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S&T Hobby Killers identified!

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#1 Terra Nova

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:04 PM

https://www.skyandte...EMagYo.facebook

Again, we see the much maligned 60mm refractor and 0.965” eyepieces. All I can say is mine didn’t kill the hobby for me. I still have it (and use it!) 54 years later.

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Edited by Terra Nova, 29 November 2019 - 07:16 PM.

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#2 Russell Smith

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:13 PM

Yours is prettier than mine. 

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#3 coopman

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:16 PM

Back in the day, the 60mm refractor was the standard astronomy "gateway drug" that was readily available at Sears, Wilson's, Service Merchandise and other retailers. You could mail order them from Edmunds Scientific also.

Edited by coopman, 29 November 2019 - 10:30 PM.

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#4 MGAR

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:18 PM

I always say the best scope is the one you're using at the time. I have a Meade 60mm with 0.965 eyepieces and use it all the time, call me cheap but don't call me Shirley.

 

Gary


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#5 Terra Nova

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:20 PM

Back in the day the 60mm refractor was the standard astronomy "gateway drug" that was readily available at Sears, Wilson's, Service Merchandise and other retailers. You could mail order them from Edmunds Scientific also.

And just look at how many of us started out using them and are still looking up. Hobby Killer!? lalalala.gif


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#6 Kokatha man

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:21 PM

Well said Terra, although a quick skim through Jerry's article does qualify it somewhat.

 

In the "What did you observe..." thread a few nights back I appraised several of my 0.965" ep's in the Yamamoto SYW & the Huygens came out surprisingly well, despite his critique..! smile.gif

 

My little $30 Tasco/Towa 60mm frakky was pretty nice last week also...& the tiny EQ mount hand-tracked nicely! smile.gif

 

I guess the point is that folks should be aware of quality & some of the "El Cheapo" rubbish pumped out over the last decade or so ought to be avoided at all costs - but as connoisseurs of "Classics" we know that his article overlooks many fine small scopes from yesteryear..! wink.gif


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#7 DAVIDG

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:24 PM

 The issue to me is that with any telescope it needs to be easy to use.  The typical 60mm refractor many time has a shaky mount and ads with crazy claims of power.  Put in the hands of the inexperienced user and you get frustration and soon lack of interest.  Those of us here are pretty advanced so we know how to use a telescope and we can make a classic 60mm refractor   work at their potential. That can lead to bias on how easy they are to use. 

   The other issue is the difficulty in  finding objects in the sky, especially any they deepsky objects. Meade tried to address this with inexpensive GOTO scope but suffered again from flimsy mounts and somewhat difficult to use GOTO hand controllers.

   My club as a number loaner scopes and the ones that get used the most and especially by  beginners are two 6" f/8 Dobs. They have the easy of use factor and enough aperture to see many deepsky objects. 

 

              - Dave 


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#8 clamchip

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:47 PM

I ended up with not a refractor but a 60mm reflector, 2-1/2 inch if you get out a ruler.

I was a happy kid I remember it well.

On the other hand, I could never quite get over the frog in the jar that came with my Tasco

microscope, (1966) kinda tarnished that hobby ever so slightly.

I still have both instruments, and the frog in the jar.

Robert

 

post-50896-0-27052500-1463009039_thumb.jpg

 

 


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#9 Scott in NC

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:50 PM

I started with a Sears 60mm f/11.7 alt-az refractor on a spindly, wobbly tripod, 40 years ago in 1979.  It was horrible in retrospect.  And I could barely find anything with it, the eyepieces and finder were so poor.  But you know what?  It gave me my first views of Mars's polar cap, Jupiter's bands and moons, and Saturn's rings, and got me hooked on this great hobby.  And although I don't use that scope anymore, it still has a prominent place in my home office for display.  I owe a lot to that little scope, and to my parents who bought it for me.  Hobby killer? Far from it!


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#10 bbqediguana

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:55 PM

I recall observing with a good friend at her farm, and she pulled out two Jason 60mm telescopes - they were both "junky" on shaky alt-az mounts and spindly tripods.

 

However... they both had 1.25" focusers (even though one used a 0.965" diagonal and eyepieces!) - I grabbed some of my Plössls and the views were fairly decent once the mount settled down. My friend was frankly surprised and amazed at what she could see through them versus what was visible through the original eyepieces.

 

She then bought my 10" Dob off me and she's had a smile on her face ever since! smile.gif

 

To me, often the "department store" scopes will deliver decent performance given a sturdier mount and some better (ie: non-plastic lens) eyepieces (unless the object lens is plastic - which I have seen!).

 

Cheers!

Rick


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#11 bbqediguana

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:57 PM

I started with a Sears 60mm f/11.7 alt-az refractor on a spindly, wobbly tripod, 40 years ago in 1979.  It was horrible in retrospect.  And I could barely find anything with it, the eyepieces and finder were so poor.  But you know what?  It gave me my first views of Mars's polar cap, Jupiter's bands and moons, and Saturn's rings, and got me hooked on this great hobby.  And although I don't use that scope anymore, it still has a prominent place in my home office for display.  I owe a lot to that little scope, and the parents who bought it for me.  Hobby killer? Far from it!

Indeed! I actually probably started with the WORST telescope - a 40mm reflector that had a PLASTIC SQUARE secondary that had some reflective tape for a mirror on it. But like you, that showed me the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, many craters on the Moon and it ignited a passion for astronomy in me that burns 40 years later.

 

Sears 100x Telescope
 
Cheers!

Rick

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#12 MGAR

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 08:11 PM

My first was a 50mm Japanese refractor on a yoke table-top tripod, non removable straight-through eyepiece. A real pain to use but my first view of the moon was spectacular, me laying flat on the sidewalk looking into the sky and seeing  those craters for the first time.

 

Yes a pain to use but that didn't stop me. 

 

Gary


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#13 vtornado

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 08:19 PM

As already said,I had a  60mm refractor in the 70's.  Objective was good.  mount, eyepieces and focuser were bad.

My dad brought home a 20mm microscope eyepiece he got from work.  Wow what a difference.


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#14 jgraham

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 08:22 PM

That article tore my heart out. When I was a young star-struck amateur astronomer wannabe those long white tubes and the Sears Christmas catalog were the stuff that dreams were made of. Some of my fondest memories are of my father's 50x 50mm Sears refractor on its wibbly wobbly mount, and later of my own 40x 40mm refractor that I bought from a pawn shop with money that I earned from mowing lawns and pop bottle deposites. I agree with many of the points raised in the article, except with the idea of a 'hobby killer'. That got my blood boiling. My mother was busy trying to feed a family of 8 kids on $20 per week. There wasn't money to spend on something as frivolous as telescope, let alone a 'hobby killer'. Instead, she encouraged us to do the best we could with what we had and to make up in patience and perseverance what we lacked in resources. Those formative years led to over 30 years of telescope making and a career in basic and applied research (42 years and counting). The idea that we have to coddle our young people and to protect them from intellectual challenges is disturbing. I hate to break the news to the author that there are young families out there that can't afford one of his ideal starter telescopes. What are they supposed to do? Been there done that, bought a 'hobby killer', loved every minute of it.

 

A couple of decades ago I decided to revisit my youth and bought a couple of 'hobby killers'; a 60mm altaz and an eq Tasco Luminova. I have since bought and restored a couple of others. Yep, wibbly wobbly, and they greatly benefit from even the cheapest modern eyepiece. But with a light touch and a little patience they do a fine job showing the craters on the moon, the moons of Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn, just as the Sears Christmas catalog promised. smile.gif

 

We do a lot of outreach and I specialize in working with kids and young families. When we talk about what telescopes to buy we start with what places like Orion has to offer and telescopes like the StarBlast and 90mm tabletop Mak are popular choices. However, if a family shows up with a 'hobby killer' I start at the begining and show them how to set it up, point it, focus it, and help them find at lease one affordable low power eyepiece. Most of the time all they want to do is to look at the moon, the planets are a bonus, and even the worst of the 'hobby killers' can do that. With that, the seeds have been planted and the garden begins to grow. The idea that this hinges on choosing this or that telescope is misguided. Even the author admits that his first telescope was a 'hobby killer', but no permanent harm was done. A lot of us started there. As far as 'hobby killers' go I probably know just about as many people who bought and never learned how to use 8" SCTs as bought and never learned how to use a small refractor.

 

The bug either bites or it doesn't. I don't think that the choice of equipment has a lot to do with it. Then again, I could be wrong. :/

 

Food for thought, dine carefully.

 

P.S.

 

My latest refurb...

 

Orion 60mm f_15 (10-19-2019)-2.jpg

 

Orion 60mm f_15 (11-3-2019)-2.jpg

 

This an older Orion 60mm f/15 complete with 0.965" drawtube. This was a rescue that I retrieved from a neighbor's trash. It was missing the star diagonal, finder, and slow motion cables. I replaced the finder with a laser pointer, installed a 1.25" conversion diagonal, and added knobs in place of the cables. As I had hoped, the optics are excellent and it makes a great grab'n go scope. I wouldn't necessarily recommend something like this as a first telescope, but if a family comes to one of our outreach event with one I'll show them how to use it. In this case, the family had grade school kids and I initially was going to fix this scope up and give it back to them. Unfortunately, at some point the declination lock was over-tightened and damaged the axis. I can work around it, but it was just too much fiddling for the kids, so I bought them an Orion 90mm tabletop Mak. It seemed like a fair trade to me. :)

 


Edited by jgraham, 29 November 2019 - 08:36 PM.

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#15 fcathell

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 08:54 PM

What helps to really kill the potential new sky gazing hobby is a complete lack of knowledge or familiarity of the sky when attempting to use that new, low cost scope.  Luckily the next door neighbor to me when I was a kid in elementary school was an old retired man who was very knowledgeable about the sky.  He taught me the major constellations and the associated 1st magnitude star names. I was familiar with the sky to some extent before I got my hands on an old Tasco 60mm, F/15 refractor.  It actually enhanced my interest after using it.

 

Frank


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#16 John Higbee

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 09:53 PM

Got this one (a TOWA Model 305) in Gettysburg, PA, after watching it languish on Craigslist for four months.  A beautiful 60mm f/15 with all of the accessories, in a wooden box (the only way it could have been better is with wooden, vice styrofoam, interior packing).  The silver-gray on black finish is really elegant! 

 

Gives great images, and the GEM/wooden tripod are first rate!  My eldest daughter has it, and periodically takes her four kids moon and planet gazing with it!

 

some pictures...enjoy!  John

 

305 accessory tray - Copy.jpg

 

Towa 305 assembled (3).jpg

 

mount.jpg


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#17 rolo

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 09:55 PM

I just got an Nippon Kogaku 65mm hobby killer today....


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#18 rcwolpert

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 10:05 PM

What’s killing astronomy is not small aperture refractors and 0.925 eyepieces, it’s the ever spreading severe light pollution taking away the dark skies that we used to enjoy. The one thing I could agree with was the comments on the Bird Jones scopes! smile.gif


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#19 markb

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 10:13 PM

Rick's 40mm reflector, post #11,  sure beat mine, a Tasco 60mm, lens elements cemented .5mm off axis, erecting variable magnification on a simple yoke (joke?) mount. With those great H and K .965 eyepieces. But Mom and Dad tried their best.

 

I struggled with it off and on for years, and the Moon always was a safe view. But everything else was so dim, particularly battling our skies on the JFK landing pattern (i.e., bright doesn't even START to describe them). I eventually chopped the tube and removed the erector/mag. slider with its 1or 2mm aperture, and figured out why it was so awful.

 

If I had been gifted with even a 60mm on an EQ mount with decent legs I would have been quite happy, and not frustrated by the equipment, just my local conditions. And the dark(er) beach was just 20 minutes away...  The 76mm Sears 6339a eq RAO I just sold would have been heaven.

 

My unusable, rough-corrector, B&L 6" waste of cash didn't help when I tried to do it right.

 

But I have had some lovely scopes since then, and just struggle with bright, unstable skies due to my location. That taste from the Tasco kept me trying.

 

I do disagree with some of the recommendations thoigh.

 

I would NOT recommend an alt az, generically, to a starter who has no clue about the massive difference between a garbage yoke, even the horrifically bad Meade computerized ones that appeared a couple of decades ago, and an affordable zero friction quality Alt az mount.

 

Largely due to the importance of the tripod and mount in the happy-observer equation, I have recommended Nexstar 5s or 8s (newest versions), Astroscans, dobs and the well regarded AWB mini dob to tyros, to avoid discoving, too late, the need to spend as much or more on the mount as the scope. And, if budget limited, 3 plossls or 2 and a good barlow. If the beginner is awash in cash, then the dobs but bigger, or a 90-100 f5-6 apo on a quality Alt az, or 80-100 apo 45 degree binos with the alt az,at least TV plossls or better/wider.

 

The Nexstar combines with the 'modern planisphere', BT driven SkySafari, to help with the education part. Which not everyone cares for. Different strokes and all.

 

Every hobby or sports have tried was far, far, far more enjoyable with mid to high level equipment than the usual trash recommended to beginners to 'learn on'. Too many people simply 'learn' to get a new, more enjoyable, hobby. One of the great strengths of starting by joining a club.


Edited by markb, 29 November 2019 - 10:19 PM.

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#20 sunnyday

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 10:29 PM

thank you for the memories
nice post



#21 John Higbee

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 10:33 PM

Got this one (a TOWA Model 305) in Gettysburg, PA, after watching it languish on Craigslist for four months.  A beautiful 60mm f/15 with all of the accessories, in a wooden box (the only way it could have been better is with wooden, vice styrofoam, interior packing).  The silver-gray on black finish is really elegant! 

 

Gives great images, and the GEM/wooden tripod are first rate!  My eldest daughter has it, and periodically takes her four kids moon and planet gazing with it!

 

some pictures...enjoy!  John

 

attachicon.gif 305 accessory tray - Copy.jpg

 

attachicon.gif Towa 305 assembled (3).jpg

 

attachicon.gif mount.jpg

CN thread:  https://www.cloudyni...eresting-find/ 



#22 clamchip

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 10:43 PM

Here's my Harmonic Reed 60mm newt eyepiece.

Yes that's the focuser tube and AdjustO' Matic eyepiece.

You can increase magnification by sliding the field lens in or out.

I survived, I love Astronomy to this day.

Thank you Edmund Scientific, A. Jaegers, Herbert S. Zim.

Robert

post-50896-14074277752198_thumb.jpg

post-50896-14074277746471_thumb.jpg


Edited by clamchip, 29 November 2019 - 10:49 PM.

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#23 ccwemyss

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 11:27 PM

My first scope was a 60mm Tasco 9TE-5, with the metal legs. As I've mentioned before it taught me quite a bit, like the meaning of "chromatic aberration" (I never knew the moon had so much purple and yellow), the importance of a solid mount (one where you didn't have to lock the altitude with the object above the field of view, so it would sag into it), the difference a good tripod makes (where the settling time is less than the time it takes an object to drift out of the field of the lowest power eyepiece), and the value of an equatorial mount (only having to wait for one axis to settle, instead of two). 

 

Fortunately, there was the space program to drive the excitement, so I was determined to get something better, and saved for a year to buy a 4.25" Edmund. 

 

But if I had started with a Shrine-Manon (or one of the equivalents) instead, I think I would have been quite happy to stay with it. Those just weren't available in the stores in our town. 

 

I get where the article is coming from -- most of the department store refractors today have poor optics on flimsy mounts and tripods. The Simmons that a friend found for me at the dump, whose legs are now with a Sky Chief Junior, has a lousy objective in a plastic cell, and an equatorial mount with rough motions. It could easily be a hobby killer.

 

A tabletop reflector is a much better choice in that price range. The only problem I've found with them (the school has some) is that they don't take much magnification. They are easy to use for sweeping but, at least the ones we have, don't give very good views of lunar detail, planets, or double stars. 

 

I think it also makes a good point that going overboard at the start can just as easily be a hobby killer. Buying a child a reflector that's taller than they are is probably not a great idea.

 

Chip W. 


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#24 vahe

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 12:24 AM

Sky & Tel came down hard on 0.965" teeny-weeny eyepieces as well, "which are almost always garbage", my finest planetary eyepieces happen to be Pentax 0.965" Orthos, the entire set in pairs for binoviewing, I suppose like everything else there are exceptions.

.

Vahe


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#25 rolo

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Posted 30 November 2019 - 12:42 AM

Sky & Tel came down hard on 0.965" teeny-weeny eyepieces as well, "which are almost always garbage", my finest planetary eyepieces happen to be Pentax 0.965" Orthos, the entire set in pairs for binoviewing, I suppose like everything else there are exceptions.

.

Vahe

I think he's referring to the Huygens Ramsded and SR which are pretty bad. Take a narrow field and couple that with a shaky mount and it's a hobby killer for sure.




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