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Telescope or binoculars for 7-8 year old?

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#1 rg55

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 06:47 PM

I have a couple of grandsons in this age range and I was wondering what thoughts or suggestions you might have for a first observing tool. I received my first telescope at the age of 10 (a Mayflower reflector) but am wondering about something for younger folks.

Thanks for reading and your ideas!

#2 ebusinesstutor

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 11:44 PM

How about a tabletop dob like an Orion Starblast? Easy to use and portable.

If you want a more affordable option, try the Orion Skyscanner.

#3 sg6

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 10:32 AM

One point is that if they want a telescope then binoculars will be a disappointment. People, including kids, tend to think of a telescope to look at the stars and planets with, not binoculars.

Don't like them personally but something like the ST80 scopes are easy to use and robust. If there are reasonably priced 80mm F/7.5 refractors in the US try for one of them.

#4 tedbnh

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 02:06 PM

I think the Starblast might be a bit of a challenge because it has to sit on a table. Picnic tables are sturdy but too wide for viewing in all directions. I like the Orion XT6, kids have no trouble operating it. With a red dot finder or (preferably) a Telrad on board, they will have a blast cruising around and will easily find Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the Moon. And I like how it it sits firmly on the ground giving lots of room around it.

#5 core

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 10:46 PM

Our youngest had a XT4.5 when he was around 9; I think one of the main things is for the child to have ownership of the telescope - ie, ability to carry it and set it up by him/herself. He can certainly operate a 8" dob (same height as a 6" f/8 dob), but setting it up requires help. Once we gone past the moon and planets, he has been learning to find the brighter objects in the sky with a just little help (Alberio, M13, M45, etc). It's also his bring-and-show scope during cub scout camp outs.

The only negatives (other than price-performance, since the Ares 6" Dob is available again) imo is that the optical finder might be a little harder to use (I do like it being correct-image though) - I replaced it with a red dot (which I do the alignment for now). As for height, a couple of plastic crates works wonders, and even make it usable for adults.

I have been trying out a Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ (going to pass it to a friend's kid), and as much as I would like to like it, using the mount can be quite tricky even for an adult; there's almost no slip in the altitude clutch and it's easy to 'flop' the telescope when trying to track or move it.

I've also had a Vixen A70lf on a Porta Mount, and despite its size it performs quite well; It is cheaper on the Mini Porta, and imo should perform about the same. It does have that classic telescope look to it, however the two main issues I have with it is the finder (much worse and less usable than the XT4.5), and that it comes with the RACI diagonal.

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#6 SpaceConqueror3

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 11:07 PM

40+ years ago I started out with a 3" f/10 Newtonian Reflector on a Alt-Azimuth Mount and use it for several wonderful years before adding a rich field 4 1/4" reflector on an equatorial mount. For a 7-8 year old, I'd get an Orion Space Probe 3 Alt-Azimuth or something similar. It's only around $100 and is quite easy mechanically and weight wise for a youngster to move and operate without assistance. If they don't take to astronomy you didn't waste any money and you can always get them that 6 or 8 inch dob when they're 12-13 yrs old, if they do.

#7 Kevdog

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 06:20 PM

I have a couple of grandsons in this age range and I was wondering what thoughts or suggestions you might have for a first observing tool. I received my first telescope at the age of 10 (a Mayflower reflector) but am wondering about something for younger folks.

Thanks for reading and your ideas!


Telescope for sure. It's harder for the younger to appreciate the wide views and they really want to zoom in on the moon and planets. A 6" dob is a great little kit.

My 6 year old son loves moving our 18" dob by himself and tracking objects. Before when we just had the C11 out and it did all the tracking, he only spent about a minute at the eyepiece. When he could move the scope himself, he spent an hour looking at Saturn. I had to beg him to let me look through my new dob at Saturn before it set :D

The binoculars were good for seeing comet PanStarrs, but it was frustrating for both of us not being able to aim them for him. Now we have a tripod mount, so that's not so bad.

#8 tag1260

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 05:42 PM

A telescope is cool. Binoculars - not cool? At least in a 7 year old mind. ;)

#9 kfiscus

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 11:22 PM

I've repeated the standard advice to start young'uns on binos with a tripod. Most people think this advice wrongheaded and uncool. A scope is what is expected. The XT4.5 or XT6 are both good scopes with decent EPs and can be resold if outgrown or unloved. I've not tried a Starblast yet. They should be considered.

#10 GaryJCarter

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 05:17 PM

Either can be a great experience. While any 4"-8" telescope with a decent finder is a wonderful start, put a set of binoculars on a Sim Picheloup Couch Potato Telescope and turn a kid loose and you'll have trouble getting them to let you have a turn.....

http://www.geocities.ws/lwraif/


#11 rg55

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 09:57 PM

Thanks for all the great comments, folks!

#12 djeber2

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Posted 17 November 2013 - 10:31 AM

telescope. You can find some objects for him and then let him observe and manually track the object (until he is more proficient to find the objects himself).

#13 csrlice12

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 01:10 PM

Was just in the scope store the other day and someone was there with their 7-8 year old daughter. The two scopes the parents were looking at were the XT4.5 and the XT8 (the new blue color). The thing I noticed is that while the parents were talking with the salesperson, the daughter was sitting on the floor slewing around and checking out what she could see with the 4.5". I'd probably go for the 4.5"....as down the road, should she stay with the hobby, this will be a really good "dorm room" scope and as a quick grabngo.

#14 GeneT

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 08:06 PM

For my 9 and 10 year old grandchildren, I bought them NexStar 8 telescopes--one telescope per each set of grandchildren. I taught them how to dial in the Telrad and set up the telescopes. Their parents (my kids) had to set the telescopes up. Yours are a few years younger than mine, and a NexStar 8 would be too much for them. However, in a year or two, probably not. You could start them out with a simple table top telescope, then move them up to a better one in a year or two.

#15 RTLR 12

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 09:11 PM

I do a lot of PO work with scout and youth groups and I find that for the younger kids my Vixen R130sf mounted on a PortaII mount works very well. I find that the younger kids want a scope that is close to what the big people use and the Vixen works well. The kids can have "hands on" experience pointing the scope at targets and doing their own tracking and the Vixen holds up well to the abuse. I have been using this scope for this task for a few years now and the scope is no worse for wear. The price is right too and won't break the bank at $399.

Stan

#16 ivancast09

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:42 PM

I think personally any of the Orion's beginners line up is fine. The St-80 for sure especially since its under a hundred dollars right now.
But one thing nobody has mentioned so far is a good quality eyepiece. I was kinda disappointed with my first 70mm refractor as it came with the cheezy plastic eyepieces a 12.5mm and a 4mm with a 3x Barlow. Not very user friendly. Anyway, if you choose to take a telescope route I'd say go with a refractor and not a reflector because of one simple thing. How many 7-8 yr olds will laser collimate a Newtonian?? As for an eyepiece a good orion or Meade plossils of 25mm and maybe a 9mm. Or you can give them a really fun eyepiece like the celestron zoom eyepeice. Plus its way easier to look through than a pin hole plastic 4mm eyepiece. I think a zoom eyepiece will really interest a child

#17 gene 4181

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 02:58 PM

celestron powerseeker 114 f 8 on the eq. mt. for 125$ you have more than that you want to spend, xt 6 off the clearance page for 240$. if there' none on clearance regular price 309$. but supervision will be needed at first.

#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 09:57 PM

There's a new 5" f/5 table-top AWB OneSky Dob for $199.99 shown on page 69 of the January 2014 issue of S & T that looks very interesting.

http://store.astrono...oduct_info&a...

Dave Mitsky

#19 iam1ru12

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 10:14 PM

For my son's 6th birthday, I bought him a used Orion XT6 with the straight thru 30mm finder. I also added a red dot finder. At 6 years old it was a little big for him but he grew into it quickly. He's now almost 10 and stated his scope is now my old CeleStar 8 (now that I've upgraded to a CPC 1100. My younger son, now 6.5 years old has ditched his 60mm trash scope and says the XT6 is his.

My experience has been nothing but awesome with the XT6 and my boys. You can walk outside with it in one hand and an eyepiece case in the other. You are step up and ready to observe in less than 2 minutes.

As for eyepieces, my boys use my set of older plossls but I think a decent zoom eyepiece would be great.

The XT6 has been a real work horse as well. Any time my kids come with me to an outreach session, they show other kids view from their scope. I find kids teaching kids the best way to drive interest in the hobby.

-Mike

#20 Raginar

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 09:01 AM

Definitely a dob at that age. The goto stuff just isn't 'wowing'.

#21 tim57064

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 10:54 AM

I picked up a Celestron First Scope,76mm f/3.95 dob style, for my 8 year old Grand Daughter for Christmas. Took it into my woodworking shop just to see what Orion Nebula would look like thru a window in there.I could not believe the view thru it with both a 32mm plossl and a 25mm meade plossl.
I am very happy with what the scope was capable of even thru a thermopane/insulated glass window.
It is way to cold to have her,my Granddaughter, outside at night, in the winter, as she would lose interest too fast.
So actual first light for her and the scope will not be 'til spring.
When and if she gains more interest,I will upgrade the scopes for her.

#22 Raginar

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 02:59 PM

Telescope for sure. You just need to show them how to find objects.

An android or iOS device with a planetarium program helps too.

#23 obin robinson

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:33 PM

I have a couple of grandsons in this age range and I was wondering what thoughts or suggestions you might have for a first observing tool. I received my first telescope at the age of 10 (a Mayflower reflector) but am wondering about something for younger folks.

Thanks for reading and your ideas!


My neighbors have several kids that are all between 6 and 10 years old. They all seem to prefer the small refractors when they stop by for my "driveway star parties." I have several scopes set up but they always like to use the ST-80. It's easy for them to use, to focus, and manually move.

obin :)

#24 csrlice12

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:51 PM

To be truthful, that 7-8 year old can handle the cold better then these old bones......

#25 vismundcygnus

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 01:18 PM

I have a couple of grandsons in this age range and I was wondering what thoughts or suggestions you might have for a first observing tool. I received my first telescope at the age of 10 (a Mayflower reflector) but am wondering about something for younger folks.

Thanks for reading and your ideas!


My neighbors have several kids that are all between 6 and 10 years old. They all seem to prefer the small refractors when they stop by for my "driveway star parties." I have several scopes set up but they always like to use the ST-80. It's easy for them to use, to focus, and manually move.

obin :)


That is interesting, Obin. My girlfriend and I have been looking at scopes for her son to use this summer. I have a Galileoscope I thought about adding a focuser too, but I think the field of view might be too narrow. I can't decide between the Orion Funscope, or an ST80. Seems like either are easy to use, but I worry about longterm collimation on the funscope. I think the wide field of view would make it easier to find things than the f/10 Galileoscope.

JH






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