I suppose it would be heresy to suggest a Celestron C-90 Mak as a first scope, but I’m going to anyway. Around $200, comes with two pretty good eyepieces, an erecting 45° diagonal and has a lifetime warranty. Adding a 2X Barlow gives the end user 4 different magnifications. High contrast ultra sharp images with no chromic aberration. I’ve dropped mine and collimation stayed dead on. Light and sturdy. I absolutely love mine, and like Charlton Heston you can have mine when you pry it from my cold dead hands. All the scope needs is a real tripod as the one that ships with the scope is absolute junk. I’m about to order a iOptron CEM25P goto equatorial mount and end my frustrations with finding and staying locked on to a target. I think the short little scope will shine like Vega on that mount.
Dad needs help.....
Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:28 AM
In about a week and a half I'll be heading to Omaha, NE for a weekend soccer tournament and possibly can expand my search there too.
Contact the Omaha Astronomical Society (OmahaAstro@OmahaAstro.com) and see if any of the members would be willing show you their smaller scopes while you are in town. In particular, several active members have purchased the Astronomers without Borders OneSky collapsible Newtonian, which might make a good inexpensive scope for you and your son. I'm out of town on the weekend of October 19-20, unfortunately, or I'd be happy to meet up with you and let you test-drive mine.
Edited by Diana N, 09 October 2019 - 08:27 PM.
Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:48 AM
OK, now that we have some budget idea, here are some suggestions.
Your first experience is with a little tabletop Dobsonian type telescope. Small, easy to take out, and your son can use it with little supervision.
Essentially this is the package you borrowed from the Library. Familiarity may be the overriding value here and it has everything you need.
If you want to get a little more capable scope that can be primarily his, for a low cost, that is similar to what he has used but with more aperture, then the Orion SkyScanner 100 will work. I have one. I have included a lot of info on this scope.
Think of this as his first scope upgrade that you use together. In short order he can use this one by himself as you look for something larger for you. Then you can be out there together. If he tires of it, then you take over. The investment is low and the fun factor is high for a child.
Here is the review I wrote about the SkyScanner 100
Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope - 6.2 pounds – $110
Optimized for under 100X wide view but I feel it works up to about 150X with a very solid base.
Includes 2 eyepieces and a finder scope.
Can also be mounted on a camera tripod or any mount with a dovetail.
Consider adding a Celestron 8-24 zoom or a 14-16 mm Plossl and 3X barlow in the future.
This is a kit version that makes the overall package similar to the Fun Scope you got from the Library but with more aperture.
If you want something more oriented to you, in your budget range, consider these. They are larger and really need you to manage them with him. This would be a shared scope that he might be able to take over in a year or so as you look for a bigger one for you.
AWB 'ONESKY' REFLECTOR TELESCOPE – Tabletop - 130 mm - 14 pounds – $199
Reviewed in Dec 2015 Sky and Telescope – gets many good reviews. Collapsing design makes it very compact for storage and for transport. Includes finder scope and 2 eyepieces
Frequent out of stock situations so plan your purchase.
Consider adding a 2X barlow in the future
Meade Infinity 90mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope - 600 mm FL - About 12 pounds $189
Received Sky and Telescope Innovative Astronomy Gear in Jan 2016.
Includes slow motion controls, finder scope, 3 eyepieces and a 2X barlow for 6 magnifications.
These are Daddy Scopes
Skywatcher 6” Dobsonian – $315, about 34 pounds ( can be moved in two pieces)
Includes 2 Plossl eyepieces, 2” focuser with 1.25” adapter, 6X30 finder scope, tension adjustment knob
Meade Startnavigator 102 NG Goto refractor – $399
Set-up and align
Video – this is the earlier StarNavigator 102 – prior to the newer NG
Edited by aeajr, 09 October 2019 - 03:45 PM.
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Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:18 PM
Perfect size and decent light weight for the young lad.
Far exceeds at what you will think of it.
All kinds of mods can be done to it, but not really necessary.
Enough aperture for good DSO viewing.
Get a decent 2X barlow for more power.
I have one and love it.
Check out this great thread to see what
everyone thinks of it.
Shows all the mods people are doing to it.
(Not really necessary, but some are helpful)
$200 shipped, cant beat it.
It's cute too!
Edited by Lighthound, 09 October 2019 - 08:31 PM.
- BFaucett likes this
Posted 09 October 2019 - 08:55 PM
Stay away from the ETX scopes, especially the 70 - was a hobby killer for me (bought new for $425 and not working out-of-the-box)....
Did you return it as defective?
I've purchased many things that failed first time out of the box and returned them, no real issue to cause me to not want to continue on that particular endeavor, what ever it was.
Sometimes I'll make it work rather than deal with a vendor or shipping, guess it depends on what you want to make of a hobby.
And sometimes it's working right out of the box and I'll figure a way for it to function better,,,,,,,,,
Except for cats, they're broken when you get them cause you have to have them fixed in six months of getting a new one,,,,,,,,,
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Posted 09 October 2019 - 10:59 PM
I know I'm just one voice in a crowd, but please buy this telescope:
If the link doesn't work, it's a 6-inch dobsonian telescope with accessories from telescope.com for $300 shipped.
You will want at least 150mm (6 inches) of aperture to really open up your options on deep sky. While table top telescopes open up options, they are awkward to look through and/or shaking the table is problematic. Other's advice that an EQ telescope is to be avoided is correct...you want something like a dobsonian or an alt-az mount. My recommendation iis an f8 scope. This will be fast enough to help you find deep sky objects with a chart, but slow enough to really give good views of the planets. Also, a slower dob like this tends to have better optical quality because it's harder to screw it up in manufacturing.
In the old days, the 6-inch dob was the recommended first scope. now there are more options, but i still think the old ways are best.
Edited by stevereecy, 09 October 2019 - 11:03 PM.
Posted 10 October 2019 - 03:06 AM
Any Newtonian, or "Dobsonian", at 130mm, at a minimum of f/5, as well as those of larger apertures and slower focal-ratios, would be an ideal, to hold the interest of both observers.
Forget the 100mm and 114mm f/4 Newtonians. Pass them by; run from them even.
A 6" f/8 Newtonian has been a sound recommendation for decades...
But nowadays, the mounts for these telescopes are not as heavy, not nearly as expensive...
...and that one over the Orion XT6. Aside from that, either would be easier to collimate, when required.
That would be a kit with which to grow, as the child ages, and as the parent greys. Presently, the eyepiece placement would encourage a young child to climb up, and thereby ever upwards towards the sky. Such would also help to instill a work-ethic, in their having to work their way up to the eyepiece, and then to see glory. In the beginning, a small set of steps can be bought or made, three to four, and to assist in the ascent.
Posted 10 October 2019 - 07:21 AM
Our local library system here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota put together two backpacks kids are allowed to check out of the library for a week in celebration of the Apollo 11's 50th anniversary. Earlier this year, we had a chance to see the Apollo 11 Documentary at the Omni Theater and it really sparked his interest which is why I put my name on the list for the backpack.
Now, I know absolutely nothing about telescopes. I've done some google searching for my area, and there aren't really any local clubs, and I believe zero stores locally that have equipment. (tried doing my due diligence for some hands on learning and allow us to see what there is for telescopes) I've done the local facebook marketplace search and only turned up one model....an orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope (she is asking aroun 130). The one with the backpack has been fun for him to view the moon with all the charts included, however it seems to go that I find the moon, he comes over to view and bumps it in excitement and we start looking for it again. In about a week and a half I'll be heading to Omaha, NE for a weekend soccer tournament and possibly can expand my search there too.
Ideally, I'd like something a little more portable to where we can head out of town to get away from the light and I'm not looking to break the bank just yet and something not to complicated either that a 6 year old could run with help from dad. (he's one to like to turn some dials and do it himself also). Maybe a little bit bigger/better to allow us to see more stuff than just the moon? Again, no idea on need vs want and brands...so I have no idea what I am looking to spend.....just trying to continue to fan the flames of something he enjoys. Buying used vs new for a first scope?
I'm sure there are other questions I'm missing out on asking, but this is a good starting point I hope.....
I am going to step away from the telescope question. I addressed that in post 28. Let's address using a telescope.
How to Use a Telescope: First Time User’s Guide
Basic, manual telescopes, on an AltAz mount, like a camera tripod, (not equatorial mount) are pretty simple to operate. That little table top scope was on an AltAz mount. Altitude is up and down. Azimuth is side to side. AltAz.
Simply point the scope at something and look through the eyepiece. Move a little to the side from time to time and a little up or down to track it as it moves through the sky.
The little scope you got from the library is a good example. If you found the Moon and then tracked it, you already know how to to this.
Even that little library scope, like the first package I mentioned in post 28, can be used to view more than the Moon. You can view planets and open star clusters, bright nebula, easier to split double stars, brighter globular clusters. It doesn't take a lot of aperture to see them. Some can be seen in 7X35 binoculars.
In cars we speak of how powerful the car is by talking about horsepower. In telescopes we talk about how powerful it is in aperture. The more aperture you have, the bigger that front lens on a refractor, the more powerful it is. On a reflector aperture is a measure of the mirror as that is what gathers the light. The more you gather the more detail you can see and the higher the magnification you can apply, up to limits imposed by the atmosphere. The more light you gather the dimmer the objects you can see.
However, with a manual telescope, you have to find the objects and then point the scope at them. Some things you can see with your eyes and those are easy to target. There was probably a red dot finder on that little scope. If the finder is properly aligned, like the sites on a gun, put the dot on the target, then look through the eyepiece and you see it, brighter and magnified. Even a 6 year old can learn to do this.
So, what you lack today, is an understanding of what can be seen and how to find it when it is not visible to the naked eye. That is a skill you will need to develop with any manual telescope. There are several methods that you can learn and teach. It just takes some time and practice but they work with any telescope.
With a computerized scope you need to learn the alignment process. Not something a 6 year old is likely to grasp. But once the 5 minute alignment process is complete the mount will point the scope at the target for you. It finds the targets. You may need to do some slight adjustment to get it centered, but the scope finds it for you and then it tracks it for you. But you don't hand a computerized system to a 6 year old and expect success.
I hope that was helpful.
Edited by aeajr, 10 October 2019 - 08:04 AM.
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Posted 10 October 2019 - 07:27 AM
easy to make up your mind Steve?
As you can see, there are literally a hundred scopes available in your price range and this is why I suggest not to buy a thing until you have a bit more hobby knowledge.
You can't jump into any side of the pool without a PFD.
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Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:01 AM
I think it's clear that if the OP wants a scope that his son can play an active role in operating at the tender age of 6, anything computerized is OUT. That's a Dad Scope. So it really comes down to how large an alt-az refractor or Dobsonian reflector the OP thinks his son can handle (maybe with a little help from Dad in moving the scope from place to place). A short-tube refractor on a tripod, any of the tabletop Dobs, or the Orion XT4.5 are all likely to be good choices. Save anything bigger and/or fancier for later, when the boy has grown more and will be more capable of handling larger or computerized scopes (unless Dad decides he wants a Dad Scope for himself, which he can then share with his son when the boy is old enough).
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Posted 10 October 2019 - 04:05 PM
I would add to the voices recommending the OneSky. Basically a big brother to the library scope. Not too much bigger or heavier, but packs a lot more punch with regards to seeing stuff.
It is an easy size to transport, is easy to set-up, and is easy to use. The forum link listed by others will show how to turn it from a basic scope to a real performer. Many experienced people in the hobby use it as a travel scope. That will give Dad something to play with too. If sat on the ground or a short stool, it will be at a good height for the 6 year old.
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