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kev100

General moan about 'beginner' telescopes

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Hi all,

I'm sure the more experienced of you will have already encountered this, but I felt I had to raise it (it's that time of year). A work colleague was given a telescope for Xmas by her husband (hadn't asked me first, by the way). It's a Celestron 114EQ Power Seeker, on an EQ2 mount (not cheap!). She'd tried looking at the moon over Xmas, but couldn't find it. Anyway, I spent an hour after work on Friday getting her started, setting it up, balancing it, polar aligning it, aligning the finder, explaining general issues as I went along.

*/rant/ Honestly! Why do manufacturers produce and market items like these. An EQ2 is useless for astrophotography, and more hassle than it's worth for purely visual. The tripod is wobbly, the finder awful, the EPs poor quality. Most beginners will want something to set up/put down/look through/see stuff easily (basically, something manageable on an Alt-Az mount, with a decent finder and sturdy legs/base). Most beginners will be given a telescope as a gift, with little research done, and only manufacturers specs and descriptions to go on (for example, the 114EQ on Amazon boasts of x675 magnification!). /end_rant/*

I understand that the argument might run that quite a lot of people will give up the hobby anyway (for any number of reasons), and a scope like this will give just a taste of the hobby/experience, but I feel that it's equally true that a scope like this will put off more people than cold/late nights, the dark, light pollution, etc. Not being able to set up easily, and see things (even if it's only the moon) will be very disappointing.

Grrrr.

Kev

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i totally agree, whats the point, well theres a market for them and the makers are using it that's what I think but I'm quite mad :happy7:. charl

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That particular model isn't helped by 606 reviews on line giving perhaps a false sense of ok and it's the jones bird design. The heritage 100p or 130p are so much better in so many ways.

Edit: Note sure how the search failed, but the comment above is not for the Powerseeker but the Astromaster.

The Powerseeker 114 EQ is not a Jones Bird design.

Edited by happy-kat
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People sell them and people buy them, that's the way it is. We know how a poor telescope can put someone off, and are able to select something else. A beginner can't do that, and so it continues.

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+1 for this!

We have a few little people (friend's kids) who are into space (I may be partially responsible for this :wub:) .  We got one (now 9 ) a skywatcher penguin scope a couple of years ago and he loves it.  His younger sisterhas been keen to have her own scope too.  A few years ago at the IAS there was a good deal on the little celestron 76 dob, including an eye-piece and finder package which I had got thinking it might be good when she was old enough. She is now 7, so old enough... I assembled it just before taking it up last week.  The scope is fine - easy to set up and moves easily :hello2: (much better than an EQ!!).  What really lets it down is the finder.   Having just 3 adjustment screws and no o-ring or similar to give resistance to the other part of the finder when making adjustment means it is almost impossible to get it aligned and then firmly held (necessary when it will be handles by a 7-year-old!).  And in addition the plastic stalk which connects the finder to the scope is unbelievably flexible.  The cost saving over either a better optical finder or a red dot must be miniscule - but the utility difference would be immense.  It spoils what is otherwise a neat little starter package (even comes with a carry bag :smile:).

That said - she absolutely loves it!  and the views of the moon, even through thin cloud have wowed her (and her father).  I'm now off to get a red dot finder off astroboot!!

Helen

 

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I've got that very same scope, the experience made me go out and buy the Explore Scientific AR152 on a NEQ6 Pro mount.

 

Edited by derekf

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In defence of the various astronomy companies, they manufacture telescopes at different price points. Someone new to astronomy may not wish to spend £1500+ on an all singing/dancing telescope but are prepared to spend £150 for a first telescope and then buy something bigger later. 

The EQ1/EQ2 mounts.
These mounts, and this could also be said for the EQ3 and EQ5, were not designed for astrophotography so shouldn't be derided because they are not capable of accurate tracking, astrophotography isn't what they designed for. Would you criticise the Fiat 500 for not being able to pull a caravan ?

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Totally agree.

Many moons ago, I was persuaded to purchase a 114mm reflector on a wobbly eq mount with an RA motor drive. This was purchased from a supplier I won't name, but who has received not a few positive recommendations on SGL. I was totally unable to get it all set up and sent them an email, and they said I would have to phone them to talk about it. So I did and was promptly told that it should work and I would just have to keep trying. It is quite a surprise that I was not put off owning a telescope for evermore!

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OTOH, there are/were things called "Books" which people read before they took
the significant step of buying stuff? (Or beginning any hobby?) Arguably things
have never been *better*  for "finding out about stuff" via the Interweb (SGL). :p

Waiting for the Loud Condemnation (and maybe fairly so!) on that one? But 
I started out with the dreaded 60's 30x30 refractor and managed to get SOME 
useful experience... Not least learning why it was NOT ideal for the purpose... :D 

<gripe> I once sold an almost new EQ3-2 to a bloke "on recommendation" from
from *another* Astronomer. He had been "sold" the most awful HEAVY 6" Newt
"out of the Ark" seemingly! Still beat me down from £80 to £50 and I also threw
in about £40 of stuff (for free) plus two hours of advice. It also became clear to
me that the bloke had zero aptitude / patience for "technical stuff". Despite his
talents as an "Internet Entrepreneur" and "Entertainments Manager" etc. etc. :evil4:

No one want to see vulnerable people ripped-off! But life is a harsh teacher... :o

Edited by Macavity
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When I first started thinking about getting a telescope and looked on Amazon, I thought an EQ mount sounded great. If I'd bought a scope then I would have definitely chosen something that can follow the rotation of the earth. Life turned out differently and I had a lucky escape (via Lidl). My point is that just like big magnification numbers, an EQ mount is an attractive selling point for the uninitiated over an AZ. I think that's why a lot of budget scopes have an EQ mount included rather than an AZ. Maybe some people prefer them but my one experience with one put me off buying a telescope for a long time (that and problems with a poor finder)

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3 hours ago, derekf said:

I've got that very same scope, the experience made me go out and buy the Explore Scientific AR152 on a NEQ6 Pro mount.

 

Same here, got 114 powerseeker on a wobbly GEM couple of years ago as a present, saw the moon, saw Jupiter, Saturn got hooked. Bought NEQ6 and 200pds... 

I think, if interest is there you'll research and upgrade. Even if it's flimsy, Eq1 is good enough to learn the principles of GEM mounts, and bird-jones 114 newt will show more than binoculars. Initially. If you are lucky :D

Edited by Erla
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We all started somewhere..for me my parents bought me a argos special and can't remember even seeing the moon.. years later my wife got me a celestron 76 which blew me away on the moon but was awful trying on Venus,Jupiter so I saved..sold a few things until I got enough money to afford a level I thought I'd be happy with.. but it still continues.. 

If the 76 had a better tripod then I'd doubt that my wife would of paid a higher price for it..so entry level products have a price tag to match..yes they're rubbish..but enough to either  go into it properly or leave it alone..

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All I had was my dads old binoculars that were out of collimation so I could only use one eye but good enough, luckily it was really dark skies where I lived in the 1950s.

Still got them, still not collimated :grin:

Dave

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Cheers guys,

Whilst I was lucky enough to stick with the hobby, despite a couple of crappy 'beginner' scopes that almost put me off the hobby, I do wonder, though, how many Xmas beginner scopes are headed to attics/charity shops/ebay/gumtree, when they could be being used, and inspiring people instead of putting them off. I know there are books and magazines (not to mention fantastic forums like this one), but there is a lot of often conflicting information out there ... and it's really hard to get it right, or even partly right.

I just think that if manufacturers set a minimum beginner setup (like I said, alt/az only, no EQ, decent finder/red dot), they'd end up getting more business in the long run.

Although no-one ever gets the right scope for them first time, i reckon there'd be a lot more people engaged with the hobby, joining forums and clubs, campaigning about light pollution, etc if they weren't so put off by 'not-fit-for-purpose' scopes.

Anyway, just my 2¢,

Kev

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6 hours ago, Cornelius Varley said:

In defence of the various astronomy companies, they manufacture telescopes at different price points. Someone new to astronomy may not wish to spend £1500+ on an all singing/dancing telescope but are prepared to spend £150 for a first telescope and then buy something bigger later. 

The EQ1/EQ2 mounts.
These mounts, and this could also be said for the EQ3 and EQ5, were not designed for astrophotography so shouldn't be derided because they are not capable of accurate tracking, astrophotography isn't what they designed for. Would you criticise the Fiat 500 for not being able to pull a caravan ?

I disagree with this.

These cheap scopes are putting people off this hobby before they are even started.

if you had to spend £350 for a beginner scope (that was actually good) or the only alternative was to buy decent binoculars then that's what people should do.

I am not willing to bow down to manufacturers who are taking good money off people (who in a lot of cases, cannot afford to spend it but who really want to encourage a child into science) whilst knowing the products are not fit for purpose - it stinks and we should speak out against it!

It should be against the trade descriptions act and trading standards should sort it out, the sooner the better.

So, its down to people like us, to sit here and try to point newbies in the right direction, good on us but shame on the manufacturers!

Edited by alanjgreen
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1 hour ago, kev100 said:

Cheers guys,

Whilst I was lucky enough to stick with the hobby, despite a couple of crappy 'beginner' scopes that almost put me off the hobby, I do wonder, though, how many Xmas beginner scopes are headed to attics/charity shops/ebay/gumtree, when they could be being used, and inspiring people instead of putting them off. I know there are books and magazines (not to mention fantastic forums like this one), but there is a lot of often conflicting information out there ... and it's really hard to get it right, or even partly right.

I just think that if manufacturers set a minimum beginner setup (like I said, alt/az only, no EQ, decent finder/red dot), they'd end up getting more business in the long run.

Although no-one ever gets the right scope for them first time, i reckon there'd be a lot more people engaged with the hobby, joining forums and clubs, campaigning about light pollution, etc if they weren't so put off by 'not-fit-for-purpose' scopes.

Anyway, just my 2¢,

Kev

Yep, I agree with this.

If you got a cheap crappy Celestron (or insert another manufacturer name, they all do it) scope but managed to stay interested enough to save up for something better. Would you then buy another Celestron (or insert another manufacturer name, they all do it) or move to Sky Watcher (or another manufacturer)?

I find it hard to believe that manufacturers have not cottoned on to this. Yes, we can sell them some cheap scope made of bits and pieces from years ago but then No, they move to a competitor and spend 1000s with them instead (Doh! Manufacturers wake up, you are shooting yourselves in the foot!)

I would like to see one manufacturer stand up and say "this is our basic scope and this is what it costs but it will deliver views at the eyepiece to make you smile :) ".

My only other gripe is when well known non-Astro companies stick their logo on the box of a crap scope to fool people into buying it - the good old National Geographic range of pathetic scopes falls into this category.

 

Finally, why am I so hot under the collar?

Well, my parents saved to buy me a scope 40 years ago and it was crap! They felt great as I would be able to see the stars. All I saw was wobbly fuzzy blobs and felt obliged to keep going outside to find more wobbly fuzzy blobs.

Needless to say, I then spent 30 years not doing astronomy (what a mistake) and then a few years back I bought a 130 reflector with goto after BBC Stargazing Live - and WOW, all those objects one after another ( bang, bang, bang, hooked) that's what newbies should be experiencing :) 

(we could become a nation of scientists rather than a nation of reality tv pop tarts)

Edited by alanjgreen
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I have no experience of the scope or bird Jones designs though I know of the numerous issues , but I agree entirely with the mount issues.

A simple as mount is a must as far as I'm concerned in regards a beginner scope , and I speak as someone who began their telescope journey with a 130p explorer on an eq2.

It was a lovely scope but with my garden the way it is I was moving it constantly and basically using the eq2 as an az mount releasing clutches and realigning all the time never mind rotating the tube more often than not.

I strongly believe that for beginners a good quality scope and a simple mount is a must.

 

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19 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

 

If you got a cheap crappy Celestron (or insert another manufacturer name, they all do it) scope but managed to stay interested enough to save up for something better. Would you then buy another Celestron (or insert another manufacturer name, they all do it) or move to Sky Watcher (or another manufacturer)?

 

Good point.

 I moved from (insert manufacturer name) celestron to (insert manufacturer name) skywatcher. Just because my first scope was rubbish, and it was Celestron. If it was half decent, I think brand loyalty would have played it's part. So there you go. 

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8 hours ago, kev100 said:

*/rant/ Honestly! Why do manufacturers produce and market items like these. An EQ2 is useless for astrophotography, and more hassle than it's worth for purely visual. 

Most "beginner" telescopes are just impulse-buys. There doesn't seem to be much chance that the recipient will thereafter catch the astronomy bug. Those few who do, are here.

But the vast majority of presents that weren't specifically asked-for meet the same fate: a few days of use, then left aside for something that is easier, or more what the person actually wanted.

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My route was quite circuitous, but I actually ended up with a scope from the same manufacturer (but not bought from the same supplier!).

Celestron 114EQ (could not sort it out) --> Dobsonian "easy to set up and you can get a lot of aperture": 10" skywatcher, which was far larger than I expected and personally found it v difficult to get in and out of the door and it sat in the corner of the lounge for months before being sold --> Meade ETX80: so much smaller and easier to use, I actually started to see things - this was the scope that did it for me, that made me want to see more, so I eventually upgraded to a Celestron SE (6 first then onto 8) - Yes, back to Celestron.

Got there in the end, but then, I'm pig-headed enough to keep throwing money at a problem until it is solved.

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I think it all comes down to marketing and what people can be persuaded to buy as a present or impulse buy.  I expect an EQ mount looks more 'scientific' (look how they all have the totally ornamental setting circles on them).  A decent non-wobbling tripod and mount (Az-4?) costs more than many of the beginner scope kits even before one has put a scope on it.   In this regard the table-top mini Dobs make more sense as a beginner outfit (not that I am a fan of Dobs), having a cheap to make scope that ought to work adequately, on top of a very cheap mount. And second-hand tables don't wobble as much as an Eq-1.  But how can newbies be steered to buy a mini-Dob rather than one of the other outfits?

The very first astronomical telescope I bought, or was given (can't remember, it was so long ago) was what one might call a table-top mini-dob these days, except that it had quite a long focal ratio.  It had a crude alt-az base, a cardboard tube, and a poorly figured 4" mirror.

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On 06/01/2018 at 12:15, derekf said:

I've got that very same scope, the experience made me go out and buy the Explore Scientific AR152 on a NEQ6 Pro mount.

 

Didn't put you off then?

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Not quite, but the Mrs was put off when i spent 3k on a new one and accessories :grin: 

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Isn't it the responsibility of the gift receiver to be specific in what they want?  Something as substantial as a telescope should surely be stated as a requested item, and specified to exactly the model.  Otherwise you end up with socks and a tie every year.  As with anything you buy - research, research, research!  I think this may be a broader Christmas/birthday problem than just with telescopes

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