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Do dept store scopes put people off astronomy?


rowan46
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My first scope was a department store(ish) scope. Cost £90 and did the job.

Yes it would blow over if you even mentioned the word 'wind' but my expectations were low, lower than a snake's belly.

I used it at every possible opportunity for about 4 months from Jan-Apr till the clocks changed. Loved discovering new things, even if they were fuzzy out of focus blobs.

Just purchased my first serious scope so the department store route certainly didn't put me off. Most likely because I knew it was a stepping stone and I knew its limits, no matter what the marketing material told me.

Mark

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I wouldn't say these scopes have necessarilly poor optics but the EPs, the mountings, the tripods and the advice that customer gets is of very poor quality, couple these  to lack of experience, unreasonable expectations, lack of vendor knowledge and the results are obvious. Even some of the new members here have the wrong idea of what might be achieved in particular in imaging. Having a camera and a scope does not make for image quality that is displayed by the likes of Olly, Sarah, John rt and many more. The transition from snapshot daytime photography to AP is an expensive and often difficult  experience.

A.G

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I'd agree that the bike v scope analogy doesn't really work.  IMHO most of the bike media continually do marketing for the hi-end bikes by rubbishing anything that costs less than £500, but as other have observed a less expensive steel or alloy bike will still get you from A-B without disappointing. 

I recall from attending some of the local astro soc's astronomy week viewing nights that joe public have got an expectation of Hubble-type technicolor views of space, and they were less than impressed by views of Mars etc as a small disk in even a decent portable scope; I can only guess their opinion of a view thru a cheap scope with poor optics that they may have bought on the high street.

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You won't find people on sgl who will rubbish someone's scope because it's inexpensive. In fact people on this site use their expertise to enable people with low end equipment to get the best out of it. This is what sets sgl above a lot of specialist sites where point scoring and confrontation seem to be the norm.

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You won't find people on sgl who will rubbish someone's scope because it's inexpensive. In fact people on this site use their expertise to enable people with low end equipment to get the best out of it. This is what sets sgl above a lot of specialist sites where point scoring and confrontation seem to be the norm.

that's generally true but it has been known  in the desire to be helpful.  as you say though most people try and keep a lid on that sort of thing. It seems from most peoples replies that the biggest problems with most of these cheap scopes is the mounts and  that with even only slightly better eyepieces these scopes are at least usable optically  on the brighter objects

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If someone joins the forum already owning a scope I like to think we try and help them get the best from it, whatever it's quality or cost.

If they have yet to buy one, advice given will hopefully steer them towards something which will provide as good performance as possible for the available budget. It can be challenging if the budget is really low though which is why binoculars are sometimes suggested.

First Light Optics beginner telescopes section is a useful reminder that a decent scope can be had for <£100 these days:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes.html

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Sorry but I have to disagree.

My first view of Saturn the was through a cheapo telescope (it had pictures of galaxies on the box) that my mother bought as a birthday present for my father, if an Owl broke wind it would wobble. My old man had a brief foray into astronomy but I've never looked back.

That was 15 years ago, I've had 3 SCTs a Mak and various refractors since but none have achieved the same wow moment as that first view of Saturn.

People (men) take up and drop many hobbies regardless of the quality of equipment, astronomy is not alone on that count. There's plenty of high end equipment on ABS listed as only used once.

It's only a foolish person that does not research any hobby first ,but am sure most started with a cheapo thing to test the waters ,and I mean foolish in a light hearted way people go for the cheap option in any hobby with the mind set that if it's cheap and I do not like it its not really cost me

That's when the wallet comes outand the big purchase appears

Pat

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I was lucky. Some very nice neighbors gave me a 2" refractor when I was 12. I already loved astronomy and other sciences, and that little Japanese scope was great! Many nights were passed on the roof of my house. From there I did my homework and begged a 3" F/15 refractor from my parents for Christmas. In 1972 - that was pretty good for a kid.

My neighbor had worked for the Space Program in Houston. One of the people why talked to astronauts orbiting Earth, so he knew a great deal. So I'll sign this with my advice passed up the line.....

Give Telescopes to Kids,

Dave

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I think DST's have introduced more to astronomy  than put off.

Its peoples expectations that end up putting them off.

Most peope on here over 50 and interested since a kid would have had a cheap tasco , other than bad CA and the wobbles it gave good service and it taught you important things ... Back then we did not have the internet , we had books and word of mouth and the first view of Saturn in this rubbish telescope that wobbled if you exhaled and showed so much false colour was simply fantastic and fuled an interest for life.

Cheap scopes and bino's in general do a fantastic job for the money when you consider how much you need to spend to improve the image .  People in general stress too much over collimation and other things that make small improvements , give a new to astronomy person a collumated scope and one that is out and show them Saturn and they would not at first tell any difference but would be delighted with what they had seen. It takes time to learn to observe then its time for a better scope .

Thank you the DST scope , you gave me a life long interest ....

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I actually think that programs like stargazing live have some responsibility, the always show images and pics from hubble and other superb scopes, without explaining what you actually see in the scope, people go out and buy the scopes in store an are disappointed when the sights they see are fuzzy and faint. 

I have recently had to educate a couple of colleagues in work, who are looking to buy scopes for themselves and their children. 

I actually pointed them to FLO and at some good starter books such as Turn Left at Orion

that said I would not discourage anyone buying a DST scope if it is something theyve set their heart on, but I would certainly show them alternatives to what the same money can get for their money if they shop around at specialist websites and shops 

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Do department store scopes put people off astronomy?

Very possibly. But department stores are not alone in this.

And here is why: You decide on a scope and you go and buy it. 

Great. 

The box it comes in has high gloss colour images of deep space objects taken by space telescopes (yes i am looking at you Hubble), and gives you the impression that that is how you will see objects.

very bad. your scope will never show you objects like Hubble can see.

The sales pitch (specs) on the box promises you useful magnification of about 400-600x.

very bad. You can realistically cut that down by 50%.

As has been stated above, nobody (well almost nobody) here on SGL will slag off  (take the mick) out of your scope if you have bought a department store scope. We will help you to get the most out of it and learn to use it and be happy with it. If you come to SGL asking advice on such a scope, the members here will advise you on better options which can be bought. 

Someone earlier mentioned that scopes costing £100 can be great. I agree. I have 2 scopes that cost in or about £100. I have a Celestron 70mm Travelscope and a Skywatcher Heritage 130P and i love them both. Both give very nice views of objects and do exactly what they are meant to do (70mm scope is great as a widefield and the 130P is such a powerful scope for its size).

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