This is an exciting time in which to become an amateur astronomer. Never before have novice stargazers been presented with such a vast array of telescopes and accessories to pursue their hobby. Naturally, this brings the burden of choice: a bewildering variety of instruments makes it difficult for the uninformed consumer to make the right decision.
There are three basic types of telescopes; refractors, reflectors (often called Newtonian reflectors), and Catadioptrics. Each telescope type has the same purpose, to collect light and bring it to a point of focus so it can be magnified and examined with an eyepiece, but each design does it differently. Different designs are best suited to different applications, each has advantages and disadvantages; unfortunately, there is no single “best” telescope.
Before you buy anything, you must determine what's important to you. What do you want to look at, where will you observe from, how experienced an observer are you, and how much to you want to spend? Answer these key questions and you'll be well on your way towards acquiring a scope that will satisfy you for years to come.
Choosing a particular telescope depends on your individual needs including cost, portability, versatility, usability, appearance, etc. You should also contemplate what you plan to do with the instrument both now and in the future. Many amateurs own two or more telescopes to satisfy their varied interests. We will ask you a few questions and will then be able to recommend a few different options to you.