If you're looking to get the biggest telescope for your money you will consider second hand telescopes. The biggest market for these, by far, is eBay, where you can browse many different sizes and manufacturers at very keen prices.
This guide has been written for those who may worry about taking the potentially risky step of buying optical instrumentation off eBay.
I watch YouTube videos and trawl the web to see what optical equipment other people are advising their viewers/readers to buy, in the course of maintaining my website and watching out for good
advice sites. I am amazed by the number of ignorant people who state
“Do not waste your money on a telescope from eBay. They're ALL poor!”
This seems a very wrong way to advise people about the excellent opportunity they have of buying a good telescope from a reliable source.
Their prejudice possibly stems from a bad experience or hearsay - On the other hand, you'd feel a bit of a wally if you'd spent £1,000 on instrumentation and some joker, like me for instance, had just bought the same thing for £200... Sour grapes - It happens, even among astronomers.
I have bought good telescopes from eBay in the past that have been very good value for money and excellent quality. It might also be prudent to mention that I have never bought a bad telescope from an eBay seller. (And that I have bought somewhere in the region of thirty!)
I have also sold telescopes that were in 'as new' condition and I even delivered and set up one telescope for free. Now, my question to these scare-mongers is – Are you saying that I give a bad service or sold bad telescopes? Are they sure that 'ALL' telescopes on eBay are poor?
Left: This is an eBay purchase. A 150P in Perfect condition on SkyScan2001 Mount. £100
My friend Paul Money is an equipment reviewer for the BBC's Sky at Night Magazine: He stated in a review that the SkyMax180Pro is the best planetary telescope he has ever used. This telescope is available new direct from telescope suppliers on eBay...
Does that mean that this fantastic telescope is not good?
Does it mean that my very experienced and well respected friend, Paul, is wrong?
Or, does it mean that the blanket statement about buying telescopes from eBay is just a load of scaremongering bull?
Minimizing the risk:
What you have to do, when buying anything from eBay, is to look very carefully at the item and the seller. This information is easy to find and takes a few minutes to assess. If the item is brand new in box, you can be reasonably sure it will be very good (As long as the manufacturer is good and the specification is what you need).
You can check on the seller's performance quite easily and avoid sellers who have had problems delivering their promises in the past. If the item is second hand, you have to do a bit of research...
What to look out for:
Second hand telescopes can be just as good as new ones, only at a much lower price. For the beginner this can be crucial and an opportunity not to be missed (Far from the opportunity to be avoided at all costs, according to the doom-sayers on-line!)
It may be that you can afford a brand new 120mm Newtonian, which is a very so-so instrument if you're a serious about the hobby, but you can afford a 150mm telescope listed on eBay. The 150mm telescope would be a much better start in the hobby than the 120mm limited application telescope. Remember, do your homework on the telescope specification and the seller's reputation.