Long time lurker, first time registrant. I appreciate the quality of postings and individuals on cloudynights! I'm looking to tap into this resource to help me on a few decisions:
- I'm outside of Pittsburgh, in a Bortle 6 suburb.
- We're also on a wooded street, and with our lot and perspective we don't have a lot of "open sky" around us.
- I have two boys, 6 and 8 years old. They have just a little bit of astronomy exposure through field trips, but a lot of questions!
- Over the next few years/decade, I want to build a better understanding of astronomy, our place in the universe, and open their minds a bit to some larger questions. An appreciation for the expansiveness of the universe and our place in it. You know, all that "it's not all about you" type stuff.
- I'm expecting some use at home (planetary, moon, etc.), but probably more opportunistic types of situations where we're away from home and packing the scope with us on vacations/weekends.
- We do a bit of camping, take vacations to the wilderness/mountains, and generally travel a good amount within 10-12 hours from our home. I have a large pickup with a covered & sealed bed, so transport of things isn't an issue. There's also bags and other stuff in that truck, so can't be SO large that it takes half the bed.
- For this use case, I'm not interested in Astrophotography - purely visual. In fact, with younger kids, the brighter and more impactful the visual the better. Viewing on a smartphone screen or similar would be fine as well. I really want to lower the barrier for them to explore and view more than small blurs. I'd like for them to see at least brighter deep sky objects, but even beyond would be interesting.
- At first I was thinking a "GoTo" situation, but I heard some great feedback from individuals on here with kids around my age that this type of device may reduce their interest in the hobby. I'm beginning to agree - discovering the sky, finding objects is part of the journey. I think something manual will be more engaging and interesting vs. a motor finding something and me constantly saying "Don't move the scope!" where they're a participant.
- However, I have seen some GoTo situations where you can use either the electronics or move manually without having to recalibrate (the Orion Starseeker IV comes to mind). This may be a great compromise and way for us to enjoy the best of both situations.
- I would purchase travel cases.
- I don't have a budget in mind. I'm equally open to spending a small amount of money for a "first scope" or $1,500-$2,000 on something if we think it's the right solution for the next 10 years.
- Travel capable scope, less calibration/adjustments/fiddling time vs. exploration time, young hands exploring and using, visual only/no photography.
I have some thoughts, but I don't wait to lead the group. I'm also inexperienced in this - my last telescope was a 6" Meade back in 1985. What would everyone suggest? Thank you all in advance!