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Old 03-26-2017, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Could someone suggest a telescope for back yard astronomy for my son. He has a four year old daughter.

He sent me a link to one, but it got terrible reviews on one site.

Reflector? Refractor? Not too expensive - do not want to spend a lot if interest is not sustained, but do not want to kill interest because the scope is not a good one.
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:51 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
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In general, a refractor in that price range will be better than a reflector. A reflector has to have a 6" mirror or larger to be more than a piddle. A while back, I picked up a Meade RB-60 2.4" refractor at Walfart just for grins. It isn't much and doesn't have the true equatorial mount needed for anything serious, but for people from the city who come out and are amazed at the dark and visibility of the sky it does the job.
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Orion Telescope Center is a good source for beginner telescopes: Orion Telescopes & Binoculars: Official Site - Telescope.com

Refractors are generally a bit easier for beginners to use because the optics don't need to be aligned. Look for one that's 80mm or larger (the larger, the more you'll see). One that comes on an alt-azimuth mount or attaches to a photo tripod is also easier for beginners to figure out than an equatorial mount or an electronic Go-To mount. And a high-quality short-tube refractor on a photo tripod can double later as a travel scope if your son and his daughter become serious about stargazing and want to move up to a more capable scope.
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Heart of Dixie
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The problem with beginner scopes is the fact that they can't track celestial objects. Keeping Saturn in your view becomes quite tricky without tracking capability.
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:50 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirt Grinder View Post
The problem with beginner scopes is the fact that they can't track celestial objects. Keeping Saturn in your view becomes quite tricky without tracking capability.
Yes, but a good scope with a decent non-shaky mount AND tracking capability is probably beyond the OP's son's desired budget. And a good Alt-Azimuth mounting is very usable; many very high-end scopes use Dobsonian mounts. If an Alt-Az Dobsonian mount is good enough for my 8" reflector with $2000 worth of Zambuto optics, it's good enough for the OP's purposes.
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Old 03-27-2017, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Reps to all!

How about this one?

Orion Observer 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope Kit
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Old 03-27-2017, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
Reps to all!

How about this one?

Orion Observer 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope Kit
It's not too bad, but it lacks slow-motion controls, which are very handy on an alt-az mount, and at 70mm its aperture is on the small side. This one would be a better choice if your son can swing the price: Orion StarBlast 90mm Altazimuth Travel Refractor Telescope | Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.

(See the long cables sticking out from under the scope. Those are the slow-motion controls I am talking about. They make it easier to move the scope smoothly in order to keep an object centered in the eyepiece so you can observe it.)

Has your son told you what his budget is? That information might help.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:06 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
It's not too bad, but it lacks slow-motion controls, which are very handy on an alt-az mount, and at 70mm its aperture is on the small side. This one would be a better choice if your son can swing the price: Orion StarBlast 90mm Altazimuth Travel Refractor Telescope | Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.

(See the long cables sticking out from under the scope. Those are the slow-motion controls I am talking about. They make it easier to move the scope smoothly in order to keep an object centered in the eyepiece so you can observe it.)

Has your son told you what his budget is? That information might help.
Actually, it's my budget we're talking about! It's a somewhat delayed Christmas present.

That price isn't too bad, though.

Edited to add:

Order placed. I found a discount code that covered the shipping.

Thanks very much for your help and reps to everyone who responded.

Last edited by suzy_q2010; 03-27-2017 at 06:30 PM..
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
7,687 posts, read 4,447,307 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
Actually, it's my budget we're talking about! It's a somewhat delayed Christmas present.

That price isn't too bad, though.
It's a nice scope your son could observe with happily for many years, if he becomes hooked. (For what it's worth, my 94mm Brandon refractor is my most-used scope, and the one I will never sell.)

He'll want some accessories, too:

(For him) An adjustable-height stool or chair.

(For granddaughter) One of those two-step folding kitchen steps tools that has a handrail. The stepstool lets knee-high folks get their eyes up to the eyepiece, and the handle gives them something to grab other than the telescope (which little kids tend to do reflexively - and of course that knocks the scope off target).

A red LED flashlight.

A star atlas that shows stars down to magnitude 6. I've become rather fond of the Pocket Star Atlas by Sky Publications. Sky Atlas 2000.0 is the standard, though.

A folding table to put the atlas on.

In time, he'll want a few more eyepieces and a Barlow lens, but those can wait.

The nice thing about astronomy is that once you have the basic equipment, you can observe happily for years without spending a single penny more.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:20 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
24,113 posts, read 29,197,991 times
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Thanks for the suggestions, Aredhel. I will pass them on.
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