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Help needed - beginner

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Hi all. My 9 year old step daughter is obsessed with space and has been for a long while. We want to get her a telescope for Christmas (£300 budget). I myself know nothing about space. My partner does, but knows nothing about telescopes. However, he is a very skilled engineer who soaks up new info and skills like a sponge! Which ever telescope we get, I am confident he will be able to set up and use. One thing he really doesn’t know, is what to look for in a good telescope and how to chose one. She will want to see both planets and star clusters and we plan to camp around the U.K. on weekends and take the telescope with us. Can any one please recommend one for us? If anyone has any pictures that they have taken using the telescope that would be so helpful. Thank you!

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Hi, Welcome to SGL

£300 should get you a decent starter 'scope, rule 1 (also rules 2, 3 and 4) Do not buy from a non-specialist store.

A good starting point for the sort of things you have to choose from is this : https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes.html

  where you can see around a dozen set ups between £200 and £300.

Some (like the full sized dobsonian ) will be too big to be as portable as you want, I'd suggest searching on here (there's  a search box top right) to find similar recent questions and responses, and to ensure your expectations are reasonable, this thread is a good guide https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/196278-what-can-i-expect-to-see/


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The Sky-Watcher "Heritage" 130P and 150P Dobson kits come with shorter, thereby ergonomic, f/5 Newtonians(reflectors).  All reflectors require maintenance, collimation, optical-alignment, often initially, and regularly thereafter on occasion.  One or both of the parents will need to learn and master the process...


Refractors, on the other hand, require virtually no maintenance, and are ready when you are...


The refractor may also be used during the day, for birds in trees, ships at sea, that sort of thing; a Newtonian cannot.  But a child must supervised, during the day particularly, and to be taught to never point any telescope towards the Sun.

Edited by Alan64
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My advice would be to contact a specialist retailer such as Rother Valley Optics, First light optics or some of the smaller retailers.  Explain your budget and who will use the scope and what their interests are and they should be able to advise you what they have in stock to meet your needs.  If they are in a reasonable travelling distance then go and see the scope.  Often seeing something in reality is totally different to seeing a glossy picture. 

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When you buy a scope package, the cost is shared between the glass (mirror or lens), the mount, and the electronicsf, if it has goto.

At some point you need to think about whether to buy into goto electronics, or use a manual mount, leaving more money for the mount and optics.

If you choose a dobsonian mount, that is the cheapest - if you buy a manual mount. Which means you have more money available for the optical parts.

Sorry not easy choices. Very good reasons for asking the questions here and visiting a specialist retailer.

Ebay and Amazon are full of products that destined for landfill. PCWorld and the like have no idea what they are selling.
If you let us know your approximate location, we can suggest specialist retailer hopefully not too far away.

Keep asking the questions.

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All good advice offered herein so far by others.

It hasn't been mentioned yet but some large aperture binoculars may be a good starting point, ones which have a tripod mounting hole, and a decent sturdy tripod and mounting head, as one of the most annoying things when observing is vibrations and movement. Later down the line if you decide to, what mount+tripod you decide to attach a telescope onto will be the most critical part (and sometimes cost) of the setup and the one most beginners don't realise how important it is (most learn through experience).

Pair the binos with a good mobile app like Stellarium or Skysafari and learn the night sky.

Generally each type of optical equipment has their advantages and disadvantages compared to each other, the best equipment however is the one which will get utilised the most.

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