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Jenb

Beginner telescope

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Hi Jenb, 

I was exactly where you are now about a year ago with my then 4 year old daughter.  After lots of research on advice on here I went for a Heritage 114p with the Virtuoso mount (which has motorised tracking).  It doesn't have Goto (computer/smartphone control but you can add that later for around £60)

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/skywatcher-heritage-114p-virtuoso.html

At £175 it's a fair bit above your budget (and I started out with a 'hard' £100 limit too!) but I was really glad to have the tracking.  Looking at the planets with high magnification they drift so quickly that it was really hard to handover to my daughter before we got round to setting the tracking up.

She loves getting out to use the telescope but I really hadn't appreciated how rarely we would be able to get it out.  Between clouds (and wind which makes it wobble too much), and the times of the planets rising and setting, and the long days over summer, combined with a 4/5 year old's bedtime restrictions makes it really tough.  In the year she's probably only been able to view (a very tiny) Mars and (a very tiny) Jupiter a couple of times - and (a very very tiny but with visible rings) Saturn once.  With my later bedtime I've been up and out there at all hours, but most of her experiences have been focused on the moon.  Which she's fine with, but it's important to manage expectations.

And viewing through eyepieces is tricky for the wee ones - even getting the 'one eye'  viewing right it's still hard to look straight down the eyepiece.  I often use a smartphone adapter attached to the eyepiece to show the image one the screen - which is great for the moon but can be tricky to position for the planets.

It has certainly kept her interest in space going, but if I'm honest I think there are other more cost effective and interesting ways to do it.  If you can get out to a true dark site on a moonless night - even without a telescope - it's amazing to see with the naked eye. And even standard binoculars will be a revelation.

She also really enjoys watching any launches we can find on youtube etc - and some historical ones too.  And every so often Nasa offers the chance to have names added to an upcoming space probe.

Lastly (for now anyway) she's loved being able to hold meteorite samples.  I got small collection 'from her' for my birthday and Christmas last year and she likes being able to hold them.  https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html 

I'm happy that as she gets older I've got a scope she'll get use out of over the years, but it's the other stuff that's really kept her interest for now.

Hope that's of some use,

David

Edited by Girders
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11 hours ago, Girders said:

She loves getting out to use the telescope but I really hadn't appreciated how rarely we would be able to get it out.  Between clouds (and wind which makes it wobble too much), and the times of the planets rising and setting, and the long days over summer, combined with a 4/5 year old's bedtime restrictions makes it really tough.

Not to mention how cold it can be at night in the winter - there are some dedicated folks on SGL who layer up with overcoats and all and sundry to go out and view in any weather, but, although I have the coats and hats, I often don't have the inclination to step away from the sofa and the fire!  NB.  Considering the nice kit I have this is a real shame - the way I look at it is that I have the kit when I want to use it, but as noted above it's not often.

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Some really interesting responses, thank you all so much, you’ve given me and my husband a lot to consider before we invest in a telescope. 

Ive been spending a lot of time talking to my son about a telescope, what he can expect to see to try and set his expectations right. As much as I think he would love a telescope, I’m not convinced he fully understands what he will see, as mentioned in my initial post I don’t want to mess this up for him. With that in mind we’ve decided to wait a little while, save up some extra cash and invest in a telescope when he’s ready with that extra quality (it will give me more time to research too)

In the meantime we are going to invest in some binoculars, a couple of comfy chairs for outside and some nice blankets and spend our quality time looking at the night sky. 

Thank you all again for your time, this is definitely the beginning of a journey for me and my little man. Your time and advice has been invaluable. 

 

Jen :) 

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12 hours ago, JOC said:

Not to mention how cold it can be at night in the winter - there are some dedicated folks on SGL who layer up with overcoats and all and sundry to go out and view in any weather, but, although I have the coats and hats, I often don't have the inclination to step away from the sofa and the fire!  NB.  Considering the nice kit I have this is a real shame - the way I look at it is that I have the kit when I want to use it, but as noted above it's not often.

Strangely enough the weather, especially this time of year never even crept into my mind. Once again a good point. Thank you :) 

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23 hours ago, Girders said:

Lastly (for now anyway) she's loved being able to hold meteorite samples.  I got small collection 'from her' for my birthday and Christmas last year and she likes being able to hold them.  https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html 

 

Thank you David for taking the time to post, some of the points youve made have really given me and my husband much to discuss. I’m glad your daughter has kept her interest for space, hope she continues! I certainly appreciate the more cost effective methods of indulging this hobby for the immediate future. 

Sam will absolutely love the meteor samples, so I’m going to order him some, a set of binoculars and we shall venture outside, when it’s not quite so freezing at least and develop his interest that way for the time being. Eventually looking to get him a telescope a few months down the line, with Christmas out of the way we can then increase the budget. 

Thank again :) 

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14 minutes ago, Jenb said:

Thank you David for taking the time to post, some of the points youve made have really given me and my husband much to discuss.

Glad it was helpful.  And it's good to wait and not have to buy something under the pressure of Christmas.  As various people on here told me - the stars will still be there when you and he are ready for a scope.  

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I was given a cheap pair of small binoculars at the age of 4yrs old and used them for everything from the Moon to terrestrial in the garden, I was told never to point them at the Sun or anything like windows or other reflective surfaces that clould reflect it and took those nocks everywhere with me...Looking back it was likely those cheap binos that several years later sparked the purchase of my first telescope but with a little looking back the optics in those first binos were less than spectacular and a nice 7x40 monocular would have been much more portable but back then monoculars werent readily available like today. Something with good optics, small light weight easy to carry along everywhere 24/7 and if there is an actual telescope too than even better, but at five years old I was admittedly impressed and obsorbed with those binoculars.

Ok, so I reminisced a little 🙂

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