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Best telescope on a budget of £50 for Christmas - help.


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I disagree that the mini Dobs would be suitable. I think they are far too fragile for a small child and would soon end up broken. Like Astro Baby I would consider only a refractor.

Olly

But these come on a mount on a tripod and they're very likely to be toppled by a five year old.

Realistically, I personally think only the tabletop mounts (and the Infinity) are good candidates for someone that age, if anything is. And they are in fact quite sturdy.

One thing that's pretty important is to have a very, very, very wide field at the lower magnification for kids that age, because if they can't immediately find what they're looking for, they tend to simply stop looking.

Unfortunately, that makes the Lidl Bresser/Skylux 70/700 a bit unsuitable (even though someone who's nine can have a lot of fun with them and as far as optics are concerned, they're not bad at all in that aperture class).

Edited by sixela
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I can recall being asked to show a small child (5-6 years old ?) the view through a telescope at the SGL star party this year. I used my 4" refactor with the lowest power eyepiece I had and the tripod at it's lowest height. The biggest issue for the child was to try and look through one eye and his grandparents (within him at the time) didn't seem to be able to help with that. He did look "at" the top of the eyepiece but whether he actually saw anything other than the reflection of his eye I'll never know. I did wonder at the time whether binoculars or a bino-viewer would have helped :)

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The biggest issue for the child was to try and look through one eye and his grandparents (within him at the time) didn't seem to be able to help with that. He did look "at" the top of the eyepiece but whether he actually saw anything other than the reflection of his eye I'll never know. :)

I've had that happen so many times but mainly with adults. :)

Edited by russ
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I can recall being asked to show a small child (5-6 years old ?) the view through a telescope at the SGL star party this year. I used my 4" refactor with the lowest power eyepiece I had and the tripod at it's lowest height. The biggest issue for the child was to try and look through one eye and his grandparents (within him at the time) didn't seem to be able to help with that. He did look "at" the top of the eyepiece but whether he actually saw anything other than the reflection of his eye I'll never know. I did wonder at the time whether binoculars or a bino-viewer would have helped :)

I too have had this many times at outreach events or with visiting children. I do think this is a bit young for a telescope TBH.

Olly

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Lidl are doing the bresser 70mm refractor for £39.99 from 21/11/2010.the eyepieces supplied won,t be great but they are easily upgradeable later if he keeps an interest it also looks like a real telescope and comes with an alt az mount.

John

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I think for £50, the Celestron Firstscope or Skywatcher Heritage 76p will be best. However, since you are buying the scope for a 5 years old, I don't think either will be suitable. I think you should consider a toy telescope rather than real ones.

First of all, 5 years old kid won't care much about the optical quality, and most importantly, toy telescope will be made to toy standards. That means they would be constructed and tested against sharp edges, finger traps and other features that might injure a child. A real telescope, even the Firstscope and 76p were designed for older children and teens, so they would not need to consider these in their design.

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Lidl are doing the bresser 70mm refractor for £39.99 from 21/11/2010.the eyepieces supplied won,t be great but they are easily upgradeable later if he keeps an interest it also looks like a real telescope and comes with an alt az mount.

John

That's probably the best for such little outlay for a 5 year old. And the scope is optically on a par with the Mercury 705. Our Lidl scope came on a fairly rigid modified EQ2, not sure about that AltAz.

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Lidl are doing the bresser 70mm refractor for £39.99 from 21/11/2010.the eyepieces supplied won,t be great but they are easily upgradeable later if he keeps an interest it also looks like a real telescope and comes with an alt az mount.

John

They're excellent scopes for the money (on another Dutch forum we frequently recommend them for that budget --to adults!--, but with a 5 year old kid you'll need a lot of adult supervision, even for finding objects (due to the rather smaller field of view even with the widest eyepiece) and to avoid toppling the scope.

Edited by sixela
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Sunnyb, have you consider getting a toy telescope for your child and a better one for yourself. That way, you and your family can enjoy the night sky and don't have to worry about the little one injuring himself when he is alone with the scope.

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They're excellent scopes for the money (on another Dutch forum we frequently recommend them for that budget --to adults!--, but with a 5 year old kid you'll need a lot of adult supervision, even for finding objects (due to the rather smaller field of view even with the widest eyepiece) and to avoid toppling the scope.

I never had any issues with the scope toppling or even coming close. My two are well behaved plus for the time they were out i gave them 100% of my time. At the age of 5 they will struggle with any scope to find what they want. And will need mum/dad close by or helping all the time. I added a motor to the EQ2 so at least once we had something centered they could change the eyepieces etc without losing the object.

I considered one of the cheap toy Discovery telescopes but decided against it. With proper adult supervision they would be fine with a cheap 'proper' telescope. Plus they had looked through my scope and knew what to expect.

Edited by russ
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Exactly. It's a matter of deciding how they're going to use it - it's easier for them to see a small tabletop reflector as "their scope", operate it on their own and to develop an emotional bond with it, but if they're going to use it with daddy all of the time, you might as well simply select the scope an adult would.

And unless you're interested in very wide field vistas, those Skylux/Bresser 70/700 are then really, really good value, and take a lot more magnification that a FirstScope/Heritage 76.

My 16T5 Nagler actually finds its way in one of those scopes fairly regulary, to the amazement of the owners (who're usually surprised I don't deem their €70 scope too lowly for my eyes and too lowly to accept my shiny green lettered thinggummies). Well, unless there's competition from someone with an 80mm ED refractor :), but he usually has Naglers of his own.

Other people, though, would prefer the tabletop Dobs because kids can be left to their own devices earlier with them --if not at 5, at 7-8 years. I do know a couple of kids with tabletops you couldn't pry from their hands. They sometimes won't even let me use it to find an object, they'll insist on finding it themselves and only then showing it to me.

It's hard to know what's "best". I have two sons I do know, and even then you can't predict what they'd like best (My older son's got a 114mm tabletop when he was seven and is now twelve, but I selected it because I knew that I'd not want to have to drive his scope while I observe with mine. But to be honest, I still steal it often for wide field viewing, and it actually has a 2" focuser and its own Paracorr these days). My now eight year old kid isn't interested at all, frankly (but then, he's never asked for a telescope either).

Edited by sixela
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I'll be amazed if there are many 5 year olds who will be impressed by a widefield vista. My two and every other child i've ever met have only two things in mind or want to see through a telescope.......the moon and the planets. They were happy for me to setup and centre up the scope but wanted to be left alone while they fiddled with the better bits.....the eyepieces. But ultimately it was only a 5 minute thing each time. Acting out a scene from Star Wars was far more fun. And Sam reckoned the moon was the death star and Jupiter/Saturn were not that at all but gave them the planet names from Star Wars too.

Edited by russ
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Agreed.

But to be honest, there's a large difference between a kid who happens to have a parent that has a telescope and a kid that asks for a telescope. Sometimes these are fairly well motivated.

I used to be a kid like that (from the moment I could read, which was fairly early), and it didn't develop as a 5 minute thing (at age 12, I couldn't drag my parents out at night with -5°C to take a look at M42 with my 114mm reflector).

An ATM and observing colleague has a son the age of my younger one. My younger son fits your description perfectly, his son was, at age 6-7, handholding my colleague's wide field 5" reflector in his lap with a long focal length eyepiece inserted, browsing through the milky way and asking us about what the different bits of fluff he saw were.

It's really hard to generalise; each kid is different and not even the parents can actually guess the level of interest.

And whatever you buy, there's always a chance that it's a wasted investment. In which case I'd really ultimately sell it - that way, eventually, it could find its way (like many of those Lidl 70/700) to an owner who actually uses it instead of a dusty cupboard.

Edited by sixela
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Again thanks for all of your advice. My son is very interested in looking at the moon, planets & stars. We would only ever allow him to use the scope with our guidance & help. We would like him to be able to see things such at Saturns rings etc through the scope.

Again as many people have stated, we are not sure until we buy the scope how much interest it will spark & how long it will hold his attention for, but we don't want to buy a scope where all he will see is blur as this will not interest him at all.

Can i ask this difference between a refractor, relector & which produces images the correct way up etc? I know i sound dim, but i need an understanding of this to help with my decision when buying.

This is the main thing he's asked for all year & was the first thing he asked for on his letter to Santa, so i don't want to let him down. Can i also say that i cannot seem to find the Brasser 70mm relector for sale online at the moment.

Thanks again

Sunnyb :)

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The one thing SunnyB doesn't say is whether or not he or she and spouse are interested in astronomy. I think that could be the limiting factor - with no one to teach budding astronomer son what's up there, he could become disinterested very quickly. It could be like buying him a violin without music lessons...

David

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Although we do not know a lot about astronomy, we both have an interest & know enough to help him look at the basics through a scope. On my first post I did say that i have bought a beginners guide to astronomy for our son - but this will be for us too, so that we can learn & help him ourselves. I guess we all have to start somewhere. He is also learning about planets & stars at school.

I think if we can all get into astronomy as a family it would be a great hobby!

The fact that we are enthusiastic about helping him, rather than leaving him to go it alone also shows we are taking an interest & in fact i think my hubby is as excited about Christmas as our son is.

Sunnyb

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Although we do not know a lot about astronomy, we both have an interest & know enough to help him look at the basics through a scope. On my first post I did say that i have bought a beginners guide to astronomy for our son - but this will be for us too, so that we can learn & help him ourselves. I guess we all have to start somewhere. He is also learning about planets & stars at school.

I think if we can all get into astronomy as a family it would be a great hobby!

Lidl Skylux/Bresser 70/700 if you can find one, definitely. It's got better optics than the FirstScope/Heritage 76, and it's more sturdy than the Infinity76 (provided nobody topples the mount).

The relatively small field of view won't be a problem for your kids (just for you in the beginning :) ) as you'll likely point the scope to the objects.

Edited by sixela
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No doubt in my mind ... Skywatcher Infinity 76P ... it's not a great scope in terms of what it will show, but it's just right for a young child. It even looks like a refugee from a Fisher Price catalogue! Available from (amongst others) Green Witch at £34.99.

Just be careful with ANY optical instrument that it's not pointed at the Sun (without a proper solar filter fitted to the objective end) - even a toy telescope can do huge damage to the eye in a split second. If the child isn't able to understand real danger, make sure that all use is supervised.

Edited by brianb
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  • 1 year later...
I disagree that the mini Dobs would be suitable. I think they are far too fragile for a small child and would soon end up broken. Like Astro Baby I would consider only a refractor.

Olly

I am partially with Olly on this one. My 6yo now uses my ST80/EQ3 setup when she wants to look at the moon or planets, and likes it. I toyed with the idea of an Edmund Astroscan type product for her, but decided that supervised proper scopes would possibly be more interesting

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If you go for a small refractor, I would personally get an erect image diagonal to go with it.

This is because, your truly here was bought a scope for his 7th birthday many years ago. The scope was used once and did not get used again, simply because in my childlike mind, I did not like the idea of things being upside down. I though there was something wrong with the scope as I couldn't use it for land based objects either.

And sadly, that was the end of my interest in Astronomy for about 25 years, until I recently got into it again and discovered that this was entirely normal. Funny how kids think.

I would recommend a small refractor, Sky Watcher Mercury perhaps. Inexpensive but reasonable quality. With an erect image diagonal. It will be lightweight and easy to transport, won't need collimating or much maintenence, and will give nice views of the moon and ok views of the bright DSO's. It can be used on land based targets, taken on family holidays and it will also look good in the corner of the childs bedroom.

IMHO reflectors are no good for kids, they will get bumped and the collimation will be out. You'll be adjusting the mirrors regularly. Great for us adults, just not kid proof.

My two sheckels.

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