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Telescope Bubble

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#1 Cpk133

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:42 PM

Will telescope prices rise or fall?  Aging market, not exactly popular with youth.  I foresee some good deals in the not too distant future.



#2 frank5817

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 10:48 PM

Moved this topic from OTO to here for a better fit left a link.

OP notified by PM.


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#3 ShaulaB

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 11:17 PM

Tariffs. Most gear made in China.



#4 havasman

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Posted 15 August 2019 - 11:49 PM

That's one way to interpret a failing market. Another may be that in the face of a demand collapse suppliers disappear and what supply exists commands higher and higher prices.

 

Both are likely fantasies. It's a tiny market.


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#5 TOMDEY

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 12:17 AM

Interesting larger topic... in that (indeed!) trends in hobbies tend to ebb and flow.

 

So, here we are, the ~serious~ astronomy buffs. Although a lot of people have a casual/passing interest in astronomy... it rarely goes beyond UFO speculations, area 51 conspiracy theories, or peeking thru a friend's telescope, at the moon. The pinnacle comprises buying a little "Christmas Telescope"... for the kids, and trying to use it, once, out in the backyard, under the ~security light~. Then, out of the snow, into the closet... forever.

 

Then there's us, sigh... mostly older guys who vaguely/nostalgically remember the ~dark years~ of childhood, and try to recapture that with way too much fancy  $$$ gear and vicarious cameras, our eyes peering thru pinprick pupils, dark brown lenses full of floaters, afraid to get the sorely-needed eye surgeries. "Other people's eyes are shot... but mine are fine, just fine..."

 

With that motivational speech --- go out and observe!    Tom

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#6 sg6

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 01:59 AM

Rise.

I have noticed that equipment cost are getting to the state where I doubt beginners can make a comfortable entry in to the hobby.

 

Few years ago when asked I would have said a basic AP setup would be £800 here, £450-500 goto EQ5 and a £250-300 72ED. Now it is £1200. Now that may be negated by general inflation but it seems income has not risen by a similar %.

 

Think some retailers (here at least) are selling their own brand scopes at premium scope prices. Considering the branded ones are likely a lesser purchase cost it seems a bit shortsighted. And deters new people coming in.



#7 TOMDEY

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 03:06 AM

Rise.

I have noticed that equipment cost are getting to the state where I doubt beginners can make a comfortable entry in to the hobby.

Few years ago when asked I would have said a basic AP setup would be £800 here, £450-500 goto EQ5 and a £250-300 72ED. Now it is £1200. Now that may be negated by general inflation but it seems income has not risen by a similar %.

Think some retailers (here at least) are selling their own brand scopes at premium scope prices. Considering the branded ones are likely a lesser purchase cost it seems a bit shortsighted. And deters new people coming in.

An entry-level beginner would be far far better off with a modest 4-inch refractor or 8-inch reflector, and a couple of eyepieces. Off-the-shelf, turn-key equipment now-a-days is exceptionally inexpensive, by historical standards. Not all that long ago, nearly all amateurs built their scopes from scratch and junkyard parts... and processed images in the basement with film and chemicals.   Tom


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#8 Traveler

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 05:25 AM

IMO the prices are already down since 20 years...These are in fact the very best times to buy astronomy equipment.


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#9 db2005

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 05:55 AM

When adjusted for inflation, the cost of telescopes, mounts and accessories have been reduced maybe 50% or more since the late 1990s. And the quality of most of the things coming out of China is much, much better than it was then. Prior to the inexpensive EDs coming out of China around 2003, your only choice for an ED scope would have to be from one of the premium brands. which was not cheap. Inexpensive ED scopes offer beginners great optics in a small, relatively affordable package. The same developments have happened with regards to eyepieces and telescope mounts.

 

Getting equipment for starting in amateur astronomy has never been as affordable as now. But premium stuff is still as expensive as ever. It seems to me like the price-gap between entry-level and premium quality equipment has widened considerably while the quality gap has narrowed somewhat. To me that doesn't indicate a "telescope bubble", but that the market is becoming more polarized.


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#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 06:54 AM

Lagrangian and Eulerian specification of the flow field....

 

History is written from fixed frame of reference.  But we live our lives, perceive the world around us, as particles in a flow.  

 

What we perceive as an aging of our hobbies is really just us getting old as we drift in the flow of time. 

 

Telescopes have been getting less expensive.  Equipment has been getting better.  Premium optics today are better than premium optics were 20 years ago.. Consumer optics are better today than they were 20 years ago.. 

 

Jon


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#11 Traveler

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 07:03 AM

...or what to think what Sbig ($$$$) and others made 20 years ago vs DSLR's can provide now…

About mounts is a little diffrent imo. Are all those electronics make mounts better and simplyer and more accurate? A good mount today is stll at high prices.  



#12 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 07:50 AM

...or what to think what Sbig ($$$$) and others made 20 years ago vs DSLR's can provide now…

About mounts is a little diffrent imo. Are all those electronics make mounts better and simplyer and more accurate? A good mount today is stll at high prices.  

 

I think that a good mount today is better than a good mount of 20 years ago...  

 

Jon



#13 junomike

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 07:54 AM

IME technology and the times will keep prices consistent.  Anyone who inherits (or is given) anything nowadays hits Google to find the value.

Their are deals to be had but in general people know (or soon find out) what things are worth.

Estates that are sold cheap are bought by "Piecers" who then flip the items for "going rate".



#14 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 08:31 AM

The market consists of niches within a niche. Most people don’t even know this market exists.

#15 decep

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 08:40 AM

Aging market, not exactly popular with youth.

Astronomy was never popular with youth.  The cool kids have always been the cool kids and astronomy kids were never the cool kids.

 

However, I would say that the market for astronomy is larger than ever, the market is just different--the hobby is different, too.  What has really changed is the consumer.  Clubs/meetups with a physical space are not as popular.

 

The Internet allows people to participate in the hobby without directly interacting [with other people].  The barrier for entry is ridiculously lower, in terms of acquiring equipment, information on how to use the equipment, and what to do with the equipment.


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#16 db2005

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 08:55 AM

The market consists of niches within a niche. Most people don’t even know this market exists.

Nice point!

 

"Things that can be bought for money" --> consumer goods --> hobby equipment --> optical equipment --> binoculars and telescopes --> telescopes --> telescopes designed for stargazing --> {achromats, APOs, Newtonians, SCTs MCTs, etc) --> lower, mid and upper tier equipment and accessories.

 

Most people probably don't know there are subniches below "binoculars and telescopes"


Edited by db2005, 18 August 2019 - 08:55 AM.


#17 25585

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 09:07 AM

An entry-level beginner would be far far better off with a modest 4-inch refractor or 8-inch reflector, and a couple of eyepieces. Off-the-shelf, turn-key equipment now-a-days is exceptionally inexpensive, by historical standards. Not all that long ago, nearly all amateurs built their scopes from scratch and junkyard parts... and processed images in the basement with film and chemicals.   Tom

How I started, and probably what I will return to. 

 

My eyes at 61, retired from a computer/number crunching job, are better. But all-nighters are less appealing, though I am a daytime sleeper as need arises.

 

Too much spent, but I want to build up memories and enjoy to the max what I can, while I can.  Climate/weather is the real obstacle, and human predators that may be in the dark away from home.  



#18 Cpk133

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 09:08 AM

Astronomy was never popular with youth.  The cool kids have always been the cool kids and astronomy kids were never the cool kids.

 

However, I would say that the market for astronomy is larger than ever, the market is just different--the hobby is different, too.  What has really changed is the consumer.  Clubs/meetups with a physical space are not as popular.

 

The Internet allows people to participate in the hobby without directly interacting [with other people].  The barrier for entry is ridiculously lower, in terms of acquiring equipment, information on how to use the equipment, and what to do with the equipment.

What I mean by not popular with the youth is the distribution of age is significantly skewed towards the high end.  When I joined an astronomy club, most of the guys were in their 50's.  20 years later, it's the same guys but now they're in their 70s.  Currently, there are a few of us in our 40s and 20 somethings and younger are like hen's teeth.  New members, many just starting astronomy are almost all seniors.  As far as being cool, we all know the cool kids are into astronomy, duh.  I'm not buying the argument that youth don't want human interaction.  In the USA, the demand for equipment is driven by aging baby boomers.  Maybe international demand is a different story.  


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#19 25585

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 10:58 AM

My brother & I started in our 20s, inspired by Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" TV series bow.gif . He went to uni, married a clingy scared girl afraid of the dark, and never regained his interest.

 

I continued through job changes but was too drained from my job & later parental care. Retirement has refuelled my interest, and no mortgage so just need more nights and energy, getting there.  

 

The space interest boom; Apollo, Voyager etc, no big comets etc has ended. People are more blasé, launches are everyday and commercial rather than national pride.

 

I also think there is a more general dumbing-down, political issues aside, and lack of wonder or caring for natural things. Being sensationsalised has gone.

 

Perhaps Dobs are too low tech and refractors too small or specialised. Robot mounts get more attention than the scopes on them.


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#20 decep

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 06:24 PM

What I mean by not popular with the youth is the distribution of age is significantly skewed towards the high end.  When I joined an astronomy club, most of the guys were in their 50's.  20 years later, it's the same guys but now they're in their 70s.  Currently, there are a few of us in our 40s and 20 somethings and younger are like hen's teeth.  New members, many just starting astronomy are almost all seniors.

I found your bias.  You are using the club as the sample to represent the overall market.  GenX and younger are just not represented in your sample because they are not joining clubs.

 

The same is true for the local club near me.  I went to a few meetings.  Mostly guys in their 60s-70s, many of which are founding members from 20 years prior, with a handful of 20-40 somethings.

 

Everybody was fairly welcoming, but there was a lot of casual "gate keeping" that was hard to overlook.


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#21 Cpk133

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 09:20 PM

I found your bias.  You are using the club as the sample to represent the overall market.  GenX and younger are just not represented in your sample because they are not joining clubs.

 

The same is true for the local club near me.  I went to a few meetings.  Mostly guys in their 60s-70s, many of which are founding members from 20 years prior, with a handful of 20-40 somethings.

 

Everybody was fairly welcoming, but there was a lot of casual "gate keeping" that was hard to overlook.

 

Look at the demographics on CN.  Our club has FB, Meetup etc.  Funny, when that ridiculous Pokémon go was all the rage, our observatory was a poke spot or whatever they called it.  We had young people pulling up to the observatory all hours of the day/night walking around like zombies looking for imaginary objects, phone in hand.  Go to NEAF sometime, looks like an AARP convention.  Don't get me wrong, I love my senior brothers and sisters in astronomy. I truly enjoy hanging out with people older and wiser than me.  But I think there's going to be a glut in the higher end stuff in another decade.


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#22 Cometeer

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 09:36 PM

Look at the demographics on CN. Our club has FB, Meetup etc. Funny, when that ridiculous Pokémon go was all the rage, our observatory was a poke spot or whatever they called it. We had young people pulling up to the observatory all hours of the day/night walking around like zombies looking for imaginary objects, phone in hand. Go to NEAF sometime, looks like an AARP convention. Don't get me wrong, I love my senior brothers and sisters in astronomy. I truly enjoy hanging out with people older and wiser than me. But I think there's going to be a glut in the higher end stuff in another decade.


While I agree that the demographic is skewed towards the upper age range, there are more young people in this hobby than the demographic on forums like CN might lead one to believe.

When my university astronomy club holds an Open House at our observatory, we have anywhere from 100-400 people drop by on nights of good observing conditions. Many of these folks are under 30 years old. Sure, many of them are curious to take a look through a telescope and don’t have the commitment to join the hobby, but there are a decent few that own telescopes themselves or would love to. It’s time and money that us younger folks don’t have. I’m fortunate to own several nice telescopes, but I can’t find the time to attend NEAF while school is in session.

As these young people age and find themselves with more spare time and money, they might find themselves turning towards a hobby that their lifestyle previously couldn’t support.

#23 TOMDEY

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 11:48 PM

It's a strange sociological thing --- almost everyone will say they are quite interested in astronomy... but almost no one actually will act upon that claimed interest... at all. I'm guessing that is because astronomy is supposed to be scientific and intellectual, the kinda thing a cultured, inquisitive person would pursue. Other things that people claim to favor, but don't really act upon:

 

>safe driving

>healthful eating

>significant, regular, structured exercise

>saving for retirement

>reading

>active lifestyle (vs vicariously watching others)

>donating ample time and $$$ to favored charities

>continuing education, "just because"

>conserving resources

>being scrupulously honest

>practicing the piano

>smoking Cuban cigars

 

What I'm saying... most people present a far brighter image than they live. And interest in astronomy, although arguably classy and noble... is already pretty low on the list!

 

And yeah, we here on CN are a pretty dinky, cloistered community of advocates. Look up into the night sky and we see no intelligent life out there. Look back down on earth and --- pretty much the same thing... No wonder SETI is forever doomed to come up empty handed!    Tom

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#24 Bowlerhat

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 03:50 AM

I always feel the demographic is older because when it gets serious astronomy is a pricey hobby. In the end, the price doesn't lie. The advice are either always starting at "minimum $500" or "even with $1000" which is not disposable that easily at first place. Of course it may feel not much when you already own a scope, but for those who are stepping in..not so much.

 

Most younger age started casually, and what I meant is casual is really casual. Something that doesn't need a monthly meeting to do so. And it's a niche hobby- to get started you'd need at least some knowledge about it. But people don't really talk about it. I never found out my friend is a planetary imager until one of his photo popped up on facebook.

 

But still, there are lots of younger generations, albeit not connected so much. Nowadays it takes less and less money to manufacture scopes and parts, I think the price will decline further. Moreover now it's cheaper than ever to get used scopes with a lot of online trading going on as well.


Edited by Bowlerhat, 19 August 2019 - 05:23 AM.

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#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 04:32 AM

I always feel the demographic is older because when it gets serious astronomy is a pricey hobby. In the end, the price doesn't lie

 

 

I see a couple of other factors. Time: This hobby requires time. Most younger people are busy with their families, friends, their jobs/careers. Staying up late to stargaze is not on the menu..

 

And the thrills.. they're subtle, no adrenalin rushes.. 

 

This is the results of informal surveys of members of Astromart and Cloudy Nights done maybe 10 years ago.. not so old.

 

1921807-Average age of astronomers CN.jpg
 
Jon

 


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