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vox_rationis

First telescope for 10 year old enthusiast

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What would be a good, but simple to use, telescope for a very enthusiastic 10 year old? I have researched the internet and am thinking that some sort of reflector would be best, but which? My grandson is autistic, but very bright and he bombards me with facts about the Solar System, exo-planets, distances, moons, ages, gravity et al, so I think he would actually enjoy seeing what's out there. I think the telescope should, at least, be good enough to see, for example, Jupiter's moons. HELP PLEASE. With gratitude to anyone who answers.

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How autistic?

I would half suggest something like the Skywatcher 150P Dobsonian - the condition being that he gets on with the inverted view and apparent movement and that he gets on with moving the scope himself.

A dobsonian is fine and simple but they do mean that you have to get familiar with using one. Quite possible he will take to one like a duck to water also.

The 150P is a longer focal length on the dobsonian so less maintenance and easier on eyepiece selection.

If it were to be a refractor then something like the Evostar 90, or 102. They being easy to use scopes with a reasonable performance.

Where in W Midlands, it is a big area and there are clubs scattered around.

Edited by ronin
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Hi, sounds like he has a lot of enthusiasm.  Telescopes from toy shops would be a good way to ruin it :) - so it's great you took the time to sign up and ask here.  I guess it depends on your budget really.  Simple to use, best value for money, sounds like a reflector on a dobsonian mount to me (especially with the red dot finder - you line up the red dot on the finder attachment (bit on top of the main scope) and bingo it's there in the eyepiece of the main scope).  There's this scope which is pretty good value http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html (£130), compact and easy to use and should give good views of Jupiter, Saturn, the moon and brighter deep space objects.  For a bit less you can get it's baby brother (£86) http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-100p-tabletop-dobsonian.html  or cheaper still (£39) http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/celestron-firstscope-76mm-telescope.html and for a bit more (£175) you can get something bigger http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html which will collect more light and show more detail on planets etc.   All those links are from the FLO site, and they also list a range of scopes suitable for beginners http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes.html

Edited by Joseki
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Hello and welcome to the SGL. What sort of budget do you have. Dobsonians are relatively easy to handle and simple to use. Perhaps the Skywatchers Heritage range would be suitable. First Light Optics are sponsors of this site and there is a direct link at the top of the page. Have a look at what is available but you want at least 100 mm of aperture .

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My son, who is "on the spectrum" got his first telescope when he was 12 (last Christmas). We bought him the SkyWatcher 150P (as a joint present from the whole family). I knew nothing about the night sky, so a I did a lot of reading, and just got outside whilst waiting for the scope to arrive. I guided him initially, but these days, I'm only out there to help him move the scope around! Which does raise the point of portability. He can move it from the inside to the outside on his own, but once it's assembled outside, he can't move it on it's own.

Don't discount the option of a nice set of binoculars. They are excellent for panning around the night sky, and you can see loads. He will also be able to take them with him when you go out. He can look at birds, trains, boats, planes. And they are the sort of thing he will still have when he is much older.

Feel free to PM me if you want to chat outside of this thread, but I would encourage you to ask tons of questions here.

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Hello,

I view the act of owning and maintaining a Newtonian telescope as working one's way towards the observing of the heavens.  Newtonians require occasional maintenance, in the act of collimation; that is aligning the two mirrors, the primary and secondary, in respect to one another, and to ensure that the telescope provides its very best image.  In return one is rewarded with wonderful views, not only within the solar system but also beyond into deep space.  If your grandson likes to tinker with things, then a Newtonian would be ideal.

The greater the aperture, that is the diameter of the primary mirror, the more that is seen, and what is seen grows brighter and more detailed as the aperture increases.  A Newtonian with a primary mirror of 150mm is bright, and will show the young man many objects in space: something new and different one night, or a favourite object revisited on another, and for many years to come. 

The question is, which 150mm?  An f/8, favouring observing within the solar system; or an f/5, which is nicely balanced between observing both: the solar system and deep space?

Here is the aforementioned 6" f/8 "Dobsonian"... http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html

It would be comparable in performance to an unobstructed 120mm f/10 apochromatic refractor.

PROS:

Simple alt-azimuth motion

Collimation less critical, however longer tube makes collimation more difficult

Lessened coma

More forgiving of eyepiece design and quality

Superior lunar and planetary performance

CONS:

Longer optical tube compared to a 150mm f/5 Newtonian and a 150mm f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain; less portable

Alt-azimuth base of particle-board weighs 10 kg; optical tube weighs 8 kg; entire kit: 18 kg

Fixed focusser-position; cannot rotate optical tube for more comfortable eye-placement

Narrower field-of-view per eyepiece compared to a 150mm f/5

Mount will not accommodate any other telescopes that may be acquired in future

Expensive laser-type collimator may be preferred for longer optical tube

The 150mm f/5 with traditional alt-azimuth mount...

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-ota.html

http://www.rothervalleyoptics.co.uk/skywatcher-az4-1-alt-az-mount-with-aluminium-tripod.html

Or, the optical tube bundled with the same mount-head but with heavier steel tripod... http://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-az4-mount.html

It would be comparable in performance to an unobstructed 120mm f/6 apochromatic refractor.

PROS:

Wider fields-of-view per given eyepiece

Simple alt-azimuth motion

OTA with tube rings rotatable for comfortable eye-placement

Lighter weight; entire kit weighs less than 11 kg, with aluminum tripod

Shorter OTA; portable; travel-friendly

More balanced than a 150mm f/8 between solar-system and deep-sky observations; more versatile

Ability to mount other telescopes in future; more versatile

CONS:

More expensive

Collimation more critical, however easier with shorter tube and a passive, non-laser collimator

Offsetting of secondary mirror recommended

Increased coma

Barlow is more of a necessity for highest lunar and planetary magnifications possible per a 150mm aperture

That said, I get great views, both within the solar system and beyond into deep space, with my 150mm f/5 mounted on a traditional alt-azimuth...

post-47381-0-78962800-1446174702.jpg

M42, the Orion Nebula...

post-47381-0-33004300-1446174594.jpg

M13, the great globular star cluster in the constellation Heracles...

post-47381-0-91983000-1446174768.jpg

M45, the Pleiades, aka "The Seven Sisters"...

post-47381-0-14832400-1446175122.jpg

post-47381-0-70531700-1446174820.jpg

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For a 10 year old I would concurr on the Dobsonian reflector route, a lot of apeture for your money.

If there is a downside it is a requirment as stated already to colimate the mirror. Not difficult once you know how and once taught easy enough for a bright lad to do.

Welcome to SGL and good luck.

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Welcome to SGL :)

+1 for a Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount. Quick to set up (no faffing around with equatorial mounts) and plenty of light-gathering power. Collimation WILL be needed however, which can be daunting to the uninitiated; thankfully there are plenty of interweb links to Youtube, though Astro Babys' guide is by far the easiest to follow http://www.astro-baby.com/collimation/astro%20babys%20collimation%20guide.htm plus you can print it out to peruse at your leisure.

For collimation you will need three things:-

1   Collimating Cap

2   Cheshire Eyepiece

3   Patience (at first)

The first two are cheap, the last even cheaper ;)

Any questions, just ask on here :)

Edited by BritAngler

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I manage to colimate my 130mm telescope with just a colimation cap. So far it has been enough.

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I find that my Heritage 130p never reallly needs collimation - it seems to hold very well. I mean, I don't exactly take it running with me or anything, but I've not needed to in ages. It's one advantage of smaller mirrors.

I would say that the step up between 6" and 8" does have a marked changed beyond just 'more light'. The larger scope also has a better resolution, and this becomes apparent with Globular Clusters. In short, in a 6" scope most of them are still "fuzzy, but on the edge of resolving", but an 8" scope shows them more as "a dense ball of individual stars". 

That said, the 8" is much bigger, and at nearly the same size you can get a 10". I'd suggest that the 6" is a better idea to start with. Jupiter's moons will be visible, and on good nights so will shadow transits on the surface of Jupiter - but they'll be as little points, not discs. Jupiter should show nicely, with the main bands being evident (the number varying with conditions), and the Great Red Spot being visible too (though it's not as obvious, or as red, as you might thing).

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Perhaps a Celestron Travelscope 70 refractor might be a good choice. They can be got for as little as £50, are portable with their own backpack, and you get some good views of the moon, major planets and some deep sky objects too. And if any accidents happen then you haven't lost a whole lot of money. Plus you can add extra eyepieces than the 10mm and 20mm eyepieces supplied with it.

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I have a grandson who is just on the autism spectrum.  He is very good with anything that captures his attention and he will take great pains over the detail involved.  So if he is anything like that and can handle something like an 6 or 8" Dobsonian and you can afford it, then that sounds a good option.

But why not take him along to a Star Party and let him see the scopes and see how he gets on. 

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Defiantly, rather than jump in a spend cash.  There is a chance that it could simply be a "phase".   Get to a local society, and ask about.   I know that if someone asked, I'd be only to happy to meet up one a weekend afternoon and talk though my setup - which has two telescopes.  I'm thinking about getting a third when I can afford it (hopefully before SGL in march)

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