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Portable telescope

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Hi there, I'd like to  get my husband a telescope for his birthday. We're beginners and have a young daughter. We live in Nairobi  and go camping a lot and would like something portable that  we can take into the bush with us (so fairly robust). I've looked at ratings online and many recommended the Celestron 21035 70mm travel scope, but it got quite mixed reviews. Am  less concerned about astrophotography than just looking at the sky. Was also looking at Celestron NexStar 130 but also has a lot of mixed reviews including bad electronics. I'm willing to spend up to $400.  Since we live in Kenya, its hard to ship faulty scopes back and forth for repair. Does anyone have any particular recommendations? Want large aperture, robust, portable. Probably refractor. Any recommendations most welcome, thanks. 

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Hi there and welcome 

I am a newbie too, and looking to buy my first telescope and I have been asking lots of questions and everyone has been very helpful :-) 

This is on my list, though it is a reflector, it is very portable 


Sorry can't offer much more advice hopefully someone more experienced will come along!

Good luck with your search, if you are anything like me you will go from one scope to another :-D 

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Personally if I was going to remote areas perhaps for several days at a time, I would stick with manual and forget anything electrical.

I don't know about Kenya, but import taxes and transport costs can add quite a bit to the price. In Chile I can expect to pay 30% to 50% more over US prices if I'm lucky - it hurts!

What is portable for you, may not be for someone else! Perhaps the best value telescope would be a 6"/150mm Reflector on a Dobsonian mount. For transport, the telescope breaks down into the base and the tube, neither are particularly heavy and both will easily fit in a small car. Except that maybe you have a small car, large family and several enormous dogs plus a load of camping gear - then you have a problem!


On the other hand you might want to trek on foot or by horse in national parks etc., in which case you have altogether different criteria for size and weight. So perhaps something like a 100mm short-tube refractor on an Alt-az mount?


There are two types of tripod mount, Alt-Azimuth and Equatorial. The former allows you to move the telescope up-down and left-right. The later moves the telescope in an arc allowing you to track objects as they "move" across the sky. For purely visual use (as opposed to photography) Alt-az are much simpler to set up and use.

I imagine that in Kenya you have the advantage of many places with spectacular dark skies free from any significant light pollution. This means that smaller telescopes will perform better to an extent - even so, aperture is important. Personally I would recommend going for larger than 70mm as in the Celestron you are considering. More aperture will allow you to see fainter objects and will also allow higher magnifications for targets such as the Moon and planets.


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I should also add, in terms of portability, don't dismiss good binoculars. Hand-held binoculars such as 8x40 or 10x50 can be fantastic. Higher power binoculars, for example x15 or x20, will need a tripod - for example a photographic tripod which you may already have. Binoculars don't have the magnification to reveal great detail on the Moon or the planets, but they do provide great wide views of the night sky which can be really breath-taking!

Many models, brands and prices to consider, but these for example are well considered: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/helios/helios-quantum-4-if-20x80-binoculars.html

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I'd forget about the Travelscope 70. While the scope is great as a widefield scope,i find it lacking if you want to look at planets or galaxies. The tripod that is sold with it just isnt much good at all. As above, i'd stay with a manual scope rather then having to mess about with electronics. The Heritage 130P is a fantastic scope. Well capable of showing you planets etc. It takes up next to no space,so is idea for camping trips. Set up takes as long as it takes to open the box and extending the tube,inserting an eyepiece.

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