Any stargazers here?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Abulia, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #1
    Figured this is as good place as any for some recommendations. My daughter is turning 5 this next week and one gift I want to get her is a telescope. She thinks the stars are pretty cool. :)

    Now I'm not trying to turn her into the next Carl Sagan, however she is very smart and I'm all for getting her into an educational hobby.

    Downside is that I know little about astronomy or telescopes. Well, scratch that, I've been reading and studying up on what's important (reflector vs refractor, apature size, etc) but I still feel kinda lost.

    So, any recommendations on a starter telescope that won't break the bank? (Less than $200.)
     
  2. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #2
    I used to be very into stargazing when I was younger, and even have a very basic telescope somewhere. (It was the cheapest I could find 20 years ago, but it still did/does the trick).

    Kind of lost interest when I lived in a 1. floor apartment downtown for many years, but have now moved to somewhere that's a bit better... maybe I'll take up again that hobby... I broke the stand for my cheap telescope years ago but have been using it with my photo stand, which kind of works. Thanks for reminding me... :)

    Now, for cheap telescopes, I quick search on Amazon showed that you can get plenty of telescopes much cheaper than $200 (much more expensive, too). I would get a fairly cheap one at first, then if it's a hit invest in a more "professional". Maybe one that can take pictures (either built in or by allowing you to attach a camera).

    I'm actually tempted to get me one of the cheaper one, like this one, for myself, just to get a fresh start... :) but I fear shipping and Norwegian VAT will make it unobtainable at the moment... :eek: :( Edit: well, since Amazon won't ship the telescope out of US that effectively solved that "problem"... ;)
     
  3. EGT macrumors 68000

    EGT

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    #3
    I gaze into the heavens whenever I can. Tonight is a particularly good night here. A few weeks ago I sat for ages looking at the full moon rising with bright Jupiter following behind. It's great seeing meteors flying about as well. Pretty cool stuff.

    I'm no expert but I can pick out some constellations and planets with the aid of binoculars and that's about it. I have my dad's old telescope but it's not good at all, slightly damaged so I hardly ever use it. I'm looking to get a new one too but haven't decided which to buy.

    I think a telescope would be a pretty cool gift. Who knows, she might discover a comet or asteroid someday. :cool:
     
  4. UKnjb macrumors 6502a

    UKnjb

    Joined:
    May 23, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #4
    I used to have a 'starter' telescope - tripod and white barrel and stuff - and it was good for lookign at the moon - just. However, it was only recently when I looked though a friend's more up-market telescope that the awesomeness of what's out there became apparent. To see, crystal clear, the rings of Saturn was a life-changing event for me. And your daughter is not going to see those things through a low-market telescope.

    If you have an interest in getting her interested, my advice is to pay out some extra and be interested yourself. She will pick up on your interest and develop it from there. Trust me, just watching some inferior shots of the moon gets dull farily quickly.

    Can you not get hold of a friend of a friend who has a 'good' telescope, borrow it for a while to test-drive yourself and your daughter before going for it? That is what I would do at this stage FWIW.

    Good luck to her, though! And you!
     
  5. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #5
    I almost bought a telescope, bought my iMac instead. :p

    Here's what I can remember:

    Good Brands - Meade, Orion, and Celestron (among others)

    Refractor is "better" but Reflector is cheaper. It also matters what you want to look at. I believe Refractor is better for planets and reflector is better for stars, galaxies, nebulae , etc.
    You can generally get a much larger reflector telescope for the same price as a smaller refractor.
    There are also some hybrid models (e.g. Schmidt-Cassesgrain) - generally more expensive.
    For the beginner/intermediate user, I would recommend reflector.

    Unfortunately, $200 doesn't get you very far when it comes to telescopes. UKnjb may be on the right track, but on the other hand, if $200 is the most you can spend, you can do plenty with a $200 telescope. It all depends on your/your daughter's interest.
     
  6. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #6
    Well $200 is the limit that I set. She's 5 and this could be an expensive paperweight within 2 months time. :)

    I'm not above paying more, it's just that I need to start out with realistic expectations, especially with a 5-year old.
     
  7. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #7
    try to get a meade ETX70AT. it's replaced by the 80AT so you could get a deal.

    the advantage is it has the automatic starfinder system. it positions the telescope for you to the planets or stars you want. so no searching starmaps. exactly what you need for kids.

    you may be able to get the 70AT for 200 bucks. the 80at is $279.
     
  8. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #8
    Just a warning; sometimes those automatic telescopes can be harder to use than a normal telescope.

    The last star party I went to, the one person with an automatic telescope was still trying to set it up while everyone else had already found their target.
     
  9. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #9
    After taking all of your inputs I decided on a Celestron Newtonian reflector, the Firstscope 114 EQ. The price was right and the large aperture was really compelling. You get what you pay for and I'm not expecting a lot out of this unit, but hopefully it'll fit the bill between quality name, right design, and feature set.

    Her birthday is tomorrow so we'll see how it goes!

    As a tangent, good stargazing websites for me to read up on where to point this thing when it arrives? ;)
     
  10. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
  11. Shamus macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    #11
    Excellent telescope :). I am sure that your daughter will have a fantastic time observing the heavens above us. Reflector telescopes really are the best telescopes for all-round observing, and also the best value for dollar. I was once told: the best telescope, is one that is being looked through ;).

    I would recommend trying to get into a starparty in a local area, or something like it, because events like this are often inspiring.
    A site to look at: Heavens Above. I would also recommend investing in a planisphere, probably around $10-15 just to get you started on the locations of the constellations and the planets.

    Clear Skies! :)
     
  12. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #12
    I would check to see if there are any Astronomical Societies in your area, often they will plan star parties and workshops, etc.
     
  13. Toreador93 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    #13
    I'd say that was a good choice. The most important part of a scope is it's aperature.

    I've been interested and engaged in astronomy for a while. I'm actually in the process of creating a site for amateur astronomers. I plan on putting beginner guides on there, and hopefully consolidate highlights and such to guide viewers. As soon as this semester is over, I think I'll be able to start writing content.

    If you care to take a peak at the work-in-progress: http://amateurstargazer.com/
     
  14. Shamus macrumors 6502a

    Shamus

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    #14
    Looks great! Cant wait to see the completed product! :)
     

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