If you are looking for a cheap starter telescope, one of the most appropriate brands is Tasco. Even the most expensive Tasco telescopes sell for less than £195, an impressive price compared with other telescopes that can run into the thousands of dollars. Tasco telescopes are not noted for their high quality, but you can use your economical telescope as well as possible if you know what to do with it.
Choosing the Right Telescope
Successfully using a Tasco telescope requires choosing the telescope that matches your interest. Tasco makes excellent, low-cost telescopes for children. These telescopes are cheap, sturdy and provide an introduction to star gazing. The 301051N telescope, for example, has a 35x magnification and costs less than £26.
Tasco's basic telescopes are also good if you want to primarily observe the moon and brighter planets like Jupiter. The 301051N and the Novice 402x60 refracting telescope, which costs about £58, are good for such observations. These telescopes do not have the best optics, but they are excellent for quick observations of bright objects.
For deep-sky viewing, you need a better telescope. Tasco's higher-end telescopes, the Spacestation models, are still under £195 and provide as much as 675x magnification.
The first thing you should do is read the instruction manual. All telescopes come with the manual, or you can search for the appropriate manual online. Look for the specifics of how your telescope functions and the help with troubleshooting.
Before you make nighttime observations, it is a good idea to calibrate your telescope during the daytime. Pick a distant object to aim your telescope. Look through your telescope's view finder, attached to the top of the tube, to find the object. Most finders have a 2x magnification, so it should be easy to spot your object and to centre it in the finder's crosshairs. Look through your telescope. If you cannot see the object, adjust the finder and try again. When your finder has the object in the crosshairs and you can see the object in your telescope, the telescope is aligned.
Check your tripod. Tasco telescopes come with attached tripods, but many are shaky. Shaky tripods can ruin observations, so make sure the telescope is attached as firmly as possible. You may need to tighten some screws.
Finally, test your lenses and accessories. Lenses are of different qualities (some high-magnification lenses provide poor images), so you should familiarise yourself with each lens. Get used to the focus mechanism so that your images will be clear when you observe.
Find a dark location to set up your telescope. You should bring along a star chart and a red-coloured flashlight to read the chart and to make adjustments.
Start out by observing a bright object like the moon or a planet. Make sure your finder and telescope are aligned, as it is easy to knock out of alignment the finder on a Tasco telescope. Use the moon for realignment. Begin observations using lenses of low magnification. Once you have centred your object, you can switch the telescope to higher magnification lenses. Remember to move your telescope periodically, as the Earth's rotation will shift objects out of your field of view in a short amount of time. Also keep in mind that telescopes invert images (unless you have a special lens to fix this).