(IAAC) [SHALLOW] Options for Beginners, etc.

Obviously, small aperture instruments have certain advantages just as do large ones.
I certainly don't agree that at least a 12" is required to do serious observing.  Remember
what Galileo and Messier used to make their historic observations.  Consider the exploits of
noted Californian observer Jay Reynolds Freeman who recently completed the Herschel 400 with
a 55mm Vixen refractor!  Also, there are a number of DSO's that are too large to appreciate
with the typical field of view of larger instruments.  Here a rich-field telescope works
wonders.  However, for every large object there are thousands of small, dim objects that
require large apertures and high magnifications.  On the other hand, planetary and lunar
observing don't require a 30" Dob.
As far as high end equipment goes, it is a fact that telescope manufacturers make their real
profits in the low end market through high volume.
Beginners do have other options than buying department store junk.  They can join an
astronomy club and use club scopes if available.  They can learn the sky with binoculars.
They can build their own telescopes.  And there are a few good inexpensive starter scopes
If magazine subscriptions are any indication there are more amateur astronomers today than
ever before.
Dave Mitsky
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