Buying my first scope

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Buying my first scope was created by Jay C

Buying My First Telescope.

This is a very long story and I will, for convenience sake, start my story at the beginning. For several years
now I have looked up to the sky with both my naked eyes and with a small 8x40 pair of binoculars, being fed
up with not seeing much I decided to buy myself a telescope.

After finally pushing myself into the idea of buying a telescope, I went in search of information on where I
could buy one. It quickly became clear that there was only one shop in Dublin, if not Ireland that specialised
in telescopes. (since then more have popped up) Their prices were quite high and so I sent them an email
asking them if the cheaper scopes sold in shop catalogues were a good buy and I learned the first lesson in
buying telescopes, that these scopes are "junk scopes".
Although this shop had very few scopes, the different types had me baffled. Starter scopes, reflectors,
refractors, schmidt-cassegrains, It was like water off a ducks back, it meant nothing to me. So I began a
search on the Internet to explain all these to me and to find out which type of telescope would suite me.
From site to site explanations varied from highly technical to blindly obvious. I quickly learned how each
telescope worked but the biggest problem came down to choosing the telescope I want. God bless them, but
in every site, there would be a question like, "which telescope should I buy?" and the reply being "I cannot
tell you which scope to buy, I can only tell you that you should buy a telescope that is right for you" How in
Gods name am I supposed to know which telescope is right for me.
After much debate with myself and lots of review reading, I decided on a Celestron C9 1/4S Schmidt-
Cassegrain scope simply because they are said to be reliable, usually of good make, and small and portable,
which would allow me to bring it to astronomy outings. A problem then presented itself. Schmidt-
Cassegrains are expensive scopes, and the one shop selling them here were selling them at an extortionate
price. Through my reading up on the Internet I found out that the scope I was after was nearly €2000
cheaper in the US. I couldn't believe it. I was not about to shell out all that money if I could somehow get it
cheaper abroad.
I tried Britain and Europe but they would not sell outside their country as they all had a trade agreement.
more like an extortion agreement to me. I found one web based company in the US that would send
telescopes internationally. I then searched the web looking for information on the company and also asking
questions in news groups about the company and if anyone in general had ever imported from abroad and
was it safe. Getting replies of good and bad answers, I started emailing the company about sending the scope
to me and what risks were involved in buying from them. I must have sent them dozens of emails before I
decided to buy one. another problem then arose. Credit card wise, they only accepted American express and
I didn't have one of those. The only other alternative was to do a wire transfer. It looked as though the gods
were telling me to give up, but I persisted and sent them the money.
Two and a half weeks went by, about 7 or 10 emails to the company and a trace on the transfer before they
received the transfer themselves. All during that time the company kept just saying that they hadn't received
it yet and my bank kept telling me it was sent. I thought for sure that my money, and hopes of getting a
telescope were gone. The relief after the company emailed me telling me that they had received it was
Next came the biggest headache of all. The company did not stock the telescope and had to order it from the
manufacturer. On their website they say it takes about 2 weeks to ship it. Suffice to say 2 weeks went by
without word of it. I emailed them. They told me not to worry, they have not received the scope yet and
when they do, they will send it out immediately. 2 more weeks went by without word. I emailed them again.
They tell me the manufacturer told them it will be at least 2 weeks. Those 2 weeks came and went and I had
to email them again. Again I am told how very sorry they are and that they assure me that they will have it
by the end of the month, Which was another 2 weeks. The next email I was expecting from them at this
stage was them telling me to get lost, that my money and scope were gone. Of course this time went and I
had to send them another email, this time the reply I got was that they should get it in one week, and that the
rep responsible will send it out personally. That week went by and I had to ask them if I would see delivery
this side of Christmas, as it was only two weeks away. And I was told that they were expecting delivery of it
soon but that there was only a small possibility that it would be delivered before the holidays.
The holidays came and went without word. So I set about writing an email demanding delivery or the return
of my money. I was fed up waiting at this stage. Just 3 days after new years day, I got an emailing saying
that they had received the scope and were sending it out the next morning. A few days later it arrived safe
and sound. I got home from work and drooled over what I had got. It took me a few nervous hours to
assemble it properly and after that, went out to the back garden to see if the sky was any way clear, and it
was. The moon wasn't out so I pointed it at the brightest thing I could see and after putting in a low
magnification eyepiece, I looked through it and saw a blur, Slowly I adjusted the focus and when the object
became clear my heart jumped for joy at what my eye was seeing, Saturn sat there in my eyepiece in all its
glory. The beautiful planet with its awesome rings had me speechless until the the sky eventually became
That night, it became instantly clear that all the waiting, worrying and emailing was well and truly worth it.
In the end, the only problem was that the company had not got the scope in stock and that production of the
telescope had fallen behind so there was a long waiting list for it, had it been in stock, I would have gotten it
in less than a week. By buying over the Internet from the US, I had gotten the scope at half the price being
advertised here in this Country, even after paying delivery & taxes. For that fact alone I would recommend
the company I bought my scope from (so long as you buy something that is in stock) :-). Of course I have
all but forfeited the warranty as sending it back to the US would not be worth it, but it arrived fine and as
long as I look after it, I hope to have many years enjoyment out of it.
In hindsight now, I have learned a lot of things and there are so many that I should have done differently,
For example, I should have joined an astronomy club and found out first hand what the different telescopes
are like and if someone had a similar one to mine. And when buying the scope the smartest thing would have
been to buy something small from the company first, to make absolutely sure that they were not going to rip
me off when I went to buy my telescope. It would also have cut out all the fear of losing all my money for
that length of time. I count myself lucky that everything worked out and now all that's left to do is observe
and adore the splendour of our sky.

Jay C
19 years 1 week ago #2052

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Replied by voyager on topic Re: Buying my first scope

Thanks for sharing that story with us Jay C.

I am currently trying to save up for a new scope so hopefully by this time next year I will be in a position to buy one, I am very tempted to get one on te net but am scared of it all the same. I'm glad to hear that it worked out well for you and good luck with your scope!

Bart B.
My Home Page - www.bartbusschots.ie
19 years 1 week ago #2054

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Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re: Buying my first scope

WOW!!! That was some mouthfull Jay C, but I can well and truly see your point! It is not often that someone in your similar position, going blindly looking for a scope, having not properly 'researched' it, turns up trumps like that. I was actually smiling a little after reading it!
I have to say, my first scope from Santa Claus was a 3" Tasco ref, and even now, knowing the kind of quality Tasco is (but I have to say, I would'nt NOT recommend them to anyone!), I can't forget the first glimpses it gave me of what no one else around me at the time could ever dream, know, or expect to see! :D

(many a ) Clear Skies,

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.
19 years 1 week ago #2056

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Replied by jhonan on topic Re: Buying my first scope

An excellent story Jay C, and I'm glad to see it had a good outcome for you. :wink:

It's a pity that you had to go through all that stress, all because the prices for Celestron scopes in Ireland are not very favourable. It's a good thing you shopped around for the best prices, I certainly wouldn't have been too happy to have been €2,000 out of pocket. :evil:

Everyone in Ireland buys Meade, and they all buy them from Lidl.
19 years 1 week ago #2058

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Replied by larrylart on topic Re: Buying my first scope

We should setup a list with shops around the world from eash we bought - and describe each of them as service quality/problems/etc.

19 years 5 days ago #2062

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