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1 hour ago, ClareMcMullan21! said:

Hi, my daughter is really into space and astronomy and has asked for a telescope for Christmas. 
Please can you someone recommend a good starter telescope for her, that isn’t going to break the bank.

You need to give people some idea of your budget, otherwise we could all be wasting time making suggestions that are way over what you are willing to spend

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Yes, not everyone's bank is the same.  I put $500 toward my daughter's first telescope 3 years ago at Christmas, and all of it was used equipment to stretch the budget.  She was 24 at the time, and it was a bit of a late college graduation present as well, but still a gift to my daughter nonetheless.

The age of your daughter will also play into the recommendation.  Even though my daughter was 24 and a working electrical engineer experienced in electronic hardware, she was still overwhelmed and taking notes from my walk-through of how to use it properly.

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If you just want to show her the moon's craters, Jupiter's main bands and Galilean moons, Saturn's rings, Venus's phases, the Orion nebula, and showcase open clusters, just about any budget scope will work in my experience.  It comes down to the quality of the view, the ease of finding objects, and the ease of tracking once found.  Moving up the price scale improves each bullet point.

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39 minutes ago, ClareMcMullan21! said:

Am I being unrealistic with that budget? 

Hi

For my 2d worth, the risk is if the views through the telescope are underwhelming it will kill her interest in astronomy, at least, very quickly. I would seek out a local astronomy club where she can look through some pricier kit, then if she is enthused it's time to consider selling your relatives into slavery or selling a kidney to get the kit that will enthuse your daughter for years to come. There is always hiring a telescope too, depending on your location there is this https://www.ldas.org.uk/observing/telescope-hire/ Try Googling astronomy kit hire uk and see what turns up near to you.

Adrian

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15 hours ago, ClareMcMullan21! said:

thanks for the responses.

Download 'Stellarium' from the web. Connect computer to a large TV screen, turn out lights and enjoy FAR better views of the heavens above than purchasing a 'scope' will give!! A decent telescope setup is VERY expensive. By using Stellarium you also avoid the pains of lugging 40-50Kg of telescope from your abode into a night environment which may be the territory of a rabid hedgehog! 😞  Maybe at some later date buy reasonable quality binoculars for that 'live' view of the points of light.... 🙂 

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So everyone make some valid points here, but I also know what it's like having a young daughter who really really wants a telescope ;) 

For your budget you'd be best looking at the used market if possible, for ease of use and fairly easy resale (just in case of loss of interest) I'd say a Skywatcher Hertiage 130P would be a good option. They occasionally come up for around the top end of your budget - new examples here from the forum sponsor - https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage.html

You'll need something sturdy to put it on to use such as a 3 legged stool

Also worth joining your local astronomy club (lots are on facebook) and asking there for opinions etc, but make sure you specify the budget, they may have some other options and possibly stuff for sale locally to you

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Whilst it won't satisfy the 'want' for an actual telescope, many people on SGL get good views of the sky and of things like the moon, through a really good set of binoculars.  However, my guess is she would be ecstatic with a Skywatcher 130P try to pick one up secondhand. 

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@ClareMcMullan21! I agree with JOC above, one of the little Heritage scopes will do your daughter very nicely and show plenty of good views. Whilst they are entry level, the optics are actually very good, and if she gets the bug, some upgraded eyepieces will improve it further.

I’ve used both the Heritage 130p and 150p, the 130p would be cheaper and a little lighter but will still show you plenty.

They have gone up in price unfortunately so are over your budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

If that is out of reach, there is the 100p too. This will be more limited due to the smaller aperture but still quite useable.

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

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17 hours ago, ClareMcMullan21! said:

Hi, thanks for the responses. She’s 10, was thinking somewhere between £50-£100. Am I being unrealistic with that budget? 
many advise would be greatly appreciated. 

You can certainly get a scope in that budget range. Take a look at https://astrobiscuit.com/best-budget-telescope/

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14 minutes ago, Stu said:

@ClareMcMullan21! I agree with JOC above, one of the little Heritage scopes will do your daughter very nicely and show plenty of good views. Whilst they are entry level, the optics are actually very good, and if she gets the bug, some upgraded eyepieces will improve it further.

I’ve used both the Heritage 130p and 150p, the 130p would be cheaper and a little lighter but will still show you plenty.

They have gone up in price unfortunately so are over your budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

If that is out of reach, there is the 100p too. This will be more limited due to the smaller aperture but still quite useable.

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

I bought my daughter (who's considerably older than yours but had started to evince an interest in astronomy) a Skywatcher Heritage 100p.  I was astounded by just how good the views were - it looks like a toy but has a proper parabolic mirror.  A tiny bit over your budget but very practical, easy to use and good quality.

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

It's very much worth upgrading the eyepieces to something like BST Starguiders if she continues to show an interest.

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Another vote for the 130P here. I have a smaller 76mm relfector which was my first telescope which got me hooked, but the 130P shows so much more.

I also have a budget refractor but struggle to get on with the mount regarding vibration and adjustment, so my main goto scope is the 130P. To be honest, given the funds, I would probably now go for the 150P as it wasn't out when I got the 130 and you'd get even better views, but then it is also a little bigger and heavier, especially when you are 10 years old.

I've also bought a small stool from IKEA which fits the base perfectly, think it might have been the Kyrre.

I would keep your eyes peeled for a second hand one and fingers crossed

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Personally I would suggest a pair of 8 x 40 binoculars.  From my personal experience youngsters often run through fads and interest in quick succession and are easily bored when things take an age, and then feel let down as what they see is nothing like the colourful and detailed images seen in books and online.  Binoculars also double up in daytime use.  At the seaside, looking at ships on the horizon, in a park allowing them to get close to birds and animals etc.

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2 hours ago, allworlds said:

I own and can suggest the Skywatcher Heritage 76.

They are so amazingly bad, they show up in thrift shops around here for $20 or less all the time.  They're hard to put on a target, and due to the spherical primary, only the central 50% of the field is usable.

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17 hours ago, malc-c said:

Personally I would suggest a pair of 8 x 40 binoculars.  From my personal experience youngsters often run through fads and interest in quick succession

^^ Aha the voice (type actually) of reason/practicality 🙂  Clare, your daughter will probably be totally disappointed with an el cheapo telescope setup, observation wise. Even upmarket telescopes portray Jupiter as nothing more than a cricket/tennis ball at 25 metres, Mars a marble. With a bit of luck and good seeeing conditions, one of the recommended 'Skywatcher' thingies might just show Saturn as having a blurred ring. As for the rest? points of light...

Add to which you will need to learn to collimate a telescope (if it's a reflector) and how to set it up (to which, some within SGL seem to have enormous problems doing)!! Then you have the dubious pleasure of sitting up at ungodly hours with your daughter through rain, hail and snow waiting for clouds to disperse for a glimpse of something or other 🙂 

As I stated previously, simply download Stellarium (its FREE) and take @malc-c 's advice and invest is binoculars 🙂 🙂 

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Just a note on binoculars. I’ve been through a similar process, when, this time two years ago, my then 9 yr old daughter showed an interest in astronomy and getting a telescope for Christmas. 

The idea of binoculars sounded great but initially for us (we’d borrowed a pair) it did not work. Mind, we did actually buy some binoculars later but to complement the telescope. Practically binoculars didn’t work for two main reasons:

1. They don’t look like a telescope. This might sound silly but it’s a turn off for some kids. You want something that will fire their imagination.

2. They are fine for bright objects that you can make out with the naked eye and in our light polluted back garden (on a good night) that was about 3. But for a child plus adult learning to star hop it’s not easy. Eg “turn left at Orion, left at bit, down a bit” was frustrating and the binoculars would go back and forth between us. At that point we were back to square one. A tripod would help but that’s more expensive and (in total) up to the cost of a cheap telescope. For us the solution was a second pair of binoculars. I got something cheap and second just to star hop together and stop the “back and forth”. But again more expense.

Edited by PeterStudz
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On 19/10/2022 at 10:03, Stu said:

@ClareMcMullan21! I agree with JOC above, one of the little Heritage scopes will do your daughter very nicely and show plenty of good views. Whilst they are entry level, the optics are actually very good, and if she gets the bug, some upgraded eyepieces will improve it further.

I’ve used both the Heritage 130p and 150p, the 130p would be cheaper and a little lighter but will still show you plenty.

They have gone up in price unfortunately so are over your budget.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

If that is out of reach, there is the 100p too. This will be more limited due to the smaller aperture but still quite useable.

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

From my personal experience with my daughter I’d go for one of these. I didn’t but that’s another story. 

My profile picture is from Christmas Day 2020. Hopefully you can see the “enthusiasm/excitement”. Eagle eye observers might notice that I put the finder on the wrong way around. As we were only looking at the moon it didn’t really matter. But so much has been learnt since then :)

Edited by PeterStudz
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On 18/10/2022 at 17:22, ClareMcMullan21! said:

Hi, thanks for the responses. She’s 10, was thinking somewhere between £50-£100. Am I being unrealistic with that budget? 
many advise would be greatly appreciated. 

Almost certainly unrealistic.   I have taken a telescope to my local club's open evenings and found that the un-initiated are most enthused by views of Jupiter and Saturn rather than deep sky objects.   I bought a supermarket 70x700 refractor in your price range a while ago but the performance was sub-standard. Got £20 when I sold it.

The public were suitably impressed by views of Jupiter and Saturn through my 102mm Startravel with AZ-4 mount (around £400 at today's prices)  and my 127mm Mak with SLT mount (around £600 at today's prices).

You can spend less but only if compromises are made, mainly in the direction of the cheapest telescope design (Newtonian) and cheapest mount (Dobsonian mount made of chip-board).

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On 20/10/2022 at 07:39, SthBohemia said:

^^ Aha the voice (type actually) of reason/practicality 🙂  Clare, your daughter will probably be totally disappointed with an el cheapo telescope setup, observation wise. Even upmarket telescopes portray Jupiter as nothing more than a cricket/tennis ball at 25 metres, Mars a marble. With a bit of luck and good seeeing conditions, one of the recommended 'Skywatcher' thingies might just show Saturn as having a blurred ring. As for the rest? points of light...

Add to which you will need to learn to collimate a telescope (if it's a reflector) and how to set it up (to which, some within SGL seem to have enormous problems doing)!! Then you have the dubious pleasure of sitting up at ungodly hours with your daughter through rain, hail and snow waiting for clouds to disperse for a glimpse of something or other 🙂 

As I stated previously, simply download Stellarium (its FREE) and take @malc-c 's advice and invest is binoculars 🙂 🙂 

No, no, no. 

Clearly someone who has no experience of the Heritage range of scopes. And anyone who seriously thinks that showing someone a simulation on a TV screen will satisfy an interested child probably has no experience of interested children either. 

Does this person even enjoy astronomy themselves? "Look at it on a TV screen indoors" - what sort of astronomy is this? * 

Going back to the original request - I can see why people might recommend binoculars, but bear in mind the following

  • Children often find it not at all easy to use adult binoculars, as they need to set the correct spacing between the eyepieces
  • Children can also find it difficult to manage getting the right dioptre adjustment setting so that both eyes are focussed together
  • Adults can find it tiring to hold binoculars for a longish look at high altitudes, and children will tire even earlier.

And again, as someone has pointed out - if a child wants a telescope, they'll want to feel they have a telescope, and not been given a substitute. 

If you already have a reasonably solid camera tripod (or can get one second hand cheaply), a short refractor may well fall within your budget - I was quite surprised by how good a view I got from the Celstron Travelscope70 when I bought one for my nephews.  It did need a better tripod than the one provided, but the telescope was pretty good for the money, and easy for the boys to use with minimal adult help. 

But the best option would be the Heritage 130P if you can get one second hand (try Gumtree or eBay)

 

* My little joke, clearly these are imagers! 

 

 

Edited by Gfamily
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