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danyap
member


Reged: 12/01/12

Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5549666 - 12/02/12 12:34 AM

Wonderful! Thanks so much for all your help everyone! I knew I came to the right place for help! (and thanks for steering me away from the junk out there)! I really wanted to get a telescope that will last a while and inspire our son (and the rest of the family as well)! You are a wealth of knowledge! Thanks again!

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danyap
member


Reged: 12/01/12

Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5549701 - 12/02/12 01:03 AM

Thank you everyone for your input! I knew I came to the right place! This is going to be a great adventure for our whole family. You are all amazing and I thank you for helping us get our feet wet in astronomy. Hope you all have a blessed season!

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: danyap]
      #5549703 - 12/02/12 01:08 AM

you too, we're all just glad you didn't run to the nearest department or electronics store and picked up one those junkers that would have been a waste of 100 to 200 dollars.

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GOLGO13
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5549731 - 12/02/12 01:50 AM

do you have a costco near you? they have a 4 inch goto refractor thats getting good reviews for 200. nexstar 102gt i think. hard to say on those two scopes. i would probably go just a little higher for the xt6. i suppose i like the xt4.5 of those 2. dont need a table to set it on.

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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: GOLGO13]
      #5549748 - 12/02/12 02:21 AM

IMHO a GoTo is not the way to introduce folks to astronomy and thats the only reason i would not suggest it.

there are many reason to get a GoTo scope but getting one with little to know knowledge of the night sky is a sure fire way to either result in one of two things happening.

#1 get them frustrated having to setup the 2 star alignment or what ever requirement it has. if you don't know what the stars are above you, you cannot properly align a GoTo scope and an improperly aligned GoTo is about as bad as an improperly aligned EQ mounted scope. end result they get frustrated and give up or just learn to find a few bright guide stars and nothing else.

#2 is what i said at the end of #1, they end up only knowing how to find a few guide stars on their own and nothing else. there is a big sense of accomplishment when one finds an object on their own. using star charts can be daunting for a beginner however so i'm a pretty big advocate of using interactive hand held star chart programs on phones or tablets like google sky map or for the more advanced observer skysafari plus or better. the end result is you learn the constellations doing so and with time and practice it becomes second nature finding many "show" objects manually.

I often go to public star party's put on by my club. very often i get requests to see common objects like Andromeda galaxy etc. because i know the sky so well i don't need a thing to locate that and many other show objects in the night sky currently and i can go from showing something completely on the other side of the sky to showing someone the ring nebula or M31 in a matter of 10 seconds at most. even goto scopes can't slew over to an object that fast if they are pointed somewhere completely wrong.

good reasons for goto are, imaging and showing large groups of the public a single object at time. i usually deal with small 2-4 person groups at a time while others at a party are showing other guests objects in their scopes so having goto is not a huge requirement.

anyways i've gone way off topic for the OP's purposes. all i'm trying to say is GoTo sounds cool to beginners but in reality it can turn out to be a roadblock or a crutch that can rob them from learning the whole experience.

edit: oh and there's one more wildcard with a cheap goto scope like that one. if the mount breaks its pretty much trash and while i know it gets good reviews from new owners i'd wager that if it got used heavily for many years the goto mount would be the very first thing to break on it. don't get me wrong, i'm not saying i know it to be a common thing with that scope, i don't but then again i don't know much about that scope either never researched into it because i have not had an interest in buying one but it only makes sense that a goto refractor that is that cheap has to have corners cut somewhere and the mount/electronics is going to often be where they get cut IMO, the accessories is also where they are almost always cut.

Edited by frito (12/02/12 02:31 AM)


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Achernar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: danyap]
      #5549918 - 12/02/12 08:13 AM

Buy the Dob, equatorials are going to be hard for a child to learn to use at first, and low-priced equatorial mounts are usually shaky too. The telescope is also an F/4, which are not a good choice for a child because the collimation is very critical. Coma will also be severe and cheaper eyepieces do not work well with telescopes that have a very fast focal ratio. Coma turns stars into comets all around the outer edges of the field of view. Moreover, it's not a good general purpose telescope but a small 4.5 or 6-inch F/8 Dob is a very good general purpose telescope that will with the right eyepieces perform well on anything he cares to look at. The longer focal ratio will allow any eyepiece of good guality to give good views and collimation is less demanding too. No chromatic abberation and hardly any coma even with wider field eyepieces are an advantage of those small F/8 and F/9 reflecting telescopes. While a Dob does not track, they are steady and he can learn to track objects even at 200X with a little practice. I do not advise buying a low cost GOTO telescope for two reasons. One is the mountings are often inadequate, and secondly he still has to know his way well enough around the sky to set it up. Then he also has to use a power source, which will be a 12-volt power tank or battery. I reccommend also at some point buying a Telrad, they are great "point and look" aiming devices that are easy to use and do not reverse or invert the image. The bullseye reticle can be dimmed or brightened as needed, and runs a very long time on a pair of penlite batteries. Even though I have digital setting circles and a 50mm finder telescope on my larger telescopes, the Telrad still sees use for those reasons. From a dark site he will be able to see all of the Messier objects with a 4.5-inch Dob, while sitting on a stool. He can carry the whole telescope at once, and it will last for many years with care, even if he later acquires a large telescope it will still be used because a good small telescope is ideal for looking at the moon and planets, especially from cities or when the seeing isn't very good. They are portable enough to take along almost anywhere, and if an object is blocked by a tree or building he can simply move the telescpe without having to polar align it. Dobs do not need polar alignment or batteries to work, they are simple, effective and have very little to go wrong.

Taras


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JohnMurphyRN
sage
*****

Reged: 09/09/12

Loc: Near St Louis
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: Achernar]
      #5549940 - 12/02/12 08:52 AM

I'd have a look at that used 6" dob. There really isn't a whole lot that would require a warranty.

I echo Frito on the GOTO. And I find myself in complete agreement with Taras.


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: Achernar]
      #5550216 - 12/02/12 11:55 AM

Quote:

They are portable enough to take along almost anywhere, and if an object is blocked by a tree or building he can simply move the telescpe without having to polar align it

Taras




i always forget this point even though i do it with my XT8 all the time to get to certain objects rising on the horizon hehe. nothing better than being at a star party and while the guy's with the GoTo and EQ scopes are waiting for jupiter or M42 to rise high enough over the hill or tree and i just go oh i can get to it if i move my scope this way 5 feet, pick it up plop it down and i'm observing again. lol


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newtoskies
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/12

Loc: SE Ma.
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5550236 - 12/02/12 12:09 PM

Yep I would say the XT4.5 Dob for a starter. I would say the 6" but that would be a bit much for him to carry. He will get some great views from this scope. The moon, Jupiter M45 will wow him, and you. Be warned, you too may get the bug and want a scope of your own...lol
Dwayne is right on the money. The dob you just pick up and plop down anywhere, no polar alignment etc. I do this all the time, move from one spot to another to get better views.


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Driven1
super member


Reged: 08/19/10

Loc: N. Central PA near CSSP
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: JohnMurphyRN]
      #5550245 - 12/02/12 12:16 PM Attachment (9 downloads)

Although the suggestions of the Dob scopes are good ones for various reasons, as a person relatively new to this hobby I disagree with the assumption that GoTos are lazy astronomy and aren't very good for learning where things are in the sky. A GoTo helped me immensely in learning where objects were. I can now look up and know what I'm looking at and for. Skymaps and other various planetarium softwares were of great help as well.

Starting off with a manually guided scope with a fairly small FOV, the most frustration I had was having to keep pushing the thing around to keep it on target. That's what prompted me to go with a GoTo. I can now actually LOOK at an object for as long as I care to.

As far as the junk statement, I've had an iOptron N114G 4.5" GoTo for over 3 years now. Yes, the OTA is cheaply made and the tripod isn't all that great. The optics are fine though. But with some thought, I've turned the OTA into a good little scope and found a way to make the tripod stable. The whole system is now good enough for AP within its capabilities.

The "Cube" has been absolutely flawless under fairly heavy use, and tracks very, very, well. The tracking system in the scope I mentioned is the same system. Just like any other tracking capable configuration, tracking is only as good as the setup. BTW, these scopes are VERY easy to setup and align. Just as long as the initial setup is level and you have a known object to "sync" it to, you're good to go. It takes me all of 10 mins to get this thing set up and tracking perfectly.

As the OP stated, he was looking for something inexpensive and that wouldn't become frustrating for his son to use. Pushing a scope around all evening to keep something in view is not (and was not) my idea of fun. Don't get me wrong, I love the view from a Dob and its simplicity for the reasons mentioned, especially in a 6" or larger. I just felt that the assumption that the scope I mentioned was "Junk" and doesn't promote educational benefits was way off base.


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: Driven1]
      #5550273 - 12/02/12 12:35 PM

I never said your scope was junk. i made a general statement that most scopes that can be bought at a local chain store are in fact junk, there is nothing wrong with my statement because it is true.

you may not have used GoTo as a crutch but many folks do when they are new. it develops bad habits.

as an example a guy that went out to a few of our star parties back when i first got my XT6 and was just starting out myself had bought a Meade 6" LS200, a good scope and one that costs like tons more than my 6 did. one of the more experienced members there that night challenged both of us to find a globular cluster in Sagittarius. he had it in his bino's on a tripod so we both already knew where it was generally. i found it in about 5 minutes with my XT6. the guy with the LS200 then spent the next 15 minutes trying to manually find it with the hand controller because you cannot move the scope any other way and finally figured out that his red dot sight was never aligned properly so it was a pointless exercise, he did eventually find it but it ended up being a ton of trouble for him because he had been relying on the scope too much and had never tried to manually use it to find faint fuzzys.

I saw this guy one more time a few weekends later when we did a half messier marathon and i have yet to see him come back out again in over a month. i'm not sure if he's just busy but i would honestly not be surprised to find out the goto functions of his scope had in the end turned him off from the hobby, but then again maybe he just decided it was not for him i don't honestly know.

Edited by frito (12/02/12 12:37 PM)


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Driven1
super member


Reged: 08/19/10

Loc: N. Central PA near CSSP
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5550331 - 12/02/12 01:17 PM

Point taken. I guess I was always curious enough to delve deeper and learn about what I was looking at rather than just telling the scope to go to it and then looking at it and saying "Wow, isn't that cool!" Plus I've always been looking for ways to improve what I have and what I can do with what I have. In that respect, I believe I've done very well.

After attending the Cherry Springs Star Party this year, a really bad case of Aperture Fever has set in and as soon as money provides, I'll be looking into a more "quality" and capable setup in the 6" to 8" range. Which, sooner or later, will be the most likely path of the OP's son. So it goes.


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frito
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/05/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: Driven1]
      #5550335 - 12/02/12 01:19 PM

Quote:

Point taken. I guess I was always curious enough to delve deeper and learn about what I was looking at rather than just telling the scope to go to it and then looking at it and saying "Wow, isn't that cool!" Plus I've always been looking for ways to improve what I have and what I can do with what I have. In that respect, I believe I've done very well.

After attending the Cherry Springs Star Party this year, a really bad case of Aperture Fever has set in and as soon as money provides, I'll be looking into a more "quality" and capable setup in the 6" to 8" range. Which, sooner or later, will be the most likely path of the OP's son. So it goes.




then you my friend have caught the bug. be careful aperture fever can be highly dangerous to your bank account


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JohnMurphyRN
sage
*****

Reged: 09/09/12

Loc: Near St Louis
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5550380 - 12/02/12 01:54 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Point taken. I guess I was always curious enough to delve deeper and learn about what I was looking at rather than just telling the scope to go to it and then looking at it and saying "Wow, isn't that cool!" Plus I've always been looking for ways to improve what I have and what I can do with what I have. In that respect, I believe I've done very well.

After attending the Cherry Springs Star Party this year, a really bad case of Aperture Fever has set in and as soon as money provides, I'll be looking into a more "quality" and capable setup in the 6" to 8" range. Which, sooner or later, will be the most likely path of the OP's son. So it goes.




then you my friend have caught the bug. be careful aperture fever can be highly dangerous to your bank account




A slippery slope of increasing steepness....


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jerwin
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 05/17/12

Loc: Romeoville IL
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5550384 - 12/02/12 01:54 PM

A goto that is properly aligned gives instant satisfaction, or lack thereof faint fuzzies. MY OPINION is the average 11 year old wouldn't enjoy spending 5 minutes trying to find something that might not be all that impressive. I believe they need that that instant gratification to get them hooked, then all bets are off.

I'm 33 and if weren't for my goto scope I wouldnít still be doing this, Iím 100% positive of that. I now also own a dob and like it, I like many aspects of it, but I never would have got that far if I spent all night trying to find an object, and then tried to manually track it all night. The sense of accomplishment can only be had if you manage to find it, and with light pollution there's a lot of stuff you wonít find, or wonít realize youíre even seeing it, especially if youíre a beginner. Goto helped me plan my viewing sessions. If I know I canít see M1 in LP I donít try from my back yard. Dark site is another story. And at the dark site is when I look for those things that I canít see from my back yard, thus those are the objects I really donít know where they are in the sky. Since dark nights are limited to a few days a month, I opt to for quantity over a sense of accomplishment. But having said that, my goto scope helped me learn the sky way more than reading a book during the day and observing at night would have.

A goto scope is more expensive, true. My 11" SCT cost $1800, my 10" dob cost $500
A goto scope takes longer to setup, true. (maybe 5 minute for my totally disassembled dob, and 20 for MY SCT)
A cheap dob doesnít track, true which is a HUGE advantage in favor of goto scopes. In MY OPINION tracking alone outweighs setup time, hands down and I think really makes a good dent into the cost justification.

There is a lot of dob snobs on CN and many preach in the beginners forum and badmouth goto's and that's a bunch of BS. As I said above I like my dob, but if I could only keep one hands down I'd keep my cpc1100. Again, in my OPINION being able to observe the beauty of an object in the night sky is a far more rewarding experience to me than finding it on my own after a 5 minute search.

There is people at my star parties, people who think their opinions should be valued more than others, I go out of my way to avoid those people because they take away from my enjoyment of the hobby. I think itís that same reason that CN has a way of ignoring these users.

Probably little of my rant helps the original poster. I simply wanted to defend gotoís that are being misrepresented.


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kfiscus
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: jerwin]
      #5550464 - 12/02/12 02:34 PM

The OP's $250 max budget makes go to a hard sell. A good used XT6 at $150 bought from a reputable seller gives them room for accessories.

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Mike4242
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/02/11

Loc: Memphis, TN
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5550499 - 12/02/12 03:03 PM

Quote:

The OP's $250 max budget makes go to a hard sell. A good used XT6 at $150 bought from a reputable seller gives them room for accessories.




Completely agree. At the OPs price point something has to give and it's either optics, mount, or electronics. I typically recommend goto/tracking scopes if they fall within a person's price point; however, IMO it's better to compromise on the electronics and go for better optics and steadier mount.


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PencilCricket
member


Reged: 10/14/12

Loc: Stafford, United Kingdom
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: jerwin]
      #5550526 - 12/02/12 03:18 PM

Far enough but I'm pretty sure if I'd had GOTO on my scope I'd have spent six months going around all the "cool" objects and at the end I would have said "Finished!" and never really bothered after that. I think it depends whether you're more interested in looking at beautiful things in the sky (GOTO) or in understanding the contents of the cosmos in more depth, in which case the fact that without GOTO you have to spend ages looking things may mean you end up learning a lot more along the way. I'm not knocking the former, I'm sure a GOTO would be better for my girlfriend's dad for example than the basic mount he's got, but I really think for some people GOTO is a blind alley, and for others a scope without GOTO means a frustrating time spent working out how to find things when what you really want to be doing is LOOKING AT THEM.

Essentially, if you couldn't initially sustain your hobby without the convenience of a GOTO, it's great to have GOTO. If on the other hand having a GOTO means you miss out on the journey of exploration you'd have without it, then you're better off without it.

Anyway, what a lucky kid! I wanted a telescope when I was little but all I got was a pretty useless plastic toy... If he really likes his telescope it might be an idea to get him a subscription to an astronomy magazine for his birthday.


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GOLGO13
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: frito]
      #5550528 - 12/02/12 03:22 PM

I think to "go to"/"push to" or not to really depends on where you are observing from. Where I live there are not a whole lot of stars to hop from.

For looking at planets and the moon it certainly doesn't matter. Those are the objects most folks would look at as a beginner.

I'm glad I got push to on my 10 inch dob. I don't think I'd still be observing without some sort of electronics. I know you guys enjoy finding objects (from previous posts). I can tell you that not everyone is like that. I could care less about the finding part of observing (in fact I really don't enjoy it at all). I'm much more into the observing part.

I don't think we should assume that everyone is the same for this hobby. With an 11 year old, planets and the moon may be just fine with him. Maybe he would learn the sky and find objects. But unless we know his personality we really can't advise.

I really do like the push to scopes. They are there if you need some help (especially for hard to find targets). But you don't have to use them if you don't want. Or you can use them together with star hopping. Star hop...or just scan the sky...then if you find something interesting you can record the coordinates.

I guess in this situation the 4.5 is probably the safe bet. Then he can get a better scope later if he still has interest.


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gk5481
member
*****

Reged: 12/13/10

Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Telescope for 11 year old under $250? help! new [Re: danyap]
      #5550545 - 12/02/12 03:30 PM

With a little patience a good used 6" f/8 Dob or maybe even an 8" f/6 Dob can be found for under $200 (maybe even $150 for the 6"). You might even get extra accessories included. I've included the 8" Dob because in my opinion it would not be too big for your 11 year old (just help out at first) and would leave more room for growth in the hobby.
IMO the XT 4.5 is a bit too small for deep space objects (if DSO's might be something of interest).
Make sure you search other posts on this site for ideas on where to look for used telescopes.


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