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Advice for a beginner


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I beg to differ - for a little bit more money you can get a 6" skyatcher dobsonian or for a bit less money you can get a 4inch(?) heritage dob (see sponsor's website). I don't doubt the quality of the pentax bins but for the money you will see so much more through an entry level scope than a pair of premium bins for example - detail on planets, rings of saturn, detail on moon,(awesome), double stars, quite a few galaxies, loads more clusters. You won't see anything like it through the world's best 10x50s.

Also, why spend that much on bins for a kid when you can get a usable pair for £25?

Just my 2pennyworth...

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I beg to differ - for a little bit more money you can get a 6" skyatcher dobsonian or for a bit less money you can get a 4inch(?) heritage dob (see sponsor's website). I don't doubt the quality of the pentax bins but for the money you will see so much more through an entry level scope than a pair of premium bins for example - detail on planets, rings of saturn, detail on moon,(awesome), double stars, quite a few galaxies, loads more clusters. You won't see anything like it through the world's best 10x50s.

Also, why spend that much on bins for a kid when you can get a usable pair for £25?

Just my 2pennyworth...

Wise advice :D

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You will be able to get along fairly well with a set of binoculars. I use a standard set of 8x42 birdwatching ones. I would guess that 10x50's may be a bit big. Depends on your sons size.

I was looking at the smudge called M31 (Andromeda) but it was just a smudge and a faint one at that.

A scope would allow higher magnifications and is a start down the telescope path. Problem is that a scope, even basic, starts out more expensive then binoculars.

Binoculars do give a decent field of view which makes finding things a little easier, and are easy to carry round.

There are sets of Astronomical binoculars that are I think 15x50 or 15x70, often not that expensive. Never used a set and you would need a camera tripod (cheap) to help support them.

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I'd kind of agree that a small scope will end up showing more - much depends on what your son wants though. If you buy a scope and he wants binos it will end up being a white elephant.

If you want some decent bins I have a pair of

Opticron Imagic TGA WP Porro Prism which I got from FLO (see the banner above) and they are fabulous. They did cost about £130 but they are very good.

The big one with binos is absolutely try before you buy cos they need to be comfortable.

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He tells me all he needs is some binoculars

He might well be right, but if you do go down that route, please budget for a tripod. Nothing aches more than trying to hold a pair of binoculars whilst studying the stars.

An Alt-Azimuth tropd ought to do the trick - try your local camera shop, e-bay or this sites sponsors

Good luck

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I used binos for about 3 weeks, daily, when I started and was locating a fair amount of objects. After that I was growing a bit disappointed with the "views", and went for a decent entry level scope.

I'm much more satisfied with the views from a scope, but I can't trash the value of the knowledge I gained by starting with binos. That knowledge now makes it easier to find objects.

My advice is buy the cheapest 10x50 or 8x50 binos to start, or use any old ones you have or can borrow, then buy an entry level scope. If you list you budged and the kind of objects your son want's to see, I'm sure people here will recommend a few scopes you can choose from.

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If you want some decent bins I have a pair of

Opticron Imagic TGA WP Porro Prism which I got from FLO (see the banner above) and they are fabulous. They did cost about £130 but they are very good.

I have those too - arent they lovely?:D especially the "clickstop" right dioptre focuser thingy:)

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Would suggest that you see if anyone you know has a set of binoculars that he can try one evening.

Binoculars will give a decent field of view but not a great magnification. A telescope will give more magnification but a smaller field of view.

As an example with binoculars you can see Jupiter and at times 2 of its moons. Andromeda comes up as a small faint blur, the pleaides comes out good, Orion will come look good and you can see other clusters can be viewed - agreed still faint. Moon will be good.

Now a small scope: well Jupiter may show bands and there should be 4 moons, you should see more detail of the Pleaides and Orion will show more detail. All the clusters and Andromeda will still be a faint blur. Moon will show greater detail.

One thing that binoculars will allow is viewing satellites that pass over. The field of view allows you to locate and track them.

At the small scope/binocular size there are advantages and disadvantages that make either option just about equal. Where about are you in the UK, there may be an astro club near.

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Now a small scope: well Jupiter may show bands and there should be 4 moons, you should see more detail of the Pleaides and Orion will show more detail. All the clusters and Andromeda will still be a faint blur. Moon will show greater detail.

.

hang on a minute.... through a very small scope jupiter will definitely show bands and 4 moons, lots of (if not all) the Messier open clusters will be much more than "faint blurs" and the moon through even a very small scope is incomparable to the moon thru 10x50s. and don't forget saturn's rings - they're very hard/ impossible to see through 10x50s but look awesome thru any scope.

I don't sell telescopes or anything and I love bins (I have about 6 pairs) but if you're starting out in astronomy, surely it's no contest?

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Your're right I have no idea why I said clusters, they are basically a bunch of stars and would show up as a bunch of stars. Even with that a lot are still faint, especially in our general skies. M13 is still just a faint blur as is the double cluster. Skies aren't exactly dark here but are I suspect average.

I had been looking at M31 and simply lumped the lot together. Could I get away with M31 is simply a big cluster:D:D:D:D:D

As to Saturn, well I have seen it but always through a scope of some size, last time a 10 inch refractor at CAA (we never got to try the 3mtr one:(:D - something called cloud), previous to that a 102mm refractor (about F8) at a demo by Widescreen. When I did try with a small one all I got was a small disk and nothing else.

The moon I find depends on what you like to see, again on the 10 inch refractor at CAA we looked at a single crater, nice but I still like a view of the moon, as in all that is there in one eyeful. It impresses me more and the 8x, 10x and 20x binoculars do a good job of that.

The advantage of binoculars is that you pick them up and look through them, even a small scope has to be set up a little. I have 3 of each. I usually use the bins to have a look and locate whatever I have half an interest in, then another night I may get a scope out for more detail.

At the end of it a scope should win out, they are intended for the purpose of looking at the stars, binoculars are more general.

Really we have little/no idea what the GCSE needs you to look and and do. Know someone did the UCLAN Intro to Astronomy course with just binoculars so they may well be adaquate for GCSE.

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