you need when you buy a telescope.
• Take some time to test out a telescope before you make the actual purchase. The best place to get a good grasp of a range of models is by contacting your local astronomy club and finding out when the next public observation date is. You'll have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and observe telescopes in use.
• Find a reputable telescope dealer to get a knowledgeable resource to make your purchase from. A reputable telescope dealer will ask about your interests and level of expertise in astronomy.