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Why Do They Market Bird Jones to Beginners?

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#1 kel123

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 05:11 PM

I am just wondering aloud why and how telescopes makers like Celestron and Meade find it wise to make and market very poorly designed and cheap Bird Jones Newtonian telescopes to beginners.

The strange part is that they never mention it anywhere in the description to the hapless budding astronomer that what they may be buying is a not a regular reflector but something that has a lot of downsides if poorly executed.

Isn't this a disservice to the hobby? I think it is just unfair. At the very least , they should mention the words "bird jones type",somewhere in the data sheet.
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#2 siriusandthepup

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 06:00 PM

Disgraceful?

 

Unethical?

 

Shameful?

 

YES.

 

If I were a telescope manufacturer, I would be embarrassed to sell such an item, especially to beginners - the most vulnerable of the amateur astronomers.

 

Manufacturers know there is a market for inexpensive beginner telescopes AND they have the capability to design and produce a simple, inexpensive, well designed telescope.

 

Bird Jones is not a design that can be produced to fill that need. -  Manufacturers - STOP doing it. It just makes you look like you are a stupid, uncaring producer of astronomy equipment.

 

And just to be fair - you resellers can do your part here as well - Resellers - STOP reselling them!!! I just makes you look like a stupid, uncaring supplier.

 

Both manufacturers and resellers can participate to clean up their reputations by deleting this one infamous item from all our lives.

 

Clarification: This is not an attack on the Jones Bird design. This is an attack on CHEAP Jones Bird telescopes. Chance of producing a cheap, reliable, good performing telescope is virtually ZERO.

 

OK <off my soapbox for now>


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#3 kel123

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 06:15 PM

My point exactly. Average performing, inexpensive Bird Jones is not even possible. Only the focuser of a well-executed bird Jones should even be more expensive than a whole beginner telescope and mount put together .

#4 JohnBear

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 06:48 PM

Answer: Easy Profit.

They can market cheap $40-50 telescope packages for at least $100 to a large number first time buyers that won't ever know any better.  

It is a little known fact gramps.gif that manufacturers and distributors of cheap telescopes to the USA are actually illegal immigrants from Ferenginar that settled in Asia.   Eyecrazy.gif  


Edited by JohnBear, 20 May 2020 - 06:49 PM.

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#5 ponybird

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:02 PM

I've seen these sentiments toward Bird-Jones type reflectors several times. Jeez, I probably almost bought one when I was shopping around not knowing which ones were and were not before buying a nice dob.  Is there a list of these type scopes somewhere in CN so folks know which ones they are? I think it would be mighty helpful to new, or in my case renewed enthusiasts.

Thanks



#6 KidOrion

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:24 PM

Thread title is two words too long.


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#7 JohnBear

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:06 PM

 

Is there a list of these type scopes somewhere in CN so folks know which ones they are? I think it would be mighty helpful to new, or in my case renewed enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, if CN published such a "Do Not Buy These Telescopes"  list, they would be sued for making unjust and disparaging remarks about the Ferengi telescope marketing community. 

 

Cheap B-J telescopes are easy to spot, however, since the length of the Optical tube is approximately one half the listed focal length. So if you see a "cute little" bargain  1000mm (39") focal length Newtonian reflector telescope package (like the Powerseeker 127) with the actual tube length being only only about 500 mm (18"), you should be aware (beware) that "something is amiss" if it cost less than $300. This disparity is due to a cheap barlow lens placed in the focuser to make it a "short tube" reflector (sometimes misrepresented as a "catadioptic reflector") along with other hidden cost cutting measures that cause such telescopes to be disparaged by the experienced astronomer community. 


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#8 BDS316

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:08 PM

Shame on Celestron especially for offering these trash scopes. Celestron is fully capable of making an excellent beginner scope, the Astronomers without Borders One Sky 5 inch mini Dob.

 

Our astronomy club has a scope clinic.  We have seen many Jones Bird scopes.  Usually the same story;  people say they have a great new telescope but they're not very good at using it.  They think it's somehow their fault.  

 

Again, shame on the companies that are capable of turning out good beginner scopes and still sell this kind of trash.

 

I recall at one point one of the big retailers, Hayneedle, proclaimed the Jones Bird scope their "Telescope of the Year".  Sad.


Edited by BDS316, 21 May 2020 - 01:28 PM.


#9 Anony

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:54 PM

Wouldn't telescope manufacturers make more money in the longrun by selling decent starter scopes vs hobby killer scopes?

 

It's not like a beginner who gets a junk scope would then turn around and plunk down $500-1K on another scope. More likely than not it goes in a closet or the curb and that customer is lost for life.

 

What is the reasoning behind it then? Short term profits is all that matters?

 

And I don't know the economics of it, and as a beginner myself don't know the reasoning, but I also don't quite get why most starter scopes have the worst mounts imaginable. Are mini-dob bases (like what the AWB, eclipseview, goscope etc) use overly expensive? A mini dob tabletop that works is a zillion times better than a mount/tripod that barely can hold the scope.



#10 JohnBear

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 12:12 AM

Table top "min Dobs" of 5-6" aperture are really great portable scopes, and the bases are every bit as good/stable as on the big dobs (probably better) and offer excellent Bang for the Buck.



#11 CrazyPanda

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 01:23 AM

I am just wondering aloud why and how telescopes makers like Celestron and Meade find it wise to make and market very poorly designed and cheap Bird Jones Newtonian telescopes to beginners.

The strange part is that they never mention it anywhere in the description to the hapless budding astronomer that what they may be buying is a not a regular reflector but something that has a lot of downsides if poorly executed.

Isn't this a disservice to the hobby? I think it is just unfair. At the very least , they should mention the words "bird jones type",somewhere in the data sheet.

 

Wouldn't telescope manufacturers make more money in the longrun by selling decent starter scopes vs hobby killer scopes?

 

It's not like a beginner who gets a junk scope would then turn around and plunk down $500-1K on another scope. More likely than not it goes in a closet or the curb and that customer is lost for life.

 

What is the reasoning behind it then? Short term profits is all that matters?

 

And I don't know the economics of it, and as a beginner myself don't know the reasoning, but I also don't quite get why most starter scopes have the worst mounts imaginable. Are mini-dob bases (like what the AWB, eclipseview, goscope etc) use overly expensive? A mini dob tabletop that works is a zillion times better than a mount/tripod that barely can hold the scope.

I've wondered this myself.

What I cannot fathom is how it's economically feasible to continue producing entry-level equatorial mounts. More parts to make, more labor time in assembly, and more shipping weight.

 

Wobbly nonsense aside, they are horrendously unintuitive for beginners, and the only scopes that aren't a pain to look through are Maks and SCTs. Newts end up with focusers in all kinds of awkward positions, and refractors end up with finder scopes and focusers that are a couple feet off the ground when aimed at the zenith. EQ mounts are just a raw deal for most situations.

 

Surely if you put the same manufacturing cost and shipping weight into an improved tripod alt-az mount, you could make it far more sturdy than either the current cheapo alt-az heads and equatorial mounts, and not only would it lend itself to a simpler, more intuitive user experience for new observers, it would also eliminate a lot of the wobbliness.

 

Then pair that with reasonable quality scopes with reasonable starter eyepieces, and you might be able to actually foster some more interest.

 

I would love to see something like a Z130 riding on something a bit more robust than a Twilight Nano (something between a Nano and One). You can't tell me that if you really mass produced such a mount, that you couldn't get the cost down to the same or lower than what it takes to make entry-level EQ mounts.

 

Then you could have a 5" F/5 parabolic newt (which is capable starter instrument), riding on a reasonable quality alt-az tripod mount that doesn't require you to set up a heavy stool to bring it to reasonable viewing height while keeping it stable.



#12 wky46

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 09:23 AM

Could work both ways, though.

That first view of the moon and then Saturn or that feeling of accomplishment after finding M31 in that cheapo telescope either hooks you into the hobby or doesnt

Look at all the money we’ve spent upgrading 

 


Edited by wky46, 22 May 2020 - 08:14 AM.


#13 rowdy388

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 09:41 AM

I tried collimating a B-J scope once. What a pain. If it was my scope it would have gone straight 

into the trash. If I was twelve years old again with no money or experience I might think a little

differently but they still belong in the toy telescope class and end up disappointing most people.

I wish they would stop making them.


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#14 ponybird

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:08 AM

Ferengi telescope marketing community.

Haha. Had to google 'Ferengi'...perfect!


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#15 Auburn80

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:17 AM

What's sad is that the average reviews are 4/5 on Amazon. I'm sure a part of it is the typical beginner response to actually seeing the moon thru a telescope of their very own.
Personal experience: a fellow sailing club member has a son - 10 years old at the time. Received one of these for Christmas from Grandpa. Very difficult for them to set up, find and observe anything. Quite a long fl was part of the problem along with a poor finder and wobbly mount. I offered help with it but they lived >100 miles away so we weren't able to get together before my friend was reassigned overseas.

#16 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 10:38 AM

Why sell Bird Jones? Why sell 60mm refractors with bad tolerances?

They argue people can't afford good stuff, but they wont enjoy bad stuff.
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#17 kel123

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 01:47 PM

What's sad is that the average reviews are 4/5 on Amazon. I'm sure a part of it is the typical beginner response to actually seeing the moon thru a telescope of their very own.
Personal experience: a fellow sailing club member has a son - 10 years old at the time. Received one of these for Christmas from Grandpa. Very difficult for them to set up, find and observe anything. Quite a long fl was part of the problem along with a poor finder and wobbly mount. I offered help with it but they lived >100 miles away so we weren't able to get together before my friend was reassigned overseas.


This is actually another deception by sellers on websites like Amazon. That review average you see is not particularly for any one product, it is for the totality of all their products as listed on that page.

I don't know why Amazon allows sellers do this. If you look closely , most of the reviews of that particular scope are negative but because there are other products on that page that have overwhelmingly positive reviews , it rubs off on the scope. There is a term they use for such bulk reviews.

They must have intentionally thrown that scope among good products to mask the negative reviews. This is a big deception.
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#18 Starman1

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 02:07 PM

Cheap to make because they have spherical mirrors and use the lens to extend the f/ratio.

On a lot of these, the correcting lens is cemented into the focuser, and they're not always cemented in straight.

When I worked in a telescope store, I wouldn't even sell one.  There was even a computerized one with 100% plastic mount, focuser, etc. for ~$250,

and it was an embarrassment.  

We had a short focal length newtonian with a 500mm focal length that was at least collimatable, unlike the BJ scopes, but undermounted.

And we had an 800mm or 900mm focal length cheap newtonian that performed OK.

But it simply wasn't as well built or as easy to use or as stable as an 80-90mm refractor on an AZ4 mount.

The refractor on an AZ4 mount, though, was $100 more than the cheap 500mm newtonian on an EQ1 mount.

But a MUCH nicer entry-level scope.


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#19 chris charen

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 06:42 PM

I live in New Zealand and they sell these rubbish Chinese 'short tube' reflectors our local E. bay type trading site, at usually very high prices. I often write in to the sellers saying they are selling inferior scopes on wobbly mounts that give poor images and that it is not ethical to sell these scopes to esp. first time telescope buyers . Of course they don't like this and they tell me to go away. [Or words to that effect ]. I often write back saying if they were ethical and honest traders they would not sell them. I usually then get black listed then from their sites then. At least I try.

 

Chris


Edited by chris charen, 21 May 2020 - 06:43 PM.

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#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 07:03 PM

I give credit to Orion for not selling Jones-Bird scopes and for not selling scopes with 2 element eyepiece's.

 

I have read of one very good Jones-Bird telescope, I have looked and only found one.

https://www.cloudyni...l/#entry8420475

 

This scope was built by Rik ter Horst who is an ATM as a hobby and works with Harrie Rutten who was a coauthor of the book Telescope Optics.  Rik does optics for the Dutch Space Agency.

 

Jon


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#21 kel123

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 07:42 PM

I have heard a number of people say they almost left the hobby after acquiring a cheap bird Jones as first scope.
This can mean that some people actually left the hobby after making that same mistake.
These manufacturers have so many other entry offerings that they don't have to sell this BJ scope. This is what I just don't get.

#22 Bomber Bob

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Posted 21 May 2020 - 08:26 PM

AFAIK, the Tasco 8V (125x1000 made by Vixen Japan) is an acceptable B-J scope, and is on a version of the Polaris EQ -- a very good platform for it:   https://www.cloudyni...tasco-vixen-8v/

 

Fine as it is, I don't think the 8V should ever be recommended to new observers -- collimation is too tricky.

 

Otherwise...  There are 1000s of Tanzutsu <Z> 76mm versions floating around still, 40+ years later, even though many more 1000s probably wound up in landfills.  (The Best Place for them!)

 

Why are these made & sold?  G-R-E-E-D   Very cheap to make, impressive-looking to newbies, and with a higher than average profit margin than many decent First Telescope options.

 

Thanks for this thread.  If we don't call these out, who will?


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#23 aeBry

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 07:44 AM

I was one of those who bought the Powerseeker 127EQ, and it did hinder my love of the sky. Budget was tight, reviews were good, but research was not diligent. The EQ mount was frustrating and set up felt like it took forever. After 10 years of having this scope I decided to try it out again and quickly determined I needed a Dobsonian. Like many if you have said, I would hope more aspiring amateur astronomers look past the low price and high ratings and come to a forum like this to find out the truth. Thanks to all for the great info!
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#24 PatrickVt

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 10:21 AM

Why do they market a Bird-Jones scope at all?   This scope makes no sense to me whatsoever.  Yet, for some strange reason, beginners are drawn to them like they are the best thing they've ever seen.  

 

I'll admit that we had one of those pieces of junk in our household for a while.  Almost all of its time in our house had been spent in a closet.  It was a gift for our son and I hadn't used it so I wasn't aware of how miserable this scope is.  He completely lost interest in the hobby.  Even today, when he visits, he has no desire to look through my good scopes.  That scope really turned him off to astronomy.  Years later, I pulled it out in an attempt to clean it up for the grandkids to use and it was then that I realized how terrible the scope is.  I salvaged some parts and then tossed it in the trash bin.  I was happy to be rid of it.  

 

My parents bought me a small reflector when I was a kid and it was used often.  I was frustrated by it for many reasons but I had no money to resolve any of the issues I had with it.  However, it was usable providing some crisp views.

 

It is beyond me why they don't remove that ridiculous barlow in the focuser and simply produce a short focal length reflector in the same tube.  Wouldn't that cost the manufacturers less while still providing a kit that appears to be exactly the same?  Then beginners would be much happier and most will want to stay in the hobby which means they would be happy with whatever manufacturer made their Bird-Jones scope and purchase more things from them.  I know I would be more inclined to purchase more products from the manufacturer of our son's Bird-Jones if we were happy with it.  Unfortunately for that manufacturer, I now avoid their products. 

 

The Bird-Jones scope, however, is the #1 hobby killer for astronomy so it seem to me that any manufacturer(s) producing these things is missing out on a lot of future sales by happy customers.  If most people end up using a Bird-Jones scope just a handful of times and then bury it in a closet, forgetting about astronomy, aren't the manufacturers of those scopes hurting their own business?  These Bird-Jones scopes shouldn't be marketed at all.

 

Patrick

 

Patrick


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#25 Starman1

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Posted 22 May 2020 - 10:38 AM

Agreed.

But turning out spherical mirrors is almost entirely a machine-made process, whereas parabolizing the mirrors requires some hand work or at least more elaborate testing.

So the cost of making the scope with a spherical mirror and (maybe plastic?) lens is a lot less than making a scope with a short focal length paraboloidal mirror.

It's all about selling the scope for as cheap a price as possible.

A 4.5" dob can be had for <$250, but that is $100 more than many 4.5" Jones-Bird monstrosities.


Edited by Starman1, 22 May 2020 - 10:38 AM.

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