Astronomy Myth #4- Magnification is the most important aspect to consider when buying a telescope

Well, magnification is important, but only up to a point. Moreover, it is possible to magnify any celestial object up to 1000 times, regardless of the aperture of the telescope, but the reality is that at such high magnifications, the image breaks down completely, again regardless of the aperture.

High magnification has the effect of spreading out the light from the object, which through a telescope eyepiece, has the effect of narrowing the field of view to such an extent that all detail is lost. High magnifications also magnify atmospheric disturbances, which in some cases, can prevent an observer from seeing anything except a field of swirling light patterns, and most often not even that.

While some seeing conditions allow magnifications of up to 200 times, the most effective magnification is only about 150 times. What is far more important when buying a telescope is the aperture, and thus the amount of light the instrument can gather. Unaided human vision perceives objects in real time, but a telescope can collect much more light, and “store” it in the mirror which makes faint objects, that are invisible to unaided vision, visible when the light path passes through all the optical elements in both the telescope and the eyepiece.