With Amazon Prime Day just around the corner, Amazon and a handful of other online retailers are going to be offering up some amazing deals on telescopes and equipment. It can be daunting scouring through all the deals, especially if you don't quite know what you're looking for, or if you don't know where the best deals are or how to find them.
As many of us are going through a 'cost of living crisis', finding great discounts and ways to save money is much more of a consideration for consumers than usual. Here we've put together this handy guide to finding the best discounts, cheeky tricks that retailers use, tips for shopping around and knowing what to look for when buying your next piece of kit.
Find the best discounts
It goes without saying that we all want to find the best discounts this Prime Day. There are some amazing offers on telescopes and equipment, but it can be hard to find the best ones. Before you rush in with that 'Buy Now' button, take a step back and have a good, thorough look at everything on offer. Check out the different telescopes that different manufacturers are offering, and consider which models would be best suited to you and your viewing needs. Not sure where to start? Try out our guide to the best telescopes for beginners, best telescopes for kids, or for the budget-conscious best telescopes under $500. It's also good to compare the percentage drop in each listing to see how much you're really saving.
If you can, be mindful of what the original RRP was, as sometimes sellers will inflate the price just before the sales hit. This gives the illusion of an amazing deal when in actual fact, the 'sale' price isn't much less than the original RRP. If you know what you want to purchase ahead of the sales, make a note of what the price is now so you can compare it to the discounted price later on.
Make sure you search around
Many retailers run their own deals to compete with Amazon around Prime Day, so don't discount them (pun not intended). As Amazon takes a cut from its sellers, their prices may end up being higher than other retailers online, even after the discounts. Sometimes other online retailers, and even visiting stores in person can get you better discounts, so make sure you check all your options before you make a purchase.
There's nothing worse than spending a big chunk of money on something only to discover it cheaper somewhere else. Check out our best telescope deals page for the best deals ahead of Amazon Prime Day — we track prices from a wide range of retailers to make sure you get the best deals possible.
Keep an eye out for kits
Kits can be a great way to save money and get everything you need in one go, particularly if this is your first telescope. As a beginner, it's a bit daunting if you don't know which pieces of kit you need to get you started, so definitely consider getting a kit with everything included.
As well as the actual scope itself, telescope kits can include tripods, mounts, Barlow lenses, eyepieces, carry bags, among other accessories which can be great value when purchased all at once. Get a bundle like this and you'll know you've got everything you need to start stargazing. This is a great option for beginners or young star gazers.
Consider your needs
You know what they say — it's only a bargain if you actually need it. Consider if and where there are gaps in your telescope kit, or if there's anything you particularly want to replace or upgrade - because now's the time to do it! There's no point buying something 'just because it's cheap' if you're only going to replace it a year or so down the line. If there's a specific telescope or accessory you have in mind, try to narrow down all the features and characteristics that you need. This will make it easier to spot the best deals when prime day comes around as you'll already know what you're looking for.
Think about your viewing requirements, and what you actually use your telescope for. If you're more of a casual viewer, something like a lower cost refractor with a manual mount would be an excellent starter scope. Whereas, if you're wanting to get into the world of astrophotography you're going to need to invest a bit more into a more sophisticated telescope and a motorized mount that can handle long-exposure photography.
It's also worth checking out the reviews of the item you're thinking of purchasing. We have a bunch of telescope reviews from a wide range of astronomy experts right here at Space.com so be sure to search here for our thoughts first.
The Amazon reviews from other customers can be helpful and you could also check out the more in-depth reviews on YouTube showing the product in action. When searching through YouTube though, be sure to find experts' and professional astronomers' reviews as these tend to be a more reliable and objective opinion than looking through customer reviews. Reading reviews will help you shop smarter to get the best bang for your buck.
There are plenty of simple things you can do to spot good deals, too. Filter your search by price if you have a specific budget and you won't be tempted to overspend. You could also check out the lightning deals for some extra savings. Cashback websites can offer decent discounts and if you do go with a different online retailer, many of them offer a discount on your first purchase when you sign up to their mailing list. There's currently a global supply issue with telescope production and distribution, so it's also worth looking at delivery times.