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those cheap 70/300 refractors

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#1 Gregrox

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 09:22 PM

Has anyone here bought and analyzed/reviewed these department store hobbykiller style things? They are ubiquitous on Amazon alongside their slightly better 70/400 cousins. I'm curious if they are even 70mm true aperture, I know some of these cheapo telescopes have problems where their focuser mechanism actually vignettes the light path and stops them down to much smaller apertures. The Celestron TravelScope 70 (70/400) is stopped down to perhaps 60-65mm, and iirc the TravelScope 50 is even worse, around 20mm.

 

to be clear this is not soliciting a buyer's recommendation. I already know these are bad telescopes, but how bad? If they're genuinely 70mm ish perhaps they are redeemable? I'm asking more about the outreach aspect of how to deal with newbies who have bought these kinds of hobbykillers.

 

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Edited by Gregrox, 20 July 2021 - 09:22 PM.


#2 MisterDan

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 10:27 PM

They just look...odd...

 

Here's another view (with focuser racked out):

https://www.ebay.com...lUAAOSwIndguAC6

 

Some images suggest the accessories are 24.5mm/0.965 format.  Other images suggest the diagonal is hybrid (i.e. 1.25-inch eyepieces).  If they're 24.5mm, then the "overall" appearance is one of a 60mm shorty - not a 70mm.  However, there are ads/auctions for 70mm/300mm objectives.  Hmmm...

 

Whether the objective is 60mm or 70mm, the scope's working aperture looks to be closer to 45-50mm.

 

The Gskyer/Celestron 400mm "traveler" packages - even if they are working at a 60-65mm-ish effective aperture - strike me as bargains, in comparison.

 

I hope I'm wrong; I hope they're sharp little scopesters.

 

Best wishes.

Dan


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#3 Creedence

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 10:33 PM

It's a shame manufacturers haven't been able to crack the code on entry level telescopes.  It's left a vacuum that's being filled with this garbage- which has propagated like a weed across Amazon (which unfortunately is where the uninitiated are going to go to satisfy a passing curiosity that could otherwise become a meaningful past time).

 

This thing could have a Televue primary, but with its paltry "aluminum triangle bracket", (likely) awful eyepiece, among a litany of other offenses, it's still going to be nearly unusable for anything beyond the moon- and even then I suspect it would deliver views sufficient to elicit a tepid "neat" before the viewer walks away in favor of the latest offerings on their social media feeds.  I can't help but feel like the biggest opportunity for outreach to the masses is completely lost thanks to this stuff.  It's a much smaller/easier commitment to hit "buy now" on a low-cost telescope on Amazon than it is to hunt down a local astronomy club, let alone visit a star party.  Imagine the influx of new amateur astronomers if those Amazon scopes offered even remotely reasonable performance sufficient to let them take their next step (whether that's finding this forum, working up the courage to go to an outreach event or star party, etc).

 

Gone are the days where you would just go to the mall and get an honest hobby-killing 60mm Meade alt/az from Natural Wonders.  I feel like we live in a new era of proliferation of weapons-grade hobby killers.


Edited by Creedence, 20 July 2021 - 10:57 PM.

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#4 Taosmath

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Posted 20 July 2021 - 11:58 PM

I bought the Barska badged version of this 30070m to evaluate as a super cheap finder (I got it for $30).  The tripod and EP's are junk of course, but using one of the $10 23mm SVBony Aspherics, I got a useable finder with a (very) roughly 5 degree FOV which is about what a crude calculation based on magnification of 13x should give with a 62* FOV  EP.  I could see plenty of craters on the moon.  I'd be interested to see what happens if I push the magnification a bit.  If I get chance I can pull it out to try and look for signs of vignetting of the image and get some idea of what it can do on splitting some doubles  and maybe also look at Jupiter & Saturn.(With the moon so bright, I think I'd be wasting my time to look at DSO's)  Of course we're in monsoon season here, so clouds will doubtless interfere.....


Edited by Taosmath, 21 July 2021 - 12:00 AM.

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#5 Gregrox

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:15 AM

It's a shame manufacturers haven't been able to crack the code on entry level telescopes.  It's left a vacuum that's being filled with this garbage- which has propagated like a weed across Amazon (which unfortunately is where the uninitiated are going to go to satisfy a passing curiosity that could otherwise become a meaningful past time).

 

This thing could have a Televue primary, but with its paltry "aluminum triangle bracket", (likely) awful eyepiece, among a litany of other offenses, it's still going to be nearly unusable for anything beyond the moon- and even then I suspect it would deliver views sufficient to elicit a tepid "neat" before the viewer walks away in favor of the latest offerings on their social media feeds.  I can't help but feel like the biggest opportunity for outreach to the masses is completely lost thanks to this stuff.  It's a much smaller/easier commitment to hit "buy now" on a low-cost telescope on Amazon than it is to hunt down a local astronomy club, let alone visit a star party.  Imagine the influx of new amateur astronomers if those Amazon scopes offered even remotely reasonable performance sufficient to let them take their next step (whether that's finding this forum, working up the courage to go to an outreach event or star party, etc).

 

Gone are the days where you would just go to the mall and get an honest hobby-killing 60mm Meade alt/az from Natural Wonders.  I feel like we live in a new era of proliferation of weapons-grade hobby killers.

> likely awful eyepiece

H20 and H6, sadly. Not to mention the 3x Barlow and 1.5x Erector.

 

>manufacturers cracked the code

Seems to me like they have, there's just some limitation to the marketing and profiting from it. Tabletop Dobsonians are the perfect super-budget telescope and the perfect affordable serious telescope, depending upon what kind of mirror you put in it. But very few brands make those available, and Celestron as a brand seems hell bent on selling much inferior telescopes under their powerseeker and astromaster lines while they ship AWB OneSkies and Zhumell Z130s from their warehouses.

 

>hit buy now

The massive influx of newbies into the hobby of amateur astronomy is gonna mean pretty much every telescope gets more popular, including the bad ones. But I wonder. Are these such effective hobby killers that few people ever get as far as posting on CN or reddit about them?

 

Amazon's the new department store, and just like any department store they're championing hobbykillers. It takes 4-6 pages of amazon's results for "telescope" to get to anything actually worth buying, let alone anything excellent. Mostly you get 70/400 (Celestron Travelscope clones), 70/300s, and other small cheap refractors, endlessly cloned by different sellers distributing the same 2-5 toys.

 

It breaks my heart, to see all the rip-offs (name-brand or otherwise) being sold. There's no reason that a small or cheap telescope can't be a good introduction to the hobby, if you know what to expect. But so very many of these telescopes are compromised in severe ways--their apertures cut down, their mounts unusable, their accessories distorted.

 

I called them toys but they're worse than that. The terrible optics of a toy can be excused. The terrible mount and eyepieces so narrow you can't find anything, can not be excused in an instrument for beginners who are already less likely to have good hand-eye coordination.

but i digress.


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#6 Gregrox

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:17 AM

They just look...odd...

 

Here's another view (with focuser racked out):

https://www.ebay.com...lUAAOSwIndguAC6

 

Some images suggest the accessories are 24.5mm/0.965 format.  Other images suggest the diagonal is hybrid (i.e. 1.25-inch eyepieces).  If they're 24.5mm, then the "overall" appearance is one of a 60mm shorty - not a 70mm.  However, there are ads/auctions for 70mm/300mm objectives.  Hmmm...

 

Whether the objective is 60mm or 70mm, the scope's working aperture looks to be closer to 45-50mm.

 

The Gskyer/Celestron 400mm "traveler" packages - even if they are working at a 60-65mm-ish effective aperture - strike me as bargains, in comparison.

 

I hope I'm wrong; I hope they're sharp little scopesters.

 

Best wishes.

Dan

The Travelscope 70/400 is overpriced at the $90 selling point they're mostly going for right now. I got mine for $50 and I think that was a good price. They absolutely need an upgraded photo tripod, that is non-negotiable. If you already have a good photo tripod, they're honestly pretty good. But I would really stay clear of the 70/300.



#7 MisterDan

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:25 AM

It's a shame manufacturers haven't been able to crack the code on entry level telescopes.  It's left a vacuum that's being filled with this garbage- which has propagated like a weed across Amazon (which unfortunately is where the uninitiated are going to go to satisfy a passing curiosity that could otherwise become a meaningful past time).

 

This thing could have a Televue primary, but with its paltry "aluminum triangle bracket", (likely) awful eyepiece, among a litany of other offenses, it's still going to be nearly unusable for anything beyond the moon- and even then I suspect it would deliver views sufficient to elicit a tepid "neat" before the viewer walks away in favor of the latest offerings on their social media feeds.  I can't help but feel like the biggest opportunity for outreach to the masses is completely lost thanks to this stuff.  It's a much smaller/easier commitment to hit "buy now" on a low-cost telescope on Amazon than it is to hunt down a local astronomy club, let alone visit a star party.  Imagine the influx of new amateur astronomers if those Amazon scopes offered even remotely reasonable performance sufficient to let them take their next step (whether that's finding this forum, working up the courage to go to an outreach event or star party, etc).

 

Gone are the days where you would just go to the mall and get an honest hobby-killing 60mm Meade alt/az from Natural Wonders.  I feel like we live in a new era of proliferation of weapons-grade hobby killers.

Who says they haven't cracked the code? lol.gif

 

Their goal is sales.  These things sell.  These things outsell, at that:  Why spend $200 on a Starblast 4.5, when I can get a more-compact, cool-looking refractor for less than $100?

 

If "Beginner Telescopes and Basic Optics" was taught in 1st Grade, sure, the 70mm f/4.3 achromats on tinfoil-and-polypropylene tripods might disappear... but at what price?

 

"Here you go, kid.  This is our entry-level FPL-53 doublet, and these are your barely-adequate Luminos eyepieces.  No, don't get an achromatic Barlow - they're not very good.  You need a telecentric - they're quadruplets!  If you want a bare-minimum mount - one that can handle basic imaging when you're ready to try that in the future - then I recommend the Sirius EQ-G.  Anything less will disappoint you, and you'll end up selling it, anyway.  Let me talk to my manager - I think I can talk him into letting you have this entire package for... let's see... How does $2500 sound?"

 

Poor telescopes aren't hobby killers.  Unrealistic expectations and "fashion" foster more forgotten basement scopes than the D70F300 ever will.

 

If a 40mm f/15 Newtonian with uncoated slip-fit push-pull Ramsdenstein eyepieces and a second-surface secondary on a ball-&-socket tripod couldn't kill my interest, then a small fast achromat would have no chance.

 

Best wishes.

Dan


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#8 Gregrox

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:38 AM


If a 40mm f/15 Newtonian with uncoated slip-fit push-pull Ramsdenstein eyepieces and a second-surface secondary on a ball-&-socket tripod couldn't kill my interest, then a small fast achromat would have no chance.

Two things.

1) survivor bias. People should not be expected to put all their effort into working with a frustrating telescope if they only have a passing interest. A passing interest can however be turned into a lifetime hobby if the correct instruments had been provided. You are a lucky survivor with above average tenacity to deal with a telescope like that. Consider of all the people who had the same scope and lost interest. Now imagine how things would be different had they been given a "real" telescope instead.

2) a 40mm f/15 Newtonian with slip fit push pull ramsden eyepieces and a second surface secondary on a ball and socket tripod? Please elaborate!



#9 db2005

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:45 AM

Well... perhaps it's useful to see these telescopes as mere instruments of facilitating children's play and make-believe. Just like toy action-figures, matchbox cars and fake food items for playing kitchen. Sure, the glossy graphics on the box contain all the planets and nebulae that they will likely ever see with the product - but after all, how realistic is it that a 6-year old child will stay up until midnight to actually try to see anything in the night sky with the scope?

 

Maybe these scopes are indeed hobby killers if you get one and have unrealistic expectations (in this case: any expectations at all) about the instrument's capabilities - but maybe not. After all, matchbox cars don't typically put off children's interest in cars and likely have never prevented children from buying a nice automobile when they grow up.

 

These awful telescopes may instead be seen as facilitators of the mind. I mean, how likely is it that children will ever realize that there even exists something called an astronomical amateur telescope unless they see the toy version of it in the toy store? Perhaps the mere presence of these toy versions of scopes may open the children's minds to the idea that there's much more to explore using the adult's much cool-looking instruments. Spending maybe a few dollars on planting the seed of curiosity and a scientific mindset in a young child's mind doesn't sound like a wholly bad investment to me, even if the money is spent on a genuinely bad telescope. Of course, for those of us who know better and perhaps even have a small instrument to spare and give away for free to children of family and friends, we have much better options. I know many of us are using this privilege.


Edited by db2005, 21 July 2021 - 01:14 AM.

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#10 Stevencbradley

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:52 AM

It's actually sorta funny (I have a weird sense of humor); the same thing happens with bicycles. On the one hand, we have the folks who won't touch anything for less than $5k; on the other, we have the fine folk who buy a Wal-Mart bike and expect it to be good quality. Same for riflescopes, etc. There is a minimum price point. Below that, you get junk. There is also a point of diminishing returns. Many of us go there from to time to time. I bought a Questar. I'm not complaining, mind you. It's a FINE scope. There's nothing like it. However, my C5 "sees more." Why? Aperture. It's  like, once you get "the best," There's sometimes just a bit of regret at what you had to spend to get that ONE THING that's "best." I spent a LOT of money discovering this, but I'm still glad I bought the Questar...and the TV-NP-101...and the Starmaster 12.5" Dob (I still have only the Questar--cataracts in both eyes and the need to make house payments took care of the others). The thing is, the "extra" one gets for that additional several grand isn't all that compelling once the "new" has worn off. OTOH, I'm pretty much against buying junque...junque will always be just that. 



#11 Gregrox

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:15 AM

Well... perhaps it's useful to see these telescopes as mere instruments of facilitating children's play and make-believe. Just like toy action-figures, matchbox cars and fake food items for playing kitchen. Sure, the glossy graphics on the box contain all the planets and nebulae that they will likely ever see with the product - but after all, how realistic is it that a 6-year old child will stay up until midnight to actually try to see anything in the night sky with the scope?

 

Maybe these scopes are indeed hobby killers if you get one and have unrealistic expectations (in this case: any expectations at all) about the instrument's capabilities - but maybe not. After all, matchbox cars don't typically put off children's interest in cars and likely have never prevented children from buying a nice automobile when they grow up.

 

These awful telescopes may instead be seen as facilitators of the mind. I mean, how likely is it that children will ever realize that there even exists something called an astronomical amateur telescope unless they see the toy version of it in the toy store? Perhaps the mere presence of these toy versions of scopes may open the children's minds to the idea that there's much more to explore using the adult's much cool-looking instruments. Spending maybe a few dollars on planting the seed of curiosity and a scientific mindset in a young child's mind doesn't sound like a wholly bad investment to me, even if the money is spent on a genuinely bad telescope. Of course, for those of us who know better and perhaps even have small a instrument to spare and give away for free to children of family and friends, we have much better options. I know many of us are using this privilege.

I dunno that I buy this. Unless you're talking about a very young child, I don't think "toy telescopes" are playthings used in make-believe, they're still used in pretty much the same way as an adult beginner might--with the intention of seeing the moon, stars, and planets. Which is why you see the same cheap telescopes alternately marketed as "professional telescope" and "telescope for kids."

 

Usually when I hear of these telescopes, it's from parents who are learning to use the telescope with their child.

 

Despite the derogatory term "toy telescope," telescopes aren't toys. They're instruments. They're fragile and need to be handled with care, they will be ruined if you smudge or scratch up the lens. These things may be poorly designed, but they are no less sensitive to abuse than their "serious" counterparts.

 

Products marketed to children are often needlessly or even harmfully inferior in quality to their serious counterparts. Think of all the awful beeping out-of-tune musical toys which serve more as a colorful loud distraction than as a mechanism for learning about music.



#12 db2005

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:47 AM

I dunno that I buy this. Unless you're talking about a very young child, I don't think "toy telescopes" are playthings used in make-believe, they're still used in pretty much the same way as an adult beginner might--with the intention of seeing the moon, stars, and planets. Which is why you see the same cheap telescopes alternately marketed as "professional telescope" and "telescope for kids."

 

Usually when I hear of these telescopes, it's from parents who are learning to use the telescope with their child.

 

Despite the derogatory term "toy telescope," telescopes aren't toys. They're instruments. They're fragile and need to be handled with care, they will be ruined if you smudge or scratch up the lens. These things may be poorly designed, but they are no less sensitive to abuse than their "serious" counterparts.

 

Products marketed to children are often needlessly or even harmfully inferior in quality to their serious counterparts. Think of all the awful beeping out-of-tune musical toys which serve more as a colorful loud distraction than as a mechanism for learning about music.

Well, I'm not disagreeing with you. I too believe that "toy" instruments like toy telescopes/microscopes and musical instruments are built to an appalling quality.

 

But I am trying to make a point that every cloud has a silver lining, which is very real considering the alternatives: it's better for a child to damage a cheap toy scope than a real, expensive one. Also, there's a whole array of questions relating to telescope safety: "Real" telescopes are heavier, you can pinch your fingers in the mount and tripod, the OTA can drop on a child's head. Considering that we still occasionally see even naïve adults on online videos mounting scopes on EQ mounts with the heavy OTA mounted before rather than after the counterweights have been installed, I'm glad that children are at least not exposed to heavy toy equipment which might hurt them. And then we haven't even begun to discuss the issue of a child pointing their telescope at the Sun. Of course that danger would call for seriously limiting any toy scope's aperture. In short: Toy scope manufacturers have some real safety concerns to consider; any toy maker who makes a "real" toy telescope may actually end up being liable for real injuries.

 

IMO small children should be introduced to real telescopes by responsible adults, never alone.


Edited by db2005, 21 July 2021 - 01:48 AM.

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#13 MisterDan

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 02:42 AM

Two things.

1) survivor bias. People should not be expected to put all their effort into working with a frustrating telescope if they only have a passing interest. A passing interest can however be turned into a lifetime hobby if the correct instruments had been provided. You are a lucky survivor with above average tenacity to deal with a telescope like that. Consider of all the people who had the same scope and lost interest. Now imagine how things would be different had they been given a "real" telescope instead.

2) a 40mm f/15 Newtonian with slip fit push pull ramsden eyepieces and a second surface secondary on a ball and socket tripod? Please elaborate!

Skilcraft Satellite.

 

Like this:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/203063547767

 

or this:

https://www.etsy.com...listing_details

 

or this (alternate-branded "faster" version):

https://www.cloudyni...cope/?p=2343324

(No, that is not a lens element in the "finder." It was a non-optical "peep sight.")

 

It was a birthday gift from my folks.

 

Not all units had second-surface secondaries.  The model I have now (a nostalgic curiosity) has a first-surface mirror.  I've heard of another Satellite which - supposedly - utilized some sort of aluminized film (Mylar?) or tape on (or as) the secondary.

 

The tube's interior was unfinished.  That pale mint color you see?  That was the "in-mass" color of the plastic, itself (PVC?).  I never tried to darken or flock the tube's interior.  It was the same glossy mint on the inside.

 

After the single pin anchoring the socket head failed (and the head separated from the tripod's hub), I decided to build a fork-on-pedestal equatorial mount out of some 2x4s (pedestal & legs), 2x2s (fork arms & cross brace), 1x4s (tube "ring" or "clamshell"), and a length of half-inch galvanized iron pipe (r.a. axis).  I used nails, not screws.  I think my nephew may have the only remaining photo of the mount (in a big box full of old family photos my sister ended up with.  I should ask him if he still has that box...

 

Optical quality?... Not a lot.  Contrast was lacking.  Jupiter's SEB was barely discernible (this was during the late '70s).  Saturn was ringed, but with no hint of Cassini.  M13 was a subtle smudge.  The Moon was fun and full of plenty of detail.  Andromeda's core was bigger than M13, but otherwise similar - a diffuse ball of celestial fog.

 

-I just remembered something:  one could actually stack the eyepieces and yield a higher-magnification view through the scope.  I used masking tape.  The "double eyepiece" may have been 160x, or perhaps even a bit more. The 60x-per-inch rule was thoroughly mocked.

 

Some 13-14 years after the demise of my funky little Skilcraft, I bought my second telescope (the first one listed in my "signature").

 

Best wishes.

Dan


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#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 06:02 AM

Two things.

1) survivor bias. People should not be expected to put all their effort into working with a frustrating telescope if they only have a passing interest. A passing interest can however be turned into a lifetime hobby if the correct instruments had been provided. You are a lucky survivor with above average tenacity to deal with a telescope like that. Consider of all the people who had the same scope and lost interest. Now imagine how things would be different had they been given a "real" telescope instead.

2) a 40mm f/15 Newtonian with slip fit push pull ramsden eyepieces and a second surface secondary on a ball and socket tripod? Please elaborate!

 

Regardless of what telescope people begin with, the vast majority lose interest.  That's reality.  It's not about the telescope.

 

A passing interest is a passing interest..  The success or failure is not about the equipment but rather about the individual. If a 70mm F/4.3 refractor can kill the hobby, the heart and spirit, the curiosity and patience, just aren't there.

 

To be an amateur astronomer requires tenacity.. a great deal of tenacity.  A simple telescope is the least of the obstacles.  Cold, windy nights, sleep deprivation, hot and humid, mosquitoes, long trips and clouds.. Tiny, little barely visible objects.. there are good reasons there are only a few of us.  Most people look through a telescope and are mildly pleased but for it to be a passion, a life long hobby, that comes from within and not from the equipment. There has to be something special, some connection to the universe, some magic in the eyepiece.  Something very special that drives the passion.

 

A telescope like Mr. Dan's or the $5 at a garage sale 60mm I started with, that first view of the Orion nebula.. That's what it's really about.  That's what most DSOs look like even in a large scope.  When I am out there and it's 38 degrees F and the wind is blowing 20 mph and I am on top of a ladder looking at some barely visible 15th galaxy.. it's not M42 in an 8 inch Dob on pleasant evening.. 

 

It's not an anomaly that many of us started with very simple, poorly made instruments. Think of them as a tenacity test..  Think of them as a reality test.. Because this is what this hobby is really about.  Not the easy views but the challenges.   

 

If you want to understand how to deal with beginning amateurs who have purchased scopes like these, the first thing is get it out of your mind that these are hobby killers.  These scopes have glass achromatic optics and can provide some nice views..  Show them what their scope can do, point it at the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, the Pleiades.  Show them Albireo, M42.. 

 

Don't show them what your telescope can do.. Concentrate on what they have and make the most of it.  And if it happens to have a 1.25 inch focuser, maybe slip in a good eyepiece...  

 

WWGD?  Think of that as an operating principle.   What Would Galileo Do?  

 

Jon


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#15 Creedence

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 09:00 AM

Who says they haven't cracked the code? lol.gif

 

Their goal is sales.  These things sell.  These things outsell, at that:  Why spend $200 on a Starblast 4.5, when I can get a more-compact, cool-looking refractor for less than $100?

 

 

 

THAT is the code they've failed to crack. 

 

Putting on my MBA hat for a moment: They need to produce a gateway product sufficient to get people hooked (if they are predisposed to getting hooked- some will only ever have a passing curiosity that quickly fades) at a price point that competes directly with the Amazon toys.  It will NOT be profitable, but from a business perspective, it's not always a bad decision to let a product like this be a loss leader because it broadens the pipeline for sales of their established (more profitable) lines as these new astronomers carry a brand loyalty with them as they grow.  And don't feel bad for their lost revenue, businesses would categorize this loss as a Business Development expense because they are "buying" market share in this way.

 

Here's an off-the-wall thought- imagine Celestron comes out with a product like Stellina (we hate them, but that's irrelevant, the uninitiated love them, they look like an iphone, and they put up acceptable images while being push-button easy) on Amazon that would sell for, say $150.  After a few months, it then takes a subscription to keep the thing working.  Most wouldn't pay to keep it running, but some would, and some would grow in the hobby with a brand loyalty.

 

 

The Amazon toys are proliferating because the Big Names aren't adequately doing that.  Celstron does have tabletop Newt, but something about it is missing the mark relative to the more popular "toys".  It's probably the fact that it looks odd and intimidating.  Never underestimate how much impact slick packaging and a highliy polished aesthetic have on casual Amazon shoppers.  The manufacturers are allowing this vacuum to exist, and it's getting filled by these Chinese-made "facsimiles" of telescopes.


Edited by Creedence, 21 July 2021 - 09:05 AM.


#16 Gregrox

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:45 AM

Regardless of what telescope people begin with, the vast majority lose interest.  That's reality.  It's not about the telescope.

 

A passing interest is a passing interest..  The success or failure is not about the equipment but rather about the individual. If a 70mm F/4.3 refractor can kill the hobby, the heart and spirit, the curiosity and patience, just aren't there.

 

i have to disagree simply from personal experience. My astromaster 114EQ, certainly a bad telescope but not so bad as many of the ones discussed in this thread, was difficult to use to the point that after a while I rarely used it. And I didn't have much of a conception that I could ever see any deep-sky-objects with it.

 

It was only by volunteering at the cline observatory and using their 8 inch Dobsonians, that I really got into the hobby properly. And now I would consider myself pretty resilient--since then I have used poor quality wobbly instruments, weathered cold at night and heat under the sun, mosquitos, clouds. Spending an hour sketching the Moon under horrible nearly opaque conditions. About the only thing I rarely deal with is sleep deprivation, precisely because I schedule my sleep around a hefty budget for deep sky observing.

 

I do not think we should be gate-keeping the hobby behind who is willing to deal with telescopes which only exist to separate you from your money. The fact of the matter is that bad instruments prevent people from getting started at a hobby they would otherwise enjoy. And that's not a moral failing on anyone's part but the manufacturers and sellers of those bad instruments.



#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:46 AM

The Amazon toys are proliferating because the Big Names aren't adequately doing that.  Celstron does have tabletop Newt, but something about it is missing the mark relative to the more popular "toys".  It's probably the fact that it looks odd and intimidating.  Never underestimate how much impact slick packaging and a highliy polished aesthetic have on casual Amazon shoppers.  The manufacturers are allowing this vacuum to exist, and it's getting filled by these Chinese-made "facsimiles" of telescopes.

 

I am wondering how much you know about what Celestron and Meade offer? 

 

Are you familiar with the Meade adventure scope 80 mm? It's an Synta made ST-80, metal focuser and all, with a tripod, diagonal and eyepieces for under $100.  Or the Celestron Powerseeker 70? Meade and Celestron are right there at the forefront with scopes at every price point..$50, $70..

 

If you really want to help beginners with inexpensive scopes, I suggest getting some actual experience with the scopes. I make a practice of buying them on when I see them at the right price. The Powerseeker 70 in the photo was a Walmart black friday special, $40. I used it and feed it up so it was a more effective telescope. The legs made a huge difference and only cost $6 in materials and an hour's time.

 

Powerseeker 70.jpeg
 
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#18 Gregrox

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:13 PM

But has anyone actually used one of these 70/300s? That is after all supposed to be the main point of the thread.


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#19 JIMZ7

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 12:40 PM

 

I am wondering how much you know about what Celestron and Meade offer? 

 

Are you familiar with the Meade adventure scope 80 mm? It's an Synta made ST-80, metal focuser and all, with a tripod, diagonal and eyepieces for under $100.  Or the Celestron Powerseeker 70? Meade and Celestron are right there at the forefront with scopes at every price point..$50, $70..

 

If you really want to help beginners with inexpensive scopes, I suggest getting some actual experience with the scopes. I make a practice of buying them on when I see them at the right price. The Powerseeker 70 in the photo was a Walmart black friday special, $40. I used it and feed it up so it was a more effective telescope. The legs made a huge difference and only cost $6 in materials and an hour's time.

 

 
 
Jon

 

Who sells the Meade 80mm Adventure scope anymore? You can Google that & you come up with a Meade 60mm picture. The 80mm is currently unavailable or discontinued for good.

Jim



#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 01:00 PM

But has anyone actually used one of these 70/300s? That is after all supposed to be the main point of the thread.

 

I've used similar scopes though not a 70 mm x 300 mm specifically.

 

How about you?  Have you used one?

 

Reading your original post, this seemed to be the thesis statement:

 

"I already know these are bad telescopes, but how bad? If they're genuinely 70mm ish perhaps they are redeemable? I'm asking more about the outreach aspect of how to deal with newbies who have bought these kinds of hobbykillers."

 

It seems general rather than specific.

 

Jon



#21 Creedence

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 02:15 PM

 

I am wondering how much you know about what Celestron and Meade offer? 

 

Are you familiar with the Meade adventure scope 80 mm? It's an Synta made ST-80, metal focuser and all, with a tripod, diagonal and eyepieces for under $100.  Or the Celestron Powerseeker 70? Meade and Celestron are right there at the forefront with scopes at every price point..$50, $70..

 

If you really want to help beginners with inexpensive scopes, I suggest getting some actual experience with the scopes. I make a practice of buying them on when I see them at the right price. The Powerseeker 70 in the photo was a Walmart black friday special, $40. I used it and feed it up so it was a more effective telescope. The legs made a huge difference and only cost $6 in materials and an hour's time.

 

 
 
Jon

 

 

Jon

 

That is a fair question, but it tells me I may not have gotten my intended message across. Despite knowing more about the Meade and Celestron offerings than is probably healthy, I certainly didn't intend to suggest there are no suitable options for beginners.

 

To offer a little clarification, there are certainly entry level offerings that are more than sufficient to get new people started (you listed some viable options), but the distinction is that despite those viable alternatives the vacuum remains in the space that these telescope facsimiles occupy, subsequently allowing them to do far more damage than the more credible Meade and Celestron models.  There is something about the Meade and Celestron models that is not capturing these curious people, and it would be worth them investing time and energy to figure out what it is that draws consumers to the options like the one depicted in the OP.

 

I have opinions on what that may be.  For example, notice that most of these cheapos accommodate a cell phone as part of their $50 suite of features.  Celestron has a bracket, but not until you far surpass the $50 offering.   My guess is our Big Name brands need to offer olive branches in the form of some unorthodox (for us anyway) features.  And from a business perspective, if done correctly, it is possible to offer a loss-leading product and absorb the revenue hit as a marketing expense.  Taking market share back from the facsimiles is a matter of getting uncomfortably creative for our Big Name manufacturers.  

 

As a realist, it's unlikely that would happen and this trend will continue, but it doesn't NEED to.

 

 

For the OP, I had the opportunity (misfortune) to use the model you depicted (or one very similar) that was ordered by a coworker from Amazon.  As you can imagine, it was enough to frustrate her interest away.  She brought it in to the office for me to walk her through using it as a last-ditch effort to get value from it.  It wasn't long before we were using the ETX90 I kept on my desk.  Sadly, she's moved on from her curiosity and we lost what would have been a fine member of the community.  Weapons-grade hobby killers, these.


Edited by Creedence, 21 July 2021 - 02:27 PM.


#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 03:45 PM

For the OP, I had the opportunity (misfortune) to use the model you depicted (or one very similar) that was ordered by a coworker from Amazon.  As you can imagine, it was enough to frustrate her interest away.  She brought it in to the office for me to walk her through using it as a last-ditch effort to get value from it.  It wasn't long before we were using the ETX90 I kept on my desk.  Sadly, she's moved on from her curiosity and we lost what would have been a fine member of the community.  Weapons-grade hobby killers, these.

 

 

I would suggest that had she started with an 80mm apo on a Portamount, she would have moved on.  The fact that the ETX-90 didn't tempt her tells me she just didn't find it that exciting.  

 

Did you spend enough to time to figure out what the scope could do?  Did you try splitting Porrima?  I have split Porrima with a 50mm Astro-Tech finder.  How about Castor or Algibra? These are both 5".  Were you positive about her scope?  Take a cup half full attitude?  

 

Some folks suggest that Meade and Celestron make their money off the cheap scopes and that the fancy scopes are basically loss leaders to legitimize their brand name.  

 

Jon  



#23 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 04:27 PM

It's actually sorta funny (I have a weird sense of humor); the same thing happens with bicycles. On the one hand, we have the folks who won't touch anything for less than $5k; on the other, we have the fine folk who buy a Wal-Mart bike and expect it to be good quality

 

 

As a long time cyclist, I say this:

 

Some people start out with an inexpensive bike, some start out with an expensive bike. Whether or not someone takes to cycling or the bike just hangs in the garage, doesn't depend on the bike, it depends n the individual, do they enjoy riding a bike? 

 

2052270-jon's garage Oct 2007.jpg
 
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#24 Creedence

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 05:03 PM

I would suggest that had she started with an 80mm apo on a Portamount, she would have moved on. The fact that the ETX-90 didn't tempt her tells me she just didn't find it that exciting.

Did you spend enough to time to figure out what the scope could do? Did you try splitting Porrima? I have split Porrima with a 50mm Astro-Tech finder. How about Castor or Algibra? These are both 5". Were you positive about her scope? Take a cup half full attitude?

Some folks suggest that Meade and Celestron make their money off the cheap scopes and that the fancy scopes are basically loss leaders to legitimize their brand name.

Jon

Jon, as mentioned in my post, she brought it in to work so sadly we were confined to doing this during the work day inside our office in a Tampa high rise. The ETX was just something I kept on my desk as an object d’art (and to watch rocket launches from the Cape). We didn’t split any stars, but we did successfully split a couple cars down in the neighboring parking garage.

Edited by Creedence, 21 July 2021 - 05:17 PM.


#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 July 2021 - 06:22 PM

i have to disagree simply from personal experience. My astromaster 114EQ, certainly a bad telescope but not so bad as many of the ones discussed in this thread, was difficult to use to the point that after a while I rarely used it. And I didn't have much of a conception that I could ever see any deep-sky-objects with it.

 

It was only by volunteering at the cline observatory and using their 8 inch Dobsonians, that I really got into the hobby properly. And now I would consider myself pretty resilient--since then I have used poor quality wobbly instruments, weathered cold at night and heat under the sun, mosquitos, clouds. Spending an hour sketching the Moon under horrible nearly opaque conditions. About the only thing I rarely deal with is sleep deprivation, precisely because I schedule my sleep around a hefty budget for deep sky observing.

 

I do not think we should be gate-keeping the hobby behind who is willing to deal with telescopes which only exist to separate you from your money. The fact of the matter is that bad instruments prevent people from getting started at a hobby they would otherwise enjoy. And that's not a moral failing on anyone's part but the manufacturers and sellers of those bad instruments.

 

I see that you have been involved in amateur astronomy for approximately 4 years.  I've been involved more than 30 years. I am very reluctant to call scopes like these bad instruments and hobby killers for the simple reason that I know there are people out there right now using these scopes, they are learning and enjoying them.  

 

You probably would have called my first scope a "hobby killer".  A broken down 60mm lashed to a photo tripod with one two element eyepiece, no finder.. It was pretty sorry but fortunately, there was no Cloudy Nights, there was no internet to tell me my scope was worthless.  Instead, there was a single line in the Peterson guide that said that a 60 mm refractor was capable of being used for serious observations.  That was enough encouragement for me. These days, I spend 500-600 hours a year at the eyepiece and 180 nights.  That little telescope certainly wasn't a hobby killer. 

 

In your first post you called these scopes "bad telescopes" and "killers."  I say it time to buy one and find out.  I suspect that they are pretty limited but I don't really know.. 

 

I recommend getting a copy of Sam Brown's "All about Telescopes."  It's from about 1970 and it was published by Edmund and very comprehensive.. There are projects that make me realize just how spoiled I am.. Projects like "2" refractor-on-a-stick", 1.6" tubeless refractor, WIDE-FIELD 33X Prismatic.. Convertible 3 inch reflector.. 

 

As experienced amateurs, we walk a fine line.. Yes, one wants to steer someone away from a Jones-Bird like the Astromaster 114 but at the same time, if someone has one, we need to help them make the most of what they have and welcome them.. 

 

Jon


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