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General Astronomy >> Beginners Forum

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davidpitre
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Reged: 05/10/05

Loc: Central Texas
Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest
      #5666672 - 02/07/13 09:09 AM

A question to both beginners and veterans.
I'm considering donating a telescope to a school (K-8) benefit auction. I would also include a nights instruction in how to operate as well as bringing my own scopes to show them around the sky.
I'm wanting suggestions on the best scope. I obviously know nothing about the winners of the auction, and so need to consider lots of possibilities, needs, interests. I'm not really a goto person myself, but realize many are, and it helps many get aquainted with the sky as well as helping in the early stages of finding objects. Then again, alignments can be intimidating to some, and might make them feel like it is too much to tackle.
I'm also concerned with collimation. It might also be a put-off.
So. Reflector or refractor?
Goto or not?
My budget is $3oo. $400. total.


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Tank
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/27/09

Loc: Stoney Creek, Ontario, CANADA
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: davidpitre]
      #5666715 - 02/07/13 09:42 AM

I would say go with a 8" or 6" solid tube DOB
Do one collimation at the begining and should hold for a while.
The GOTO mounts cost alot and hard to operate at the start.
DOB will be ready to go once you pull it out of the car also the 6" or 8" DOB will show you alot more than a frac can for $400 total package!
my 2 cents


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dpwoos
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Loc: United States
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: davidpitre]
      #5666739 - 02/07/13 09:57 AM

Binoculars.

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Madratter
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Reged: 01/14/13

Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5666757 - 02/07/13 10:07 AM

I second the vote for a good pair of binoculars. As much as I love my Dob, I don't think a Dob is a good idea for this case. If you don't like binoculars, maybe one of the small goto Refractors.

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Tony Flanders
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: davidpitre]
      #5666769 - 02/07/13 10:17 AM

Quote:

I'm considering donating a telescope to a school (K-8) benefit auction. I would also include a nights instruction in how to operate as well as bringing my own scopes to show them around the sky. I'm wanting suggestions on the best scope . . . My budget is $3oo. $400. total.




I would stay away from Go To, especially in that price range. It can be very helpful once you get into the great list of DSOs. But anybody can find the Moon and planets by sighting on them directly, and those are the targets most likely to interest beginners. And doing it yourself gives you a great feeling of confidence and control.

I'd say there are two reasonable choices. One is a 6-inch Dob. 6 rather than 8 inches will save a bit of money, and it's ample for someone who may or may not end up interested. Moreover, at f/8, once the scope has been collimated the first time it will probably remain collimated well enough for any but the most critical observers more or less forever.

The other alternative would be a small refractor. Orion's 80-mm Go Scope is a particularly good deal, and at that price point you could throw in a 2X Barlow, which would be hugely helpful for such a small, fast scope.

I don't think binoculars are such a great idea. In some ways, they're harder to use than telescopes. And they certainly won't give the same knock-your-socks-off views of Jupiter and the Moon.

Moreover, people are more likely to own binoculars already.


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uniondrone
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5666792 - 02/07/13 10:24 AM


I agree with Tony's assessment.


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csrlice12
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Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: uniondrone]
      #5666810 - 02/07/13 10:36 AM

Agree with Tony, the 6" will only very rarely require collimation,yet provide good views. As we are also dealing with K-8 graders here, the 6" would allow comfortable viewing for all in those age groups, most you would need is a small stool for the youngest ones. The Dob will definitly be easier to view thru then a refractor, where they'll end up in some uncomfortable positions. Wow, a 6" Dob as a first scope.....that's gonna be some lucky kid (and parents too).

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dpwoos
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5666839 - 02/07/13 10:53 AM

I build dobs, I love dobs, but I wouldn't do a dob without knowing who it was going to. If you don't want to do binos then a small refractor.

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JLovell
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Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5666913 - 02/07/13 11:32 AM

I'd look around for a "like new" used Intelliscope Dob. Didn't they used to make a 6" version? You can use it entirely manually like a standard Dob, or with the push-to electronics when they learn enough stars to align the scope. Might be able to find a really nice used one for that budget, especially if you talk to the seller about what you want it for.

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Jarrod
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Loc: SE USA
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5666920 - 02/07/13 11:37 AM

As a beginner myself, with school-aged kids (and especially since you are going to give them one-on-one instruction on setup and use) I would go with a little mak-cass on an EQ mount with an RA motor (or a goto alt-az would be even better). For me and the kids, who don't know the sky, the most frustrating thing is finding and then keeping the object we want to observe in the FOV. Once we do find it, even a lazy, eyeballed polar alignment is accurate enough for the RA slow motion control to track an object for more than the attention span of the kids and me.

For my wife, the most frustrating thing is the space the kit takes up. That's why the mak-cass recommendation. You do not want it to look like some hulking thing (Dob) if you want lots of people bidding on it. I think you'd find that many moms won't tolerate that.


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MikeBOKC
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5666924 - 02/07/13 11:39 AM

I think the little tablestop Orion Starblast 4 inch reflectors are pretty nice beginner scopes, very kid friendly yet with pretty decent optics. I know club members who bring those scopes to outreach events for the convenience of transport and use.

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Jarrod
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5666927 - 02/07/13 11:41 AM

And by the way, what a GREAT and generous thing to donate for a school auction. Kudos to you. If that had been my son's school, I'd have bid it up pretty good

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Thomas Karpf
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Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5666951 - 02/07/13 11:51 AM

An ST-80 on an alt-az mount with an erecting prism and an inexpensive 8-24mm eyepiece. Very intuitive to use. Usable under the stars, for birding, etc.

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csrlice12
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Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5666962 - 02/07/13 11:59 AM

"You do not want it to look like some hulking thing (Dob) if you want lots of people bidding on it."

Good, means I get a better scope for a cheaper price......


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NeilMac
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Reged: 09/25/10

Loc: MedHat, AB, Canada
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5666969 - 02/07/13 12:04 PM

I don't think binoculars are such a great idea they can go missing.

8" dob would be the best general purpose/simple and inexpensive.


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NeilMac
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5666971 - 02/07/13 12:04 PM

I don't think binoculars are such a great idea they can go missing.

8" dob would be the best general purpose/simple and inexpensive.


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Madratter
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Reged: 01/14/13

Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5666998 - 02/07/13 12:20 PM

Quote:

I build dobs, I love dobs, but I wouldn't do a dob without knowing who it was going to. If you don't want to do binos then a small refractor.




I've been thinking this over some more, thinking back to when I got my first scope and what I did with it. Likewise, I have a friend who just got a telescope. The moon and the planets are the likely targets. As such, a refractor makes a great scope but I'm not a fan of the very short focal length refractors for that purpose.

And I still think a Dob is a really bad idea.


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csrlice12
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Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: Madratter]
      #5667006 - 02/07/13 12:28 PM

Maybe the best to do is a scope that is a "jack of all trades, master of none" and get one of the 102mm F9.8 acromats, Preferrably on an alt/az mount. These scopes do well with most any eyepiece, they're tough, you'd almost have to beat them against a tree to hurt them, and they're easy to use, and will give you both decent DSO and Planetary/lunar views. They also allow you to view using both low and high powers. Considering this will be used by multiple people, it just might be the best all-round deal.

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John Kuraoka
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Reged: 12/12/12

Loc: Sunny San Diego, CA
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5667025 - 02/07/13 12:41 PM

I'll just throw this in, as a parent with two school-aged kids who has attended such fundraising auctions.

I think the ability to use the scope in daytime will dramatically increase the chances for uptake; school-aged kids must go to bed early to be up and ready to go by 7 the next morning. So any reflector will be non-school-night-use only, which significantly limits its use.

So, another vote for a small mak-cas or refractor, preferably also equipped with a correct-image diagonal for terrestrial use.

Also, I'd recommend including some books in the package: a basic star chart or kid-friendly star atlas (as much as I like my new S&T atlas, I wouldn't recommend it as part of an auction package to non-astronomy people) and Turn Left at Orion.

Last but probably foremost, thank you for your generosity! Schools today are really strapped, and I hope your donation raises a nice chunk of money.


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WaterMasterAdministrator
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Reged: 02/17/10

Loc: Southeast Idaho, USA
Re: Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest [Re: John Kuraoka]
      #5667041 - 02/07/13 12:53 PM

What a great thing, David

I'll also agree with Tony.

To sweeten the deal you have my permission to throw in a free membership to Cloudy Nights!


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