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First Telescope Advice and Recommendations


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Hey telescope experts

Someone pointed me your lovely direction for advice as I'm at a complete loss. My 11 year old daughter is really into space and stars etc and want to get her a telescope for Christmas but having looked, I can see it's much more complicated than I had initially presumed and I'm running out of time to properly research and I'm not the type to buy something without properly looking into it and ensuring value for money but all the technical jargon  is gobbledygook to me and is making my brain really hurt as I don't honestly have a clue.

I'm a single mum working part time so need as cheap as possible but at the same time, I don't want to get something so cheap that she can't get much out of it. Additionally, I don't want to spend too much at this point, as I don't really know for sure whether she will really get hooked enough or into it passionately enough into the hobby to go to those lengths.

In regards to requirements we may or may not have which may or may not be relevant, I suppose this is all I have at the moment:

 - I'm based in the UK (not sure if this site is UK/Global)

 - Something easy to use/set up as spending 60 minutes to even get it set up each time will probably be discouraging especially bearing the next point:

- Will unlikely be used at home as I live in a heavily overpopulated city with far too much light pollution (barely ever see the brightest star) so will primarily be used when camping locally where you can really see the stars and have a table or perhaps on a hill just outside of town right next to my mum's house when she has sleepovers. She may have more luck at her Dad's house which is a little less light polluted but not sure if still too much.

 - I know she would like to look at the moon (is this what the moon filter is for, is it too bright otherwise?) plus other stuff if possible. Her name is the same as the planet that supposedly collided into the earth and made the moon so the moon has always been a thing but she loves galaxies too and star constellations.

I did come across this one on the following link at Aldi's and I suppose it seemingly had lots of stuff with it, ability to hook your phone/camera up (I think) and moon filter and was at least much cheaper than other people seemed to be selling it for at £79 but still no idea if any good or best choice. Would rather something cheaper too but this would probably be the maximum cost I could possibly consider:

https://www.aldi.co.uk/national-geographic-telescope/p/713998564198800?gclid=Cj0KCQiAqbyNBhC2ARIsALDwAsDbOg9yVZu-QlaQD_Y6a3cCu2FLQzIvxL_P4MUCm4DN8wvjp6I8aioaAtWBEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

She still believes in Santa for some unfathomable reason and it would come from him so need enough money left over to pay for something else from me 🤣

THank you so much in advance for any advice, Sarah

 

Bonus question - although she's aware of a small number of the constellations derived from my very basic general knowledge, is their a good book you would recommend for learning these properly and where - like a space map of some kind 🤪

 

Edited by Saggy
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Hi Sarah, besides other undesirable features the mount will drive you both nuts...

I appreciate the budget is tight. If you can't stretch to a bit more or would prefer to spend less then:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-76-mini-dobsonian.html

A table top mount, so best used on a sturdy garden, or picnic table.

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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22 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Hi Sarah, besides other undesirable features the mount will drive you both nuts...

I appreciate the budget is tight. If you can't stretch to a bit more or would prefer to spend less then:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-76-mini-dobsonian.html

A table top mount, so best used on a sturdy garden, or picnic table.

 

Thanks so much. I don't mind if mount gets easier once you know what you're doing as we're pretty competent once worked it out but I definitely wouldn't want something that remains fiddly and takes too much time as can't really do it from the luxury of own house or garden plus time is always limited and always at a premium with work and school and going between parents and so on. I do want to keep to budget but if you were to state that for a tiny bit more, that a particular one would be 50% more worthwhile, then I might have to invest more I suppose. Also if it were to be a little more but comes with everything required unlike the above rather than have to pay extra, that might also force my hand. Is moon filter/barlow lens necessary? Not even sure what they do though to be honest 😂

Small would be better and more practical as home already has too much stuff, it's just someone else had mentioned to make sure good tripod is essential consideration so went with that. We often pop back to feed pets when camping locally so size doesn't particularly matter as doesn't really have to fit in car with other camping gear in that respect.

Yes have study camping table etc.

Thanks again

Edited by Saggy
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Hi. The scope that SSC suggested is on what's called a Dobsonian tabletop mount. You'd find it incredibly easy to transport and use: you just point it and go. I bought my daughter a similar one except it's the 100p version, which is slightly larger but will give better images. I myself have the 150p (about twice the size).

Any one of these would make ideal starter scopes.

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You don't need a moon filter. The moon isn't so bright in a small telescope. The eyepieces supplied with the telescope linked are adequate to get you started. A barlow lens you can buy sometime in the future. A barlow is basically a tube with an extra lens or two that sits in the telescope focuser (presuming a 2x barlow) & doubles the magnification of an inserted eyepiece.

The next mini dobsonian up is this:

 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-100p-tabletop-dobsonian.html

It comes with a red dot finder instead of an optical finder, the same two eypieces and a 2x barlow.Watch the video.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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Hi and welcome to SGL. I would recommend that you install a free app called Stellarium which will give a map of the stars and planets from your location once you have entered your coordinance. I find it to be one of the most useful aids for locating objects.

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Excellent advice from all of the above.

I would add that ALWAYS buy from a specialist astronomy retailer. FLO mentioned above are a very good company to deal with.
There is a lot of 'landfill quality' stuff being sold by general retailers and online.

When my grandaughter showed interest in the moon I bought a small table top dob.
Place point and view in a couple of minutes. Money very well spent.

In my early years, I was put off astronomy by being given rubbish that my parents thought was good - the (non astro) shops said it was good.

Keep asking the questions if you need more help.

David.

 

 

 

 

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Due to them being vertically challenged and the storage requirements I dont actually like Dobs for children. I dont like the small table top ones either as they will struggle not to lean on it and get stable view. 

If it was my child (it will be in a year or so when he is older) I would go with something like this. As an all rounder. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-pronto/sky-watcher-evostar-90-660-az-pronto.html

Or this as a dedicated moon / planet scope. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-pronto/sky-watcher-skymax-102s-az-pronto.html

Also of note is that for a child either is good for daylight use with a prism diagonal. Cant do that with a dob. 

Adam

 

 

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53 minutes ago, cajen2 said:

Hi. The scope that SSC suggested is on what's called a Dobsonian tabletop mount. You'd find it incredibly easy to transport and use: you just point it and go. I bought my daughter a similar one except it's the 100p version, which is slightly larger but will give better images. I myself have the 150p (about twice the size).

Any one of these would make ideal starter scopes.

Hiya and thanks

So everyone seemingly suggests the skywatcher brand table tops which I can go with. I like the fact is has chunky wood base as well rather than rubbish plastic or similar.

I looked at the 100 one and I can see list price was £99 a month or so ago but it seemingly is low in stock and those with them left have priced at nearer £150 with postage. I'm assuming that the difference between the more available 69.99 and the 100 is not worth the £80-90 difference at the moment?

Edited by Saggy
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50 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

You don't need a moon filter. The moon isn't so bright in a small telescope. The eyepieces supplied with the telescope linked are adequate to get you started. A barlow lens you can buy sometime in the future. A barlow is basically a tube with an extra lens or two that sits in the telescope focuser (presuming a 2x barlow) & doubles the magnification of an inserted eyepiece.

The next mini dobsonian up is this:

 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-100p-tabletop-dobsonian.html

It comes with a red dot finder instead of an optical finder, the same two eypieces and a 2x barlow.Watch the video.

Again, there seems to be around a £80-90 price difference between the £69.99 76 version and the 100 heritage with those left with stock of the latter.

Perfect, very good to know that moon filter not required at this level so many thanks for this and explanation of barlow things that I can pick up later. 😀

Edited by Saggy
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24 minutes ago, banjaxed said:

Hi and welcome to SGL. I would recommend that you install a free app called Stellarium which will give a map of the stars and planets from your location once you have entered your coordinance. I find it to be one of the most useful aids for locating objects.

Thank you and perfect, will download the app for sure 😀

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12 minutes ago, Adam J said:

Due to them being vertically challenged and the storage requirements I dont actually like Dobs for children. I dont like the small table top ones either as they will struggle not to lean on it and get stable view. 

If it was my child (it will be in a year or so when he is older) I would go with something like this. As an all rounder. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-pronto/sky-watcher-evostar-90-660-az-pronto.html

Or this as a dedicated moon / planet scope. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-pronto/sky-watcher-skymax-102s-az-pronto.html

Also of note is that for a child either is good for daylight use with a prism diagonal. Cant do that with a dob. 

Adam

 

 

Thank you, I just can't justify those prices at the moment. If she becomes really passionate about it then maybe she can get a far more expensive one next year as both birthday and Christmas pressie as they are very close together as just turned 11.

She's only two inches shorter than myself though so over five foot already - does that make a difference? Or did you mean telescope vertically challenged?

Thanks for the info though - I shall certainly come back to it if decide for a more expensive one. 

My friend did point me in the direction of one her friend was selling on facebook for £45 stating it as new and only used one which I think was sky watcher BK607A72 but will assume not that great an option but let me know if otherwise. Box is a little scuffed and was a consideration as coming from Santa but she doesn't mind used.

Thanks again

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8 minutes ago, Saggy said:

Thank you, I just can't justify those prices at the moment. If she becomes really passionate about it then maybe she can get a far more expensive one next year as both birthday and Christmas pressie as they are very close together as just turned 11.

She's only two inches shorter than myself though so over five foot already - does that make a difference? Or did you mean telescope vertically challenged?

Thanks for the info though - I shall certainly come back to it if decide for a more expensive one. 

My friend did point me in the direction of one her friend was selling on facebook for £45 stating it as new and only used one which I think was sky watcher BK607A72 but will assume not that great an option but let me know if otherwise. Box is a little scuffed and was a consideration as coming from Santa but she doesn't mind used.

Thanks again

For £45 the BK607A72 is worth a punt if it is immaculate.

http://skywatcher.com/product/bk-707az2/

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33 minutes ago, Carbon Brush said:

Excellent advice from all of the above.

I would add that ALWAYS buy from a specialist astronomy retailer. FLO mentioned above are a very good company to deal with.
There is a lot of 'landfill quality' stuff being sold by general retailers and online.

When my grandaughter showed interest in the moon I bought a small table top dob.
Place point and view in a couple of minutes. Money very well spent.

In my early years, I was put off astronomy by being given rubbish that my parents thought was good - the (non astro) shops said it was good.

Keep asking the questions if you need more help.

David.

 

33 minutes ago, Carbon Brush said:

Thanks, yes this was what I was wary of and didn't want to purchase anything until I got some good advice from people like yourselves as didn't want a bad experience to put her off. Okay, will stick to good retailers or at least this brand if having to go elsewhere due to stock levels/price.  rother valley optics has the 76 version for 69.99 with free postage and will assume they are okay?

 

33 minutes ago, Carbon Brush said:

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Saggy said:

I think they are different versions - 607 and 707 - are they the same?

Ahhh soz I didn't notice. One is 60mm aperture, the other is 70mm. Still if you want to look at the moon and stars then the 60mm for £45, if you're on a very tight budget and the seller is trustworthy then yes. 

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22 minutes ago, Saggy said:

Thank you, I just can't justify those prices at the moment. If she becomes really passionate about it then maybe she can get a far more expensive one next year as both birthday and Christmas pressie as they are very close together as just turned 11.

She's only two inches shorter than myself though so over five foot already - does that make a difference? Or did you mean telescope vertically challenged?

Thanks for the info though - I shall certainly come back to it if decide for a more expensive one. 

My friend did point me in the direction of one her friend was selling on facebook for £45 stating it as new and only used one which I think was sky watcher BK607A72 but will assume not that great an option but let me know if otherwise. Box is a little scuffed and was a consideration as coming from Santa but she doesn't mind used.

Thanks again

if you are very limited on budget watch this.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/celestron-astromaster-series/celestron-astromaster-lt60-az-telescope.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/celestron-astromaster-series/celestron-astromaster-70az-refractor-telescope-with-smartphone-adapter-and-moon-filter.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/celestron-astromaster-series/celestron-astromaster-80eq-md-refractor-telescope-with-motor-drive-smartphone-adapter.html

depending on budget

Adam

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7 minutes ago, neil phillips said:

I agree it does appear the cheap refractors are less optically challenged than those cheap reflectors in that test. Would like to have seen this in the test. As my results are very positive indeed. Mount is flimsy though

Sky-Watcher Capricorn 70 EQ1 | First Light Optics

All true, but if the mount is horrible then that puts people off. Also EQ mounts can be tricky for beginners.  Mr Biscuit had the benefit of his own suite of mounts to try his optics on, so not really a true test of a good beginners scope as it's the whole package that matters. Especially if finances are really tight.

If Sarah is able to pick up the 60mm f10 on an az mount and with eyepieces for £45 then hopefully that will be a nice and very cheap intro without skinting herself.

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25 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Ahhh soz I didn't notice. One is 60mm aperture, the other is 70mm. Still if you want to look at the moon and stars then the 60mm for £45, if you're on a very tight budget and the seller is trustworthy then yes. 

I don't know them to be honest - friend of a friend kind of thing!

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Just now, Saggy said:

I don't know them to be honest - friend of a friend kind of thing!

It's very difficult Sarah. Astronomy just isn't cheap. It's up to you really. If they say it is in perfect condition with all the parts including eyepieces then £45 is OK. They are about £80 new. Another option is binoculars. A reasonable binocular can be bought new for around £50 plus a book. Views of vast expanse of sky through binoculars can even be quite overwhelming if you're somewhere dark. Great for camping trips.

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1 minute ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

It's very difficult Sarah. Astronomy just isn't cheap. It's up to you really. If they say it is in perfect condition with all the parts including eyepieces then £45 is OK. They are about £80 new. Another option is binoculars. A reasonable binocular can be bought new for around £50 plus a book. Views of vast expanse of sky through binoculars can even be quite overwhelming if you're somewhere dark. Great for camping trips.

Any thats the thing, you cant expect a telescope without compromise for under 100 pounds. You really need to spend twice that to get the full package. 

Adam 

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