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Best budget scope for a 5 year old


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I'd say, probably this one:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-mercury-707-az-telescope.html

It can actually show you very nice images of Jupiter and Saturn. Moon will be very nice in that scope (as will in almost any scope), and the scope is pretty much plug and play. It is also rather easy to aim, and looks like a proper scope - maybe a small bonus to help keep the interest.

For the most part, the most interesting objects to see will be just - stars. Different intensity stars, some grouped into clusters, having nice colors. Refractors tend to render stars as pinpoints of light and this is aesthetically pleasing. Although above scope is not going to be optical wonder - it will be surprisingly good for that sort of money. This can help spark the interest as cruising star fields can often lead to a "discovery" - object barely noticeable but definitively there, what could that be? Further research will be needed ... :D

 

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As an ex primary school  teacher ( I once had an entire school's worth of 5-10 year olds troop past some binoculars on a tripod to see a partial solar eclipse which was being projected onto a sheet of

Hi VaderAG, Here's what I've learnt over the last three years with a now almost 7 year old... My first purchase was a 114mm mini dobsonian and it was *just* enough to produce tiny images of

I'd say, probably this one: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-mercury-707-az-telescope.html It can actually show you very nice images of Jupiter and Saturn. Mo

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20 hours ago, Second Time Around said:

I've just bought 2 different scopes for youngsters of different ages with different requirements. 

The first was a present this Xmas for the 13 year old daughter of a friend.   In this case I chose an ex-display Bresser 130mm table top Dobsonian.  They live in the country, so that aperture of scope is good for deep sky objects as well as the moon and planets.  She's perfectly capable of learning how to collimate a reflector herself.

The second was for two of my grandkids aged 6 and 13 who live in London.   Here the choice was a 70mm Celestron Starsense Explorer refractor.

The 6 year old doesn't have the patience and attention span of his older sister, and experience with them looking through my own scopes made me realise that finding objects had to be fast for him.  It would be bad enough in the country, but finding anything but the brightest objects in an urban area would mean that go-to or push-to would definitely speed things up, especially as his father has no experience in astronomy.  Moreover, he has to carry the scope a quarter of a mile uphill to Blackheath as their garden is surrounded by tall trees.  Go-to would need powering and would weigh more, quite apart from being more expensive.  Celestron's new Starsense Explorer is a real breakthrough in push-to.   The 70mm refractor version costs just £135.  OK, I upgraded the eyepieces and added an extra diagonal, but these could always have been added later.  The provided diagonal does have the advantage though of being able to be used for terrestrial viewing.

I've tested out both these scopes at home, and that convinced me that I'd made the right choice in each case.  In fact, I was so impressed with the Starsense Explorer technology that I've bought the same scope for myself!  I've converted it so that I can use it on all my scopes, but kept the 70mm as it's so light and portable.

So for a 5 year old I'd definitely recommend the 70mm Starsense Explorer.  The only problem is finding one in stock.

I'd add that personally I don't go along with the idea of buying beginners to astronomy binoculars before a telescope.  A telescope will mean many more wow moments, and will for instance be powerful enough to show the rings of Saturn - something that binoculars won't.  These wow moments are far more likely to fan the flames and lead to a lasting interest.  So for me binoculars are an adjunct to a telescope - something to buy later if you don't already have a pair.  

 

Thanks - this is really useful as we're just down the road from your family (Bexleyheath)

As you say tho, the Starsense Explorer doesnt seem to be in stock anywhere and is a bit out of budget too...

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17 hours ago, vlaiv said:

I'd say, probably this one:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-mercury-707-az-telescope.html

It can actually show you very nice images of Jupiter and Saturn. Moon will be very nice in that scope (as will in almost any scope), and the scope is pretty much plug and play. It is also rather easy to aim, and looks like a proper scope - maybe a small bonus to help keep the interest.

For the most part, the most interesting objects to see will be just - stars. Different intensity stars, some grouped into clusters, having nice colors. Refractors tend to render stars as pinpoints of light and this is aesthetically pleasing. Although above scope is not going to be optical wonder - it will be surprisingly good for that sort of money. This can help spark the interest as cruising star fields can often lead to a "discovery" - object barely noticeable but definitively there, what could that be? Further research will be needed ... :D

 

Thanks, that was another consideration

The biggest problem I seem to have right now is that there doesn't seem to be anything from any known brands available right now at any specialist stores...

Can anyone comment on these similar ones?

https://www.jessops.com/p/Jessops/300x76-Telescope---White-97001

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emarth-Telescope-Astronomy-Adjustable-Educational/dp/B07DNCDPHH/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=70mm+refractor&qid=1604935611&sr=8-5

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telescopes-Beginners-Astronomy-Refractor-Adjustable/dp/B0811JK7W4/ref=sr_1_29?dchild=1&keywords=70mm+refractor&qid=1604935611&sr=8-29

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestron-21024-76-mm-Firstscope/dp/B001UQ6E4Y/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=76mm+dobsonian&qid=1604935732&sr=8-2

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Zoomion-Dobsonian-astronomical-telescope-aperture/dp/B00PZLPEEG/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=76mm+dobsonian&qid=1604935732&sr=8-8

My mum is badgering me to get something now (think she's got the lockdown blues), and is getting frustrated that nothing is in stock, so not sure what to suggest to her...

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There are several mobile applications that can work like a 'push to' to find objects in the sky event Google Sky Eye does push to (free) why not have a play to get a feeling of what it's like now before buying anything. A 5 year old might find looking from the end of a refractor more natural as they are looking where they point the telescope like the one Vliav linked to above.

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6 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

There are several mobile applications that can work like a 'push to' to find objects in the sky event Google Sky Eye does push to (free) why not have a play to get a feeling of what it's like now before buying anything. A 5 year old might find looking from the end of a refractor more natural as they are looking where they point the telescope like the one Vliav linked to above.

We've been using Stellarium to spot things in the sky with the naked eye and she's been really enjoying it. Hence the desire to step up

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I'd avoid Jessops (used to be a good photographic store but scopes aren't great) and also any of those cheap short refractors. The 2 small reflectors are much the same comments as already made re the NatGeo and SW versions. Getting them onto target can be a pain if movement isn't smooth and add to that craning your neck to see thru the finder makes it little fun at all.

Sadly stock levels are a problem what with the pandemic affecting suppliers, shipping etc and the rush to buy during lockdowns and now the fast looming xmas period. You could perhaps register with a few places to notify when they come into stock, could be mid-Nov.

 

Edited by DaveL59
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Slightly over your budget but I found this in stock as of now:

https://www.bristolcameras.co.uk/p-skywatcher-heritage-100p-telescope.htm

I have no experience of the store. As a starter, you could do worse although it's not likely to provide "wow" views of planets. The table-top Dob style has already been commented on for its cons but if needs must...

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11 minutes ago, wulfrun said:

Slightly over your budget but I found this in stock as of now:

https://www.bristolcameras.co.uk/p-skywatcher-heritage-100p-telescope.htm

I have no experience of the store. As a starter, you could do worse although it's not likely to provide "wow" views of planets. The table-top Dob style has already been commented on for its cons but if needs must...

I'm starting to feel like given the lack of choice and everyone's opinions that anything less than £200 is crap I may as well just go for the Nat Geo one. At least then we can see if she maintains an interest, but I'm worried now that anything less than that is going to provide the opposite...

How about this https://www.bristolcameras.co.uk/p-celestron-firstscope-tabletop-telescope.htm

Seems pretty similar to the mini mentioned by lots of others?

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That celestron firstscope doesn't come with any finder so getting it on target will be a struggle even for planets as you'd need to try and sight along the tube. Not as simple as it sounds but can be done. Same issue with the NG 76/350 of that type. It might be slightly better than the NG as in smoother to move around but never seen one so can't say but I'd guess it'd be marginal either way.

As to Bristol Cameras, I've used them in the past for photographic gear and they were very good, tho that was quite some time ago now.

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44 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

Please don't be disheartened, there are options under £100 that are useable telescopes.

I'm trying, but when every site I look at says everything is out of stock, and everything that I find that is in stock is apparently rubbish then it's difficult to stay positive!

I mean, how can anyone look at a page like this and not be disheartened - literally everything out of stock!

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I've bought stuff from Bristol Cameras recently, they are fine. Over the summer when 'proper' astronomy shops online had bare stockrooms, some camera shops had some small stuff  available, I bought with no issues from Camarthen and Cardiff camera shops and Tring Astro as well .

Remember that people on here are enthusiasts, opinions and standards of what is a satisfactory bit of kit will probably not be the same as the view of a child,  and similarly the amount of money spent by enthusiasts is far beyond what most people would consider investing in a casual interest , for instance, opinions on eyepieces usually cite ones that cost £50 each as basic.

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1 hour ago, Tiny Clanger said:

I've bought stuff from Bristol Cameras recently, they are fine. Over the summer when 'proper' astronomy shops online had bare stockrooms, some camera shops had some small stuff  available, I bought with no issues from Camarthen and Cardiff camera shops and Tring Astro as well .

Remember that people on here are enthusiasts, opinions and standards of what is a satisfactory bit of kit will probably not be the same as the view of a child,  and similarly the amount of money spent by enthusiasts is far beyond what most people would consider investing in a casual interest , for instance, opinions on eyepieces usually cite ones that cost £50 each as basic.

While I'd agree re enthusiasts, not all of us are hugely experienced and some of us relatively recently started out. For my part having one of these little tabletop dob's it is frustrating to use in my experience. For a child that'd likely be even more so if they can't get to see much, the moon is fairly easy, planets a bit more effort especially with no finder.

I bought that little NG locally for £10. It had been bought for their son when he was 10/11 and never got used after the first couple times. I'd missed out on landing a TAL-1 which was what I'd been looking for so I thought what the heck. Plan was to fettle it and give it to my daughter so she and her daughter (4) could use it. I added a red dot finder, sorted the focuser etc but the movement action of the tube is less than ideal, small fine movements aren't easy to achieve for me. I may still pass that one on for them to have a play but more likely I'll give them the Celestron LT70AZ with starsense as that'll be way more useful for them to be able to find targets to view. the 70/700 refractors aren't all bad at least the good brands rather than the noname varieties out there.

For eyepieces, nothing wrong with a couple plossls to start with, most of mine are in fact but then TAL supply good ones with their gear. I've recently added Svbony zooms 7-21 and 8-24mm, bargain price around USD49 and actually very good, with the advantage of having a range of magnifications and not needing to swap eyepieces out and then trying to find the target again. The 7-12mm works very well with the LT70AZ.  Maybe a useful option where younger children are involved to save time.

Edited by DaveL59
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Hi VaderAG

Yes it can be a minefield knowing what to choose- unfortunately Covid has hit the availability of telescopes and accessories very hard- as soon as stock comes in it seems to rush off the shelf. It may be worth keeping an eye on the for sale section of the Astronomy buy and sell on facebook  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1849691625242921/  UK Astronomy buy and sell  https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/browse.php  or maybe send an email to first light optics asking when they might have your chosen scope in stock, they sponsor this site and you could ask their advice on your requirements- they are very good?

 

J

Edited by jacobingonzo
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