Jump to content


Photo

Comets and scope sales?

  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 MikeBOKC

MikeBOKC

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4601
  • Joined: 10 May 2010
  • Loc: Oklahoma City, OK

Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:38 PM

Some of us are old enough to recall the surge in telescope sales that preceded Comet Halley's passge in 1986. With more and more media accounts concerning PANSTARRS and ISON this year, I wonder if we are in for a similar boost in the months ahead. While recent projections for PANSTARRS are less spectacular, both still look like good comets with very impressive viewing windows. I note that Astronomics has a banner up on their site linking an Explore Scientific sale to the coming comets, and I suspect others will too. Anyone with connections to the major manufaturers or dealers have any insight into marketing plans for 2013 tied to these comets? Even if neither pans out to be in the great comet category, there is still a lot of potential to raise the profile of amateur astronomy.

#2 CJK

CJK

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 555
  • Joined: 05 Dec 2012
  • Loc: Northeast TN

Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:44 PM

I was actually wondering the same thing, as I've been eagerly anticipating both of those comets. It's one of the reasons Santa brought a telescope for my daughter this past Christmas -- I don't want the kids to miss seeing them, as I missed both Halley and McNaught. :/

-- Chris

#3 Seldom

Seldom

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 835
  • Joined: 05 Aug 2012
  • Loc: N of Cedar City Light Dome

Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:05 PM

I bought a mirror kit and figured it for Halley. The mirror worked fine, but Halley was a dud.

#4 Skylook123

Skylook123

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7495
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:07 PM

Many of the scopes mass-produced to meet the Halley demand were also duds. Let's see how the demand pressures the supply!

#5 MG1962

MG1962

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 243
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2011

Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:53 AM

could some juicy bargains on Ebay

#6 GlennLeDrew

GlennLeDrew

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10856
  • Joined: 17 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:13 AM

Did the back to back pair of spectacular (!!) comets Hyakutake and Hale Bopp do anything of the like? And this leads to my contention that for the big, bright comets, binoculars are generally the better instrument. Most any telescope will be good only for teasing out near-nucleus details. The coma and tail(s) are far better appreciated with binos, and even the unaided eye.

Pushing telescopes on the untrained public, where comets are concerned, is actually something of a disservice. Yeah, I know, hopefully the bug will bite and that scope will continue to be used on the night sky. But a bino is still a better bright comet instrument for John and Jane Q.

#7 droid

droid

    rocketman

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 7202
  • Joined: 29 Aug 2004
  • Loc: Conneaut, Ohio

Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:22 AM

My Comet Catcher is still going strong

#8 steveyo

steveyo

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 197
  • Joined: 13 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Upstate NY

Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:50 AM

...Pushing telescopes on the untrained public, where comets are concerned, is actually something of a disservice.

Some big commercial interests are concerned with the public's general welfare, some aren't.

But I'd believe scope-sales will go up - catalogs like Sharper Image & Hammacher Schlemmer & airline-seat "AirMall" will sell more of their rebranded scopes.

...a bino is still a better bright comet instrument for John and Jane Q.

I agree that binos will be better than a scope in the case of a comet...and M33! Anything big and hazy looks better to my brain through two eyes..

#9 RobertED

RobertED

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3202
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2003
  • Loc: Smithfield, RI

Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:31 AM

OK, OK!...once the laughing dies down!, .....I'll admit that that back in the early 1970's....yeah, I'm THAT old....lol....a predicted appearance of the "Comet of the Century" (a.k.a. Comet Kohoutek) sort of pushed me into buying my first telescope. It was a SEARS & Roebuck 2.4" alt-azimuth refractor. It cost around $39.99. I think the "hype" of Kohoutek's approach helped my parents decide to buy it for me in the fall of 1971. I can't say that this event was what actually introduced me to the wonderful world of Backyard Astronomy, but it may have helped!!!!
I believe it was my Dad, who used to love to look at the full Moon with his 7x35 Tasco binoculars, that started me observing!!!! I STILL love the stars, as of TODAY!!!!!!! :refractor:

#10 RobertED

RobertED

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3202
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2003
  • Loc: Smithfield, RI

Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:36 AM

....AGREED!!...binoculars are probably BEST to observe with!!! A decent scope can be used for close-up nucleus work!!!!

#11 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44364
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:20 AM

Did the back to back pair of spectacular (!!) comets Hyakutake and Hale Bopp do anything of the like? And this leads to my contention that for the big, bright comets, binoculars are generally the better instrument. Most any telescope will be good only for teasing out near-nucleus details. The coma and tail(s) are far better appreciated with binos, and even the unaided eye.



Glenn:

There are certainly telescopes that are well suited for observing larger, brighter comets. An 80mm F/5 telescope with a 2 inch focuser is capable of a binocular-like 6.5 degree TFoV with a maximum exit pupil.

But in general, the telescopes that were sold during the craze were not well suited for observing bright comets for the general public, binoculars are better suited. The fact that the Celestron and Meade SCTs of the comet era have a reputation for under performing, these were not scopes appropriate for viewing bright comets.

But every bright comet starts as a faint comet so there is always a place for telescopes. I am big on fast telescopes with eyepieces that are well corrected, I think they are about ideal for comets.

Jon

#12 GeneT

GeneT

    Ely Kid

  • *****
  • Posts: 12790
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2008
  • Loc: South Texas

Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:03 PM

I bought a C8 in the mid-80s. It actually had pretty good optics.

#13 Madratter

Madratter

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6830
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2013

Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:36 PM

Pushing telescopes on the untrained public, where comets are concerned, is actually something of a disservice. Yeah, I know, hopefully the bug will bite and that scope will continue to be used on the night sky. But a bino is still a better bright comet instrument for John and Jane Q.


I totally agree. I really wonder whether amateur astronomy doesn't constantly shoot itself in the foot with all this constantly over hyped comet and meteor shower stuff.

I love a fine comet as much as the next guy. I even enjoy the not so good ones. And I'll go out and freeze to see a meteor every couple of minutes. But I think the average guy hears there is going to be a meteor shower, goes outside, looks at the sky (as likely as not from some place totally inappropriate), sees next to nothing, and wanders back in totally disillusioned.

Forget an occasional comet that does great, or the rare, rare meteor shower that produces more than a meteor a minute that you can actually see.

The most spectacular things for the uninitiated are things like the Moon and Saturn. And those can be enjoyed even from very poor locations.

I'm primarily a DSO guy at this point. But the Moon and planets is what got me started.

#14 Meadeball

Meadeball

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 344
  • Joined: 22 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Midlothian, Virginia

Posted 20 January 2013 - 04:07 PM

Hale-Bopp is what yanked me back into the hobby after a decade away in the late 1990s. (1997, was it?) That's also the year Meade came out with the ETX and sold loads of them. Coincidence? Heck no. (I bought one too ...)

#15 Startraffic

Startraffic

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 791
  • Joined: 12 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Lat. 39.143345, Long. -77.174802

Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:20 AM

Mike,
I rushed the construction of my 14.5"f8 folded Newt for Shoemaker-Levy. There was a big surge then for that. I don't see why it won't happen again.

Robert,
LOL I remember looking FOR Kohoutek, back during JHS science days, never did see it. I also broke out the Western Auto 3"f12 Alt/Az refractor with the "High Power" plastic lenses, & the tubular steel legs, that was a Christmas present from my parents :lol:

Clear Dark Skies
Startraffic
39.138274 -77.168898

#16 Mike B

Mike B

    Starstruck

  • *****
  • Posts: 10253
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2005
  • Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA

Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:42 PM

Some big commercial interests are concerned with the public's general welfare, some aren't.

... and i'll bet they're ALL fairly conflicted over where to draw the line between supporting amateur astronomy & its awareness/outreach aspects, and supporting their own existence.

Comet Halley was a nudge for me- but it was to *upgrade*. I'd already had & used two scopes prior for ~15 years, and only sold them off after upgrading to a Meade 826c (8" EQ Newt) for Halley's arrival, which actually turned out to be a decent scope. Guess i'd "overdressed for the occasion"? :lol:

Today's market seems quite different to me- the internet & the information explosion therewith has changed the playing field for astro retailers, and the buying public! Or at least it has the potential. That stated, i'm still often counseling people who have just bought, or are considering buying a "WalGetGo special" telescope... every drugstore, hardware store, & "big-box" store seems to carry these "500x" plastic-lensed marvels... so the market segment that cares NOthing for astronomy & is ONLY interested in profits is still there, quite active, and prevalent.
:foreheadslap:

I hope to continue being out in public with a decent scope, to share the stare with random folks for these special astro events... i expect this is about the best most of us can do to promote the appreciation of the heavens, and enjoyment of astronomy.

#17 Tom Polakis

Tom Polakis

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1664
  • Joined: 20 Dec 2004
  • Loc: Tempe, Arizona

Posted 21 January 2013 - 02:09 PM

My Comet Catcher is still going strong


Those were actually good scopes.

This one... not so much.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics