A guide to Used Telescopes

5 Tips to help you find and buy a used telescope

Buying a used telescope can be a very smart thing to do! You can sometimes get a great bargain. There is a very common reason for this, telescopes take a little bit of skill and a little bit of practice and often times a person will buy a telescope and just use it a couple of times. It ends up sitting in the closet or the basement for years just gathering dust. Eventually the person considers selling it for some quick cash. Why not, right? It isn’t being used.

This is where you can swoop in and get a good deal.

So, Let me give you a few tips when it comes to buying a used telescope. There are a few things I will look at including sizes, types and brand names of various telescopes.

Tip #1: The Name Brand is important! There are lot of companies that make and sell telescopes. Some are good and some are not so good! Pretty much the same with anything you buy. I recommend you stick with telescopes from three different companies: Orion, Celestron, and Meade. These are all well established companies that have been making quality telescopes for many years. You can have a certain level of confidence when buying telescopes made by these companies.

There are other companies that do make good quality telescopes but I can strongly recommend these three and there are plenty of used ones out there! Should be no problem at all finding scopes from these brands.

Tip #2: Try to find out exactly what the telescope has. The options on a scope are much like the options on a car. They can make a very big difference in the value.

Every little number and letter in the name of a telescope is significant! They all mean something very important like the type of scope, the type of mount, size of the lens or mirror or other things. You are probably going to want to look the telescope up to see what it sells for brand new. And those extra letters and numbers are so important. Be sure to look up the exact telescope with all the options. A bare bones eight inch telescope can sell for 300 dollars. But add options to it and it can easily sell for 1500 dollars! See what I mean? Yet both telescopes are eight inches in size.

Tip #3: Use the telescope if possible!

In todays internet world you might not be able to do this but if you possibly can ask if you can use the telescope. Go over the sellers house and take it out into the yard. It doesn’ t have to be at night! You can still get a sense for how the optics are working by looking around the neighborhood.

Tip #4: Even if you know nothing about telescopes you still can. . .

Yup,even if you know nothing about telescopes you still can gather a lot of common sense information. How does it look? Is it dinged, scratched, rusted? Do all the parts move freely and smoothly? Can you easily move the telescope on its tripod or mount? It should be very smooth and easy. Do the eyepieces fit easily inside the eyepiece holder? Does the eyepiece slide smoothly in and out? Is the main lens or mirror clean?

Tip #5: Stay within telescope types when comparing prices. All six inch telescopes are not made equal! A six inch newtonian reflector would cost around two hundred dollars brand new but a six inch refractor would cost you several thousand dollars brand new. This goes for all the types of telescopes. There are four major types (In general order of expense): Dobsonian, Reflector, Refractor, and Catadioptric .And you can’t comparison shop across these types in terms of price. When looking for price/value comparison you have to stay within the same type of telescope.

Bonus tip: Ask for help and advice from experienced telescope users. Feel free to send me an email if you have questions. And there are plenty of online forums for astronomy and telescope enthusiasts. You should check out these forums and even post questions.

Options for where to buy your used telescope

Ok, I have given you some advice on how to buy a used telescope now here are some resources on where to buy!

eBay – This is a phenomenal resource. They have everything and on any one day you will find thousands of telescopes in all different types, styles, makes and price ranges

I have real time updated ebay listings right here on my website. You can browse through the various brands of telescopes without leaving my site:

  • Mega listing of Telescopes and telescope stuff on ebay – here is a big listing if you just want to browse for bargains
  • Celestron Telescopes – one of the oldest and most respected makers of telescopes. You can find some great Celestron telescopes on ebay including vintage ones from the 70’s which I am always on the hunt for.
  • Meade Telescopes – Meade is one of the finest makers of telescopes and there are always hundreds of them available on ebay.
  • Orion telescopes – Orion is another maker of telescopes. They tend to be less expensive than celestron or Mead. They cater to a more casual observer and backyard astronomer.
  • Dobsonian Telescopes – A dobsonian telescope is by its very design a bargain priced instrument that gives you a lot of telescope for the money. But if you watch ebay you can sometimes find some incredible bargains

Craigslist – Not as extensive as ebay but you do have the option of looking closer to where you live which means you may be able to get your hands on the telescope before you buy it. Note: I have an article with tips you should read before buying a telescope on craigslist.

AstroMart: This is an astronomy related website with an active forum and a classified section where people sell telescopes and all sorts of astronomy related materials. I can’t exactly vouch for the site because I have never bought anything but it looks pretty good to me.