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Primary School Help


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Hi,

I am a Physics Teacher in secondary school and also a governor of my local primary school. I have recently obtained a grant to purchase a telescope for the primary school to the tune of £500......nice:hello2:!!!

It's all very well having this money to spend for some fancy new gear, however, I am struggling to come to a conclusion as to what equipment to buy.

After reading around, the best advice I seem to be seeing would be to purchase 2 or 3 good binoculars to start with but what do I do with the rest of the money???

The main aim of this is to enthuse primary school pupils (will be towards the upper end - ages 10 - 11) about science and in particular Physics.

The telescope will be mostly used for planetary / moon gazing for the majority of time as I think the wonder of viewing small fuzzy nebula may somewhat miss the mark with the little munchkins.

I could also do with a telescope which I can attach my DSLR (Canon 1000D) to so the school can have displays.

I will be taking a maximum of 2/3 children at any one time with their parents.

Will the height of the telescope on the tripod be an issue??

As the intended viewing objects will be fairly easy to spot I won't need a Go To system so the extra apeture gained from this would be beneficial.

Have spoken to a couple of telescope online stores and the ones which have been recommended are:-

Konusky 200

Explorer 200P (EQ5)

Explorer 150P (EQ3-2)

Celestron Omni XLT 150

By picking one of these would I be getting the right kit for the school??

Should I go for the cheaper one as the extra money can go towards mounts / filters / eyepieces / software?

Any help would be really appreciated cos it's doing my head in now! :o

Cheers,

Cat

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I think your first decison should be whether you want to buy a single scope and mount or divide the money between two or three instruments.

I work in a school and am aware how difficult it is to retain interest and concentration with kids.

I would go for something like these:

Evostar - Skywatcher Evostar 120 (EQ3-2)

A reasonable refractor on a reasonable mount at £325 and the remaining £179* on something like:

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian

A 6" (150mm) Dobsonian. (The eyepieces and barlow from each are interchangable).

You then have both "types" of scope and both will give good views, you also have two distinct types of mounting. This can lead to discussion of differences in optics and mounts, magnification and aparture - you will also have a bit of chromatic aberration and coma to talk about!

There is enough there to keep four to six kids happy. They can use them (they are easy to operate) and compare their performance on different objects etc.

As for software you can download " Stellarium" (and put it on the school network if you have one) and "Cartes du Ceil" (free to use as well)which is really good for printing off star charts etc. If you want to "zoom around the universe" then Celestia is also a freebee!

* You will be £4 over budget - but a quick whip round in the staffroom should settle that :o

PS I would suggest that you don't buy binoculars - they have to be adjusted to each users eyes and are difficult to hold steady, especially for little hands!

Edited by Bizibilder
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Can I suggest you send a Personal Message (PM) to one of our members - Stardust (Dave). He runs an astro club at the primary school where he works, and so should be able to advise on what works with that age group.

Helen

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I'm a former teacher and now astronomy provider. I would say just keep it simple, no electronics, no equatorial mount, no reflectors, just an alt az refractor with all the CA in the world and it will be working well when you are no longer there. No polar aligning, no counterwights to lug about, no collimation to go out and robust around the little'uns.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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I'm not sure what your average 10 year old would think about chromatic aberration :o

Just a couple of things to think about, a refractor should be more hassle free if you just want to look at stuff, but a Newt allows you to 'line up all the mirrors and lenses' and gives much more hands-on physics suitable for a year 6 group.

Rik

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Bizibilder's suggestion above is great, there would be nothing worse than spending all of it on a great scope, only to have a queue forming at it and not enough viewing to go around, especially if you have a decent size group trying to use it.

Don't know if you would get enough eyepieces with them to satisfy though, would it be worth getting a cheap-ish set just for a better range of objects?

Also.....are you alive or dead (that's a great username)

Edited by Euan
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Bizibilder's suggestion above is great, there would be nothing worse than spending all of it on a great scope, only to have a queue forming at it and not enough viewing to go around, especially if you have a decent size group trying to use it.

Don't know if you would get enough eyepieces with them to satisfy though, would it be worth getting a cheap-ish set just for a better range of objects?

Also.....are you alive or dead (that's a great username)

Both! Wise up!!!

Erwin. xxx

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OK the scopes you have listed are all very capable all-rounders, well I'm not 100% sure about the Konusky it's not a brand I know.

Being newtonians though the focuser is at the top of the scope so you'll have an issue with the kids being able to reach the eyepiece (EP). My kids are 10 and 11 and I own a Explorer 200p, even with the mount legs as short as possible they need to use a small step to reach EP. Which for us isn't a problem as I'm there to hold them or the step steady but for a school I'm sure there would be health and safety issues. Also these types of scopes good value for money but need to be collimated (you need to manually align the mirrors) quite regularly.

So with that in mind I'd be more inclined to recommend a Mak or a Refractor both are highly rated for Planetary and Lunar observing. Also the focuser and EP's are lower to the ground so easier for children to use and as an added bonus they are easier to mantain.

Here's a couple of examples - Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 127 SupaTrak It doesn't have GoTo and it's an Alt-Azimuth mount, it will track objects with it's built in motor once you manually find it. There's also a Goto version for £349 if you decided you need it.

Evostar - Skywatcher Evostar 102 (EQ3-2) This scope is on an Equatorial Mount (EQ) which when aligned will manually track objects, motors or GoTo can be added if you wish.

Personally I'd recommend a scope that tracks as that way the kids wont be distracted with trying to turn slow motion controls on an EQ mount. Dobsonian scopes are also great value for money but again you have to manually push them to keep objects in view.

OK I'll stop now because I think several people have posted in the time it's taken me to type this (must learn to type faster:D), but hopefully I've helped a bit. :o

Cheers

Edited by stev74
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Thanks for the advice so far.

The max no of year 6 pupils i would be taking is 3 so I think I can do with one telescope, but, if there is not a massive difference in ability to view other deeper objects then it might be better to get 2.

Chromatic abberation and coma may be a bit too far for the cherubs however.

I will get in contact with stardust, thank Helen.

Euan, sometimes I am alive, sometimes I am dead, depends on who is viewing me at the time and where I have been the night before.

Cat

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Personally I think Biz has a pretty good pair identified.

Both types of scope and the pros and cons of either can be discussed.

Would not bother with binoculars, fine for a look but the field of view restricts sufficently that you do not see a constellation. I find that a pair of eyes are better.:o Also the budget is for telescopes not binoculars. To us it seems small but may not to others.

Stick your approximate location in your profile, perhaps someone on SGL may be close enough to offer advice/aid.

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I'm a real fan of the Skymax 127 - they are small and light and give fantastic views of the moon and planets and brighter clusters.

I have just loaned one to my nephew - he's 14 and he like a dog with two tails :o

With the 127, you can attach a 100D - but it's not ideal, but you will be pictures of the moon out of it.

Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 127 SupaTrak

There is plenty left in the budget for some books or a moon filter or higher power EP.

Cheers

Ant

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