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Astronomy Student's Disappointment


Ad Astra
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I agree Meade are shooting themselves in the foot. It takes years to build up customer loyalty and goodwill and seconds to lose it. It's funny how you never see these scopes in proper astro shops.

Why should uncles, aunts, mothers and fathers with good intentions end up buying this dross? Because they haven't done enough research does not cut it I'm afraid.

When will these companies realise that by offering something really usable will hook the user and make them loyal buyers for life?

An endorsement by the 'sky at night' or Patrick Moore or even Brian cox would go a long way to giving some consumer confidence in the product, as would a system like the defunct kite mark.

It is down to the manufacturers to change their ways, if one of them starts making decent cheap kit, their competitors will have to follow.

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Regarding Meade and Celestron, I have owned 2 Meade SCT's, a 10 inch LX200 classic and a 14 inch LX200GPS, and they were both excellent.

We also have a 12 inch lightbridge dob, which isn't bad, but needed the odd mod to improve it.

I now have a Celestron edge11, which is simply superb.

Consequently, I have no time for the meade/celestron knockers....you simply cannot judge their whole range by one scope.

I do agree that cheap and badly built scopes are really off-putting, and not even cheap!

Hopefully, these days information about what scope to buy is much easier to come by, and a bit of research online can steer a person away from the worst products, but even so, many really bad examples must be bought every day, and many would-be astronomers put off for life by the dissapointment they will inevitably feel after trying to use one of these bits of junk.

Rob

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Oh Dear,

Things seem to have gone off the rails a bit as far as this thread was concerned, anyway. What I really wanted to do was to rant a bit :D (blatant bid for sympathy, that!), then start a discussion on how we might help educate the community a bit to insure that the youngsters (and other 'young at heart' beginners!) didn't get burned.

There are a certain number each year (quite a lot, actually), who 'just want something new' to give as a gift; others 'just want to try astronomy out' but have no real passion or substantial interest. For this lot, the $100 department store scope, with all its lovable flaws, will always be there. Most of these folks weren't expecting a great experience, and didn't pay for one, and therefore weren't greatly disappointed. My younger brother is one of these. He got a cheap-o-scope for the family one Christmas without bothering to ask yours truly a thing about it. When asked about it, he said that I "would have talked him into something fabulous he couldn't afford", and "All I wanted was to have a go for myself." He and his family had enjoyed the moon for a few nights, then got bored; and he wasn't too sure if the scope was in the shed out back, or one of his daughter's closets. He also laughed at me when I groaned listening to all this! :D

I don't want to bash any manufacturer, they all have their flaws and junky products, but its the wonderful goods they make that interest me; to some extent, the cheap-o-scopes are the financial 'manure' that helps produce the 'flowers' of technology we all drool over so much. Unpleasant to the eye and the sensibilities, and definitely not to be tripped over in the dark -- yuck! :D

I'm hoping we can go at it from the other end of the problem, in a much more positive and personally rewarding way. Let us, every one of us with a scope or bins, make a promise to share them with a child sometime this year... or this month... or this week... heck, maybe tonight? When a youngster delights in what we show them at the eyepiece, we automatically and authoritatively have the ear and eye of the parent. A few small dollops of simple advice here can do wonders.

Kid: "WOW! It's SATURN!... I can see the RINGS!"

Me: <all chuffed over my scope> "Can you see any of the the moons beyond the rings?"

Kid: "The little stars just beyond the rings? Hey, there's TWO of them! Saturn has more than one moon!"

Parent: "I've never seen my child so enthused! But I'm sure a telescope is a) too expensive, :D too big, c) too complicated, etc."

Me: "Let me help you out, it needn't be any of those things...."

Then we go on to talk about a) local dealers (if any), :D local clubs (cheap as free!), and c) where, how, and what to buy the youngster something appropriate they can grow with.

You see, it's not about the equipment really, and even less about the folks who manufacture or sell us these things. It's really all about how you go about creating another astronomer. :)

Dan

Edited by Ad Astra
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Wise word dan. I too am interested in the better products available from the manufacturers and I was fortunate enough to be able to afford decent kit. However, it is a minefield forbids or parents looking for a present.

I also agree it is down to us to spread the astro love :D

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I real disagree, educating the people who show an intress isn´t the problem.Anyone who takes a few minutes to look into buying a telescope online will soon come up the enough information to buy a decent scope and not make any major mistakes. The problem is the companies that sell rubbish with lies often to parents or grandparents who are not going to be making educated decisons about the best scope for the money but just buying a present.Had this scope been made by some unkown company it would be less annoying but I think a brand like Meade should be made aware of its bad judgment if it sells rubbish!

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I see your point, ClearSkyTonight, but this certainly isn't about the Meade company - this could have had anyone's name one it, it just so happened that this time, it was Meade. We have all seen this sort of thing marketed under dozens of different names. Besides, I don't have any power to change the way Meade, Celestron, Skywatcher, Orion, or anyone else does business.

On the other hand, I do have the power to change a child's life for the better.

Perhaps this isn't important to some, but I guess I just have to be content with my humble portion and do what good I can with the kit and abilities I have, such as they are. :D Besides, I would confidently predict that you will have the chance to change a child's life for the better much sooner, and more often, than finding yourself in the position to change the course of business in the free market.

Cheers,

Dan

Edited by Ad Astra
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I see your point, ClearSkyTonight, but this certainly isn't about the Meade company - this could have had anyone's name one it, it just so happened that this time, it was Meade. We have all seen this sort of thing marketed under dozens of different names. Besides, I don't have any power to change the way Meade, Celestron, Skywatcher, Orion, or anyone else does business.

On the other hand, I do have the power to change a child's life for the better.

Perhaps this isn't important to some, but I guess I just have to be content with my humble portion and do what good I can with the kit and abilities I have, such as they are. :D Besides, I would confidently predict that you will have the chance to change a child's life for the better much sooner, and more often, than finding yourself in the position to change the course of business in the free market.

Cheers,

Dan

I´m not trying to Knock Meade in particular but I would be happy to do so if I found any company cheating in this way.I think places like this are ideal as they are where these companies have their core business.

As for children getting involved in astronomy I´m sure this is also an ideal place to ask for telescopes to be donated to education as I´m sure many members must end up with more scopes than they can handle.

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I'm hoping we can go at it from the other end of the problem, in a much more positive and personally rewarding way. Let us, every one of us with a scope or bins, make a promise to share them with a child sometime this year... or this month... or this week... heck, maybe tonight? When a youngster delights in what we show them at the eyepiece, we automatically and authoritatively have the ear and eye of the parent. A few small dollops of simple advice here can do wonders.

I would be surprised if those of us with children, siblings or other relatives, haven't already shared our passion for our fascinating hobby. My daughter has observed Jupiter and can name a number of constellations, find the pole star, and even use Stellarium with some confidence!

However, I would caution against making any unsolicited approach to a child as it may not be best received by the parents.

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However, I would caution against making any unsolicited approach to a child as it may not be best received by the parents.

Well said! Certainly common sense, caution and civil behavior must prevail, and in our modern times, I generally say "Come back with a Parent!" if a child I don't know approaches when I am say, out on the front patio and visible from the street. (many of them do!) No one who likes to play in the dark, as we astronomers do, needs a reputation as someone who is creepy with children!

Far more often, if I'm encountering children at the eyepiece, it is because I am doing outreach at a school, library or even the 'sidewalk astronomy' at the local shopping mall. Then I take every license to entice and tantalize the kids - still, they are pretty sophisticated, and figure out pretty quickly that it is the telescope that is fascinating, and the funny old fellow sitting by the eyepiece is not. :D

All things the way they should be!

Dan

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