What the heck is a spotting scope?


I can’t count the number of times that I’ve talked to someone on my sale floor who comes in looking for a telescope and ends up walking out with a spotting scope.

Usually they are looking for something they can use at the home or cottage to look out over an open field at wildlife, across open water or into one of the many harbours or bays all along our shoreline.

They think the only thing that will give them a good close look is a telescope, and while it is true you can accomplish this with a telescope, it probably isn’t the most ideal thing to use.

A spotting scope is in reality just a small refracting telescope, but there are a number of differences that make it a better choice for land-based viewing. First, the perspective is not like that of a telescope (upside down and backwards) but looks correct both left to right and up and down. Second, spotting scopes generally come with variable focal length eyepieces. This means you can zoom in and out on a subject, bringing it closer by just turning a ring on the eyepiece. Third, all of the spotting scopes we sell are waterproof so you can take them out in the rain or snow and not have to be worried about getting them wet.

Just like anything else there are good, better and best types of spotting scopes and you can spend from a couple hundred to a few thousand on a spotting scope. For three or four hundred dollars you can get a scope that will last for years to come.

Stop by the store some time and have a look at our Celestron spotting scopes. We’ve got three or four different models in stock at different price points and have one of our staff give you a quick demonstration. They’re fun, easy to use and yes, you can use them to look at the night sky. Looking at the moon through a decent spotting scope is still amazing.