need telescope buying advice
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01-04-2014, 06:28 AM
need telescope buying advice
I have a budding 10 year old who wants to be an astrophysicist. I have always enjoyed stargazing (I was lucky that my older brother was really into telescopes, rockets, etc).

I have started asking my brother his advice, but he doesn't seem to understand the things I'm looking for opposed to the things he enjoys.

He has been single, no kids his entire life, when he gets a hobby he sinks money into it, can spend hours and days on end and all his free time delving into the little details of his new hobby. That's not me, and that's not my family. I've got kids, chaos, short bursts of time, I am trying to spark wonder and curiosity and dreams (not flush out every spec of detail).

In some ways its like people with cars in an manual vs automatic. I heard people say "you get more power with a manual, you get better control" which..yeah, ok. But you have to keep pushing that pedal, keep moving the gearshift. I just like getting in the car and going- I don't need to fiddle with all the 'stuff'.



So when we talk about astronomy..... my brother says-- go find a really dark place and hour from where I live, and I say....I can't....we have to deal with suburban backyard light pollution. Because its bedtime in 3 hours and the kids have school tomorrow. My brother says learn all these star charts and maps and how to fiddle this, that and the other, and get up at 3am. And I say-- I don't have all freakin' night to fool with this....I have kids, we sleep at 3am usually. I want to set up and go, and not have to fool with tracking in between each kid getting a peek, etc. I can find quite a few constellations and planets (I'm not a complete idiot), and willing to do some set up and learn more, but we are coming at this from two completely points of view.

So....hopefully I've made it clear that we are looking for the FUN of astronomy and at this point not delving into spending months on end trying to figure out how to see Mars. If my child can get excited then later they will delve deeper into all the details, right now, I need quick, easy, wow factor..... and of course, I'm not made of money and I know scopes get expensive pretty fast.

I'm in the suburbs of Charlotte, so I have a decent amount of light pollution. I am thinking I want the computerized-but there seems to be some variety and I don't know the details. Auto tracking would be nice, because 4 of us would be taking turns once we locate something and it would be nice not to have to continually adjust-especially with kids. And kids want to see lots of different things, not just intently study one thing. We are the short attention span family. Wink

what would you suggest? what are some reputable places for purchase?


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01-04-2014, 06:48 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 06:28 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  I have a budding 10 year old who wants to be an astrophysicist. I have always enjoyed stargazing (I was lucky that my older brother was really into telescopes, rockets, etc).

I have started asking my brother his advice, but he doesn't seem to understand the things I'm looking for opposed to the things he enjoys.

He has been single, no kids his entire life, when he gets a hobby he sinks money into it, can spend hours and days on end and all his free time delving into the little details of his new hobby. That's not me, and that's not my family. I've got kids, chaos, short bursts of time, I am trying to spark wonder and curiosity and dreams (not flush out every spec of detail).

In some ways its like people with cars in an manual vs automatic. I heard people say "you get more power with a manual, you get better control" which..yeah, ok. But you have to keep pushing that pedal, keep moving the gearshift. I just like getting in the car and going- I don't need to fiddle with all the 'stuff'.



So when we talk about astronomy..... my brother says-- go find a really dark place and hour from where I live, and I say....I can't....we have to deal with suburban backyard light pollution. Because its bedtime in 3 hours and the kids have school tomorrow. My brother says learn all these star charts and maps and how to fiddle this, that and the other, and get up at 3am. And I say-- I don't have all freakin' night to fool with this....I have kids, we sleep at 3am usually. I want to set up and go, and not have to fool with tracking in between each kid getting a peek, etc. I can find quite a few constellations and planets (I'm not a complete idiot), and willing to do some set up and learn more, but we are coming at this from two completely points of view.

So....hopefully I've made it clear that we are looking for the FUN of astronomy and at this point not delving into spending months on end trying to figure out how to see Mars. If my child can get excited then later they will delve deeper into all the details, right now, I need quick, easy, wow factor..... and of course, I'm not made of money and I know scopes get expensive pretty fast.

I'm in the suburbs of Charlotte, so I have a decent amount of light pollution. I am thinking I want the computerized-but there seems to be some variety and I don't know the details. Auto tracking would be nice, because 4 of us would be taking turns once we locate something and it would be nice not to have to continually adjust-especially with kids. And kids want to see lots of different things, not just intently study one thing. We are the short attention span family. Wink

what would you suggest? what are some reputable places for purchase?

Logisch is probably a great source of info on this...maybe shoot him a PM.

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01-04-2014, 07:37 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
It sounds like you definitely need auto-tracking (just tell it Jupiter, and it turns to Jupiter). I have a manual telescope, and locking in on an object can be a pain in the ass. One tiny bump, and you spend another ten minutes relocating. With multiple kids all vying to get a look, it will be bumped.
Strongly consider one that will allow you to photograph. Having pictures to hang in his bedroom or share with friends will certainly encourage your son's interest further.
Do some Google searches to narrow down what you want, perhaps but online if it's a good price. Try Radio Shack or other specialty retailers.

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01-04-2014, 07:44 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
I looked into this about a year ago, but never ended up making a purchase. It's probably worth considering up front exactly what you intend to look at and what you can feasibly see. Here are a couple of guides:
* https://www.astronomics.com/what-can-you...ope_t.aspx
* http://www.deepastronomy.com/best-telescope.html

I'm not sure you actually need computerisation or anything complicated unless you are planning to do long-exposure photography. Are you planning to photograph or just to look?

If you are just there for the looking I suggest equipping your smartphone with a guide to the heavens, to at least make sure you are pointing in the direction you think you are:
* https://play.google.com/store/apps/detai....stardroid

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01-04-2014, 07:50 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 07:37 AM)Jeffasaurus Wrote:  It sounds like you definitely need auto-tracking (just tell it Jupiter, and it turns to Jupiter). I have a manual telescope, and locking in on an object can be a pain in the ass. One tiny bump, and you spend another ten minutes relocating. With multiple kids all vying to get a look, it will be bumped.
Strongly consider one that will allow you to photograph. Having pictures to hang in his bedroom or share with friends will certainly encourage your son's interest further.
Do some Google searches to narrow down what you want, perhaps but online if it's a good price. Try Radio Shack or other specialty retailers.

THIS. Get an auto-tracking mount. I also highly recommend a telescope that you can attach a camera to, but it's not important if you don't care about taking pictures.

I cannot say enough for how much better an auto-track telescope is. I haven't researched cost in a while, but it was worth the extra investment. Being able to tell it what object I want to look at and the have it continually track it is amazing. Wanna get a good look at saturn's rings? Trying to keep a manual scope pointed at a planet is a pain in the ass. You'll finally get it centered and sharp, and by the time someone else gets to take a look, it's out of frame again.

Being able to take pictures with an auto track telescope is fantastic as well. Sky shots require a long exposure time and the stars will streak pretty badly on even a short (30 second) shot. having a mount that allows you to shoot through the telescope, or mount the camera for a full sky shot gives you beautiful, crisp, clear shots at any exposure length.

Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense. You're just not keeping up.

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01-04-2014, 08:15 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
You might like to start with a quality pair of binoculars. If you get any equipment, don't cheap out, it is a waste of money. Buy the best you can afford.

The Sky & Telescope site has useful info.

Good, affordable telescopes that might meet your criteria:

Meade ETX

Celestron NexStar



You are welcome to PM me if you'd like more info.

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01-04-2014, 08:50 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 08:15 AM)Chas Wrote:  You might like to start with a quality pair of binoculars. If you get any equipment, don't cheap out, it is a waste of money. Buy the best you can afford.

The Sky & Telescope site has useful info.

Good, affordable telescopes that might meet your criteria:

Meade ETX

Celestron NexStar



You are welcome to PM me if you'd like more info.

the tracking and locating is exactly what I'm looking for. How would the two that you posted be different from this one? I realize the type of scope is different, but I don't know how that plays out in what I see when I look at stars. In terms of my experience-- will the view be different in some way? These are all roughly in the same neighborhood price-wise, all are offering the auto find, and auto tracking. I'm trying to figure out why I would choose one over the other in terms of the experience.


Nexstar 102mm SLT refractor


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01-04-2014, 08:58 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
Logisch helped me a lot when I first joined the forum. I still haven't pulled the trigger on getting one, but he was real helpful. I wish I had someone who would let me borrow one to see if it's something I will want to continue doing instead of just plunking down cash to find out later I don't want to keep using it.

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01-04-2014, 09:05 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
Astrophysicist, eh?
You , might want to get him/her Kerbal Space Program instead of a telescope.
It costs much less than a telescope. ($27.00)

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01-04-2014, 09:15 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 08:58 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  Logisch helped me a lot when I first joined the forum. I still haven't pulled the trigger on getting one, but he was real helpful. I wish I had someone who would let me borrow one to see if it's something I will want to continue doing instead of just plunking down cash to find out later I don't want to keep using it.

We are going to a star party Friday at the nearby university. My daughter has met the director of the observatory and she's kind of invited her under her wing. I am hoping there are others there with scopes we can look thru as well. But I wanted to have a bit of knowledge before checking them out so I know what to look for.

google observatories and clubs near you.....many have a monthly star party open to the public.


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