Buying your first telescope


Good! You have decided to buy a first telescope for yourself, your spouse, or your child. You type a few keywords on Google and  you soon realize that it’s a little more complicated than you thought. Which model will allow me to see the universe without it costing an arm and a leg?

The answer is the one you don’t want to hear: It depends …

If you live on the 3rd floor and you have to lug the whole kit to the car to go star-gazing, your most important consideration is probably the weight of the equipment. There are small telescopes that will allow you perfectly to see the Moon and the larger planets. If, however, you have access to a dark sky at the cabin and the telescope will stay there, you can afford a larger and more powerful model to see nebulae and galaxies.

You don’t know how to find your way around the sky and would like an automated telescope with a joystick or a paddle that will find it all for you? That certainly exists, but it is a little more expensive. There are all kinds of factors to be considered that vary according to each telescope buyer’s needs, wishes and budget. So, I prepared a small table which brings together the main types of telescopes and what they will each allow you to see.

New on the market: Smart telescopes!

Are you interested in a telescope that can be easily transported, that finds any celestial objects you ask for, that takes a photo and then saves it on your smartphone?

A new category of instruments has just entered the market and is creating a real revolution. Expect to pay between $600 and $4,000 to acquire one of these little technological marvels. You will find on this link, a catalog of available models: Smart telescopes

I can confirm from personal experience that all of these telescopes work really well and represent a valid option, depending on your expectations.

For those who want to do serious astrophotography, these instruments lack the light gathering power that is required but that is not what they are designed for. If you want to see the brightest nebulae and galaxies, in color, and show them to your friends and family on a screen, then this is for you! Even for amateur astronomers who want to hold public events and show the main celestial objects without wasting time, on a phone screen or tablet this is the ideal solution.

Some people prefer to look in a more traditional way by placing their eye on the eyepiece of a telescope. These instruments are not designed for that and do not have the necessary power either. In any telescope, the Moon, Sun, and larger planets like Jupiter and Saturn are bright enough to see fascinating details. But for deep sky objects like nebulae and galaxies, no telescope allows the eye to distinguish details and colors like we see in photos. Only photography with long exposure times allows enough light to be accumulated to fully reveal its splendor. This is often a disappointment for new followers. Larger telescopes are needed to collect enough light from these distant objects for the human eye to distinguish them without the help of a camera sensor. These new intelligent telescopes therefore make it possible to circumvent this problem by accumulating rapid photos, processing them instantly to improve the contrast and increase their brightness. Long live technology!

A word of advice!


In order to avoid being quickly disappointed and not knowing in which direction to point the telescope, you should first learn to find your way around the sky. A star finder (cardboard or electronic), a pair of binoculars, and several sessions of finding constellations in the sky will allow you to become familiar with the sky and more quickly find the stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies you are looking for. It is less frustrating if you start to learn your way around BEFORE purchasing your first telescope!

Where to buy ?

There are four astronomical equipment dealers in the Montreal area and one in the Quebec area. I personally know the owners of those in the Montreal area and I can confirm that they are trustworthy and have customer service at the heart of their concern. You will receive sound advice there.

In the Montréal area:


Jean-Christophe Giney will guide you and offer you a quick delivery on a selection of equipment dedicated to the observation of nature and the sky.

Astronomy Plus

Browsing through this boutique’s web site will reveal the vast array of equipment that they have acces to and whet your appetite for some dreamy equipment for the future! They also carry a full line of beginner telescopes as well.

David Astro

David Brodeur is setting his marks with his deep technical knowledge and his ability to find products that may be in short suply elsewhere. He is always eager to help and is very well appreciated by amateur astronomers.

La Maison de l'Astronomie

This well known store displays a large inventory and has a good selection of beginner equipment.. Their staff takes the time to discuss your needs and to offer appropriate suggestions

In Québec City:

Boutique Le Naturaliste, Place de la cité, 2600 boulevard Laurier, Québec


Outside of Québec:

There are a few retailers in other Canadian provinces and a multitude in the United States. In the latter case, the prices displayed on their website may seem tempting but you must add the currency conversion, transport, taxes and customs clearance fees which are sometimes added depending on the carrier used.


Used equipment:

Fédération des Astronoomes Amateurs du Québec, Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, Canada-wide Astronomy Buy & Sell, In addition, the stores previously mentioned will occasionnaly have used equipment for sale. Check it out!