Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?

9 years 9 months ago #87347 by johnnyivan
Which Telescope for my 5 year old son? was created by johnnyivan
Hello all,
My 5 year old son has become interested in the heavens but I think my old telescope will be pretty useless when I bring it up from the parents' house; so I'm keen to buy him a new one for Xmas.

The old one was a 50x50 perhaps? Or 20x20... Not sure - all I know is it was adequate for looking at the moon - and going "Oooooh! Craters!" when I was young but I never bothered looking at stars or planets with it as they were still just blurred, tiny, white dots!

So, what scope would you recommend please, and what's the minimum I'd need to spend?

Much appreciated!
John

http://starwarsage9.com
The Unintentionally Comic Adaptation of 1977-1982

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9 years 9 months ago - 9 years 9 months ago #87349 by stevie
Replied by stevie on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Hi John, and welcome to the forum.

Difficult one this, 5 years old is very young. You need something as simple as possible, yet which will give at least a half decent view of objects in the sky. The big problem is, the less you spend, the less satisfactory will be the view. On the other hand, you don't want to spend a lot of money on something which will just gather dust, although I could weep when I think of some of the things I have spent money on for my daughter over the years.

The usual recommendation for a complete beginner is to start with binoculars, but you could not be sure that your son would be able to hold them up to his eyes for very long, or if he was looking at the "right" thing. So you need a telescope of some kind.

There are two basic types of astronomical telescope, refractors and reflectors. Refractors are the "classic" type of telescope most people would think of if asked to describe a telescope, a tube with a lens in one end, and an eyepiece for magnifying the image at the other end. A reflector consists of a tube with a mirror at one end, and the eyepiece at the other, again to magnify the image. It is generally true to say that a 2" lens is equivalent to a 4" mirror, a 3" lens to a 6" mirror, 4" to 8" etc etc.

There is a wide choice available in both types of telescope, and prices vary greatly. But be sure to buy from a recognized dealer, do not buy from a toy shop, and do not buy from ebay or the like, until you know what you are doing.

Here are just a very few possibilities, maybe some of the other guys will have other suggestions.

Simple refractors

www.firstlightoptics.com/products.php?cat=51

The Skywatcher Startravel 80 (second from the top) would be my choice here. Small, easy to handle, supplied with two eyepieces, plus a tripod, and reasonably priced.


Simple reflectors

www.firstlightoptics.com/products.php?cat=28

The Skyhawk 1145P is a superb little scope, and the Explorer 130 is also good. The Explorer is probably the best selling beginners scope in the UK. You may even want to consider the little telescope at the top of the page, it will at least give a nice view of the moon and will also show the four moons of Jupiter.


Simple reflectors and refractors

www.celestron.uk.com/viewsubcategories.p...eries_firstscopes/36

This page contains more examples of both simple refractors and reflectors. Click on each for more details.

Just one thing, whatever you buy. Make sure your finder telescope is set properly. You can do this in daylight by aligning on a distant chimney pot or tree. There will be full instructions provided on how to do this It will make finding objects in the sky much easier.

Whatever you decide, good luck.

stevie

Secretary NIAAS

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9 years 9 months ago #87350 by lunartic
Replied by lunartic on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
I think I would have to go with the Explorer too, the 5" mirror will give fine views of the moon, the planets and plenty of deep-sky objects. The size and weight are not overwhelming.

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better programs, and the universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

Rich Cook

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9 years 9 months ago #87351 by tevez32
Well actually I bought it for me- I got it for 50 euros as it was the last one they had in a branch of expert.

It's pretty robust; sits on a table. Moon craters are fine - Jupiters moons as well.

It comes with a little drawstring bag with a zip for eyepieces.

He loves it.
Would be a great Christmas present.

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9 years 9 months ago #87352 by tevez32
Replied by tevez32 on topic Youtube review.

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9 years 9 months ago #87354 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Hi there,
Thanks very much for all the good advice. Steve - you went to a lot of trouble, especial thanks.

So it'll likely be over €100 unless I'm also lucky enough to get one for €50!

So the Explorer gives a good view of the planets. Sorry to sound amateur again - does that mean he'll be able to see Saturn's rings? - or Jupiter's red spot? - or Mars' surface features? Or is it more a case of being able to distinguish their colours and perhaps some of their moons?

Incidentally, I did indeed see a €120 National Geographic scope in Smyths - but wasn't convinced by it!

Cheers!
John

starwarsage9.com
The Unintentionally Comic Adaptation of 1977-1982

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9 years 9 months ago #87355 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
By the way...
At a School/Parish Jumble Sale the other week there was a Science Museum brand 'TV Telescope'. Great big box, with a little monitor in it. €4! I couldn't believe my luck. Seemed worth the risk - money for a good cause anyway.

Got home. No telescope or tripod! AGH! Just an eyepiece extension, cables, 1 lens I think, and the 'TV'.

Too good to be true. Would have expected a stuck on label that described the missing contents at least!

John

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9 years 9 months ago #87356 by Janek
Replied by Janek on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Get him decent 10x50 binoculars first.

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9 years 9 months ago #87357 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Hi Janek,
We have HALINA Discovery ones, they're 7x50.

Tricky enough for him to look through and hold steady. There's no tripd attachment.

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9 years 9 months ago #87360 by lunartic
Replied by lunartic on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Don't go near any "telescope" that comes from a shop like Smyth's, pure junk and you'll be kicking yourself for wasting your money. Remember, Smyth's is a toy shop for a reason, it only sells toys.

Paul

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better programs, and the universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

Rich Cook

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9 years 9 months ago #87362 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Yep, that's why I'm here. Steve also said:

"...be sure to buy from a recognized dealer, do not buy from a toy shop, and do not buy from ebay or the like, until you know what you are doing."

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9 years 9 months ago - 9 years 9 months ago #87368 by stevie
Replied by stevie on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
John

The Explorer will certainly show the four main moon's of Jupiter, and the Great Red Spot under good seeing conditions (dark sky, steady atmosphere). Saturn's rings will be a great sight as they open over the next couple of years, and you will be able to see four or even five of Saturn's moons as well. Don't expect too much of Mars, it is a notoriously difficult object to observe, because it is so small. You'll certainly be able to see it, but surface features may be difficult to distinguish.

It will be excellent on the Moon (kids love the Moon, so start with that), it will split many of the best double stars, and will show other objects like the Orion Nebula, star clusters, and the Andromeda Galaxy. It will be ideal for sweeping along the Milky Way.

If he shows interest, and wants to use the scope regularly, get him to keep a notebook or scrapbook of what he has seen. Include cut-out pictures from astronomy magazines and also his own drawings.

Also, get a copy of this month's "Astronomy Now" magazine, there is a 12 page section about getting started in astronomy. Ignore the suggested telescopes to buy, I think they are aiming a bit high, but there is a good section on things to observe.

stevie

Secretary NIAAS

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9 years 9 months ago #87371 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Thanks Steve,
That all sounds very exciting. I'll try to pick up a copy too. We're in Dublin - unfortunately - so the visibility may not always be that great.
John

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9 years 9 months ago - 9 years 9 months ago #87372 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
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9 years 9 months ago #87373 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
After all the great advice you've given you'll probably want to shoot me but...

Lidl have a 'BRESSER Skylux' refractor soon. €70
www.lidl.ie/ie/home.nsf/pages/c.o.201012....Refractor_Telescope

If you think it's a false economy/not up to scratch please let me know. I think people on here have previously bought some reasonably good ones there.

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9 years 9 months ago #87374 by tevez32
Replied by tevez32 on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Honestly think you'd be better off with Celestron Firstscope
$39.95
http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=12821

It's designed for kids- he'll see everything you want him to seee - Jupiter n moons.

It just sits on a table / flat surface.

And if it/ when it gets knocked over - it won't break your heart.

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9 years 9 months ago - 9 years 9 months ago #87376 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Hi There,
A review on Amazon said of it:

"The build itself is good quality, however the lenses are appalling quality - very shoddy and feel like they are not even glass. The higher magnification ones are virtually useless, but the larger field of view ones are better. It's hard to keep things in focus. I would personally save up 2-3 times more money and buy a decent one... I was under the impression that this was a specially subsidised model for the year of astronomy to get folk looking at the night sky. I discovered as much fun simply from a good stargazing book and my eyes.

Perhaps I am being a little harsh, but you do get what you pay for in optics..."

Perhaps I should get my old crap one from the parents' house first and see how excited Johnny gets about it all. I'd like to find a way to mount the binoculars on our manfrotto tripod too.

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9 years 9 months ago - 9 years 9 months ago #87377 by stevie
Replied by stevie on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
John

To be completely honest, I agree that you should dig out the old one and see how it goes. If the telescope was for you as well, then things would be a bit simpler. But if it is just for your son, then it would be best to wait and see if he shows any long term interest before spending money. But if you have to get something, go along with tevez's recommendation and get the firstscope. There is a camera shop near the top of Grafton Street which might be able to help you out with a connector for your binoculars. They sell telescopes as well, so might be able to give you some advice. At least, the shop was there the last time I was in Dublin.

stevie

Secretary NIAAS

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9 years 9 months ago #87378 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
Thanks Stevie and everyone else for being so patient. I do appreciate the advice - it won't be wasted in the long run. I haven't dropped by any dealers yet as I always prefer enthusiasts' opinions to those of sales-people.

I've since seen that a few people here and on other forums have used the Lidlscope. Varying opinions: some very impressed by what it delivers for the price, others puting up with inconsitent build quality in the mount and dusty lenses (I think). And not great for urban/suburban viewing?

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9 years 9 months ago #87383 by mjc
Here's an interesting scope that might be suitable

http://www.telescopes-binoculars.co.uk/acatalog/Beginners_and_junior_telescopes.html

While binoculars should always be considered for first bit of kit Its going to be a challenge for a five year old to handle.

This bit of kit is as simple as it gets - though only 3" (76mm) aperture - that's still better than a 50mm binocular objective. No weight bearing required - quick to set up. Skywatcher is a reputable manufacturer. Probably more robust than binoculars.

At £35 it appears good value. However, not sure how one could collimate it if it required it. At that price quality of optics - particularly the eyepiece - may be questionable. Its not clear if the eyepiece is replaceable or if its a standard 1 1/4" fit.

Mark C.

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9 years 9 months ago #87384 by stevie
Replied by stevie on topic Re:Which Telescope for my 5 year old son?
I forgot about that one, and Andy McCrea had one at the NIAAS a couple of months ago DOH! Actually, that's a handy page, I've bookmarked it for the next time this question crops up on the NIAAS website.

stevie

Secretary NIAAS

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