So, realistically...

9 years 6 months ago #87675 by johnnyivan
So, realistically... was created by johnnyivan
Hi All,

My son and I have a 45x magnification terrestrial refractor telescope - on loan, just to see if he gets into astromomy. He's only 5 and to be honest, when I finally manage to get one of those bright little dots in view he says - and I have to admit I do too - "Yep, it still looks like a dot." Due to my total ignorance, I'm guessing that it's Venus.

I mean no disrespect - I really am clueless about the heavens - but is he seriously going to enjoy viewing anything but the moon from suburban Dublin? - with this scope?

I'm guessing that we need a better scope; a clearer sky; and even then, a certain level of knowledge to appreciate what it is one is actually looking at.

I'm thinking that the latter might even be the most important element right from the start. Especially when beginners are told that they really only need decent binoculars - in fact just their own eyes to get started. It seems that it's the process of learning about what's there, why and how, that's the main thing; rather that enjoying viewing it via the scope and realising that you're actually seeing the rings of Saturn with your own eyes.

Could be that unless he has access to an incredible telescope, a 5 year old mightn't get too interested!

John

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9 years 6 months ago #87676 by lunartic
Replied by lunartic on topic Re:So, realistically...
A pair of binos is the best route John, and if the worst comes to the worst, you will still have a pair of binoculars.

You say it's x45, what is the size of the objective, the main lens of the scope? Does it come with different eyepieces? Does it have a name?

Where are you located? There are plenty of clubs around the country and many of them conduct observing nights for the public, I believe that the IAS is having such a night this Thursday, I could be wrong, and they take place at the strand in Sandymount. Bring your son along to one of these, there are plenty of folks who will only be too happy to help and give both of you the opportunity to see through a variety of scopes.

Hope this helps.

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 6 months ago - 9 years 6 months ago #87677 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:So, realistically...
Hi Paul,
That sounds interesting alright - it'd be good to go along.

I'll just see if I can measure the lens now. Presumably I can just measure its diameter with a ruler.

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9 years 6 months ago - 9 years 6 months ago #87678 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:So, realistically...
Ok here goes.


Brother-in-Law's Chldhood one on loan (he says it's good) great for the moon:

Make unknown
Refractor
Terrestrial
40mm diameter lens (I reckon)
Mag marked as 15x - 35x (suspect it goes out to 50x)

Childhood One:
Make unknown
Refractor
Terrestrial
40 x 40mm (label)
Appears to be broken - but never very inspirational anyway.

Toy one brought back from sister's house last week!

Edu-Toys :)
35x - 50x
45mm or 50mm Dia lens
No eyepiece!

Oh yes, we're in Monkstown, Dublin so: handy for Sandymount.

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9 years 6 months ago #87680 by darren
Replied by darren on topic Re:So, realistically...
Having a five year old myself I would recommend not buying binos as they cannot hold them steady unless you buy a tripod,the kids find the telescope aspect exciting so for young kids I would go the scope route,you dont have to spend a fourtune either

regards Darren

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9 years 6 months ago - 9 years 6 months ago #87681 by lunartic
Replied by lunartic on topic Re:So, realistically...
Good point Darren, never thought of that. :blush:

The meeting at Sandymount is Friday I believe, not Thursday, check the Irish Astronomical Society website for details.

Your scopes do sound like toy scopes, but Galileo's scope was only 50mm in diameter and look what he did.

There are some very good scopes for beginners such as the Skywatcher Heritage 130 or an 8" dob if you want something a little bigger.

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 6 months ago #87682 by Janek
Replied by Janek on topic Re:So, realistically...
Moon is nice target. Also planets and binary stars can be observed anywhere :-)

I think what you need is sky polution filter (CLS) or something similar. Make sure it fits your telescope first.

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9 years 6 months ago - 9 years 6 months ago #87683 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:So, realistically...
Hi There,
So you think the "sky polution filter" will really make much difference? Honestly, I haven't seen a great sky in Dublin ever. Down the country in Kildare was exiting with the naked eye when I was young, and Doolan one night after the pub a few years ago was awe-inspiring. It was almost as if we were IN space it was so clear.

It's hard not to shake the feeling that really, you need to have a pretty good knowledge of what's up there to get excited about it when you're basically seeing tiny dots through a 40-50mm scope.

Next time we're in the countryside we'll definitely bring a scope with us.

(The moon does indeed look amazing via the brother-in-law's scope)

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9 years 6 months ago #87684 by mjc
Replied by mjc on topic Re:So, realistically...
Five is awfully young. Introducing the WOW! factor with the limited scopes that you have is of value but - I suspect - not something that can be pursued with ongoing profit.

I'm absolutely for the encouragement of a young enquiring mind. For the child to develop an interest there must be ongoing rewards. There must be a personal interest of the child in this subject or the child would need to be mentored - which means that you would have to develop to some degree with the child. There are some very fine books for the young on astronomy (I was impressed with one while waiting at a dentist's surgery).

I'd suggest that - yes - give the child one or more WOW! experiences with seeing what's up there - but I wouldn't invest anything significant until the child clearly developed a self-motivated interest.

I'd caution (but I am not a parent so that's a caveat) that we can't (or shouldn't) shoe-fit children into any "narrow-band" perceptions of what's good for them. Encourage the enquiring mind in any (and every) direction that you can find. This includes art and maths based subjects (patterns and the value of numbers). And I really value (but am under educated in) music - some of the brightest people I've ever worked with - or met - have had some form of musical training.

Look up at the sky with the child and in-still a sense of difference (patterns) - that star is in a different place with respect to the moon than it was yesterday - can we think of why that is?

Why are there more faint stars than bright stars?

Do you see a difference in colour between, say, that star and that other star?

Remember that really bright star we looked at on your birthday - why do you think we can't see it tonight?

Very difficult task - but full support in your endeavours.

Please forgive the rant - but I'm mindful of the fact that the young of today are going to determine my morphine levels at exit - and I want them to be as well educated as we can achieve!


Mark C.

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9 years 6 months ago #87687 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:So, realistically...
Hi Mark,
I wouldn't call that a rant! It was thoughtful and helpful - many thanks. You put a lot of effort into it.

You're right and I think you can see that I suspect the same myself. Johnny loves Star Wars and is curious about the night sky. After looking through binoculars and seeing - basically sod all :) - he'd keep asking to go out and have another look. So, I thought a telescope would be good idea. BBC's fascinating and fun Skywatching programmes last week were largely ignored by him and we didn't really get to enjoy them either!

I think books, drawing, talking about it and going along to the special observation events as mentioned by Paul would be best for now - if he's interested. We can still have a look at the moon from time to time and as I said, we'll bring the better of the scopes with us when we're on holidays in the countryside.

Thanks Mark and everyone,
John

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9 years 6 months ago #87688 by glenbrook
Replied by glenbrook on topic Re:So, realistically...
Hi Johnny,

Congrats for getting your 5 year old looking at something real and not plonked infront of a DVD like 99% of the rest of the population.

As for your disappointment at seeing just another dot, I hear you.
Yes, on one level that's all you see, another dot. Amateur astronomy can be a disappointing hobby. Many things conspire against us including the weather, massive distance and expense required for a good view.

Technically, a better scope, clearer skies and binos will all help. Regarding binos, it took me three nights to find M33 in my 8.75inch telescope (a galaxy the same size as the full moon) despite the fact that with my €20 Aldi binos I could see it fine! Problem with binos is the need to crane your neck back is awkward.

One thing I would say is that it takes time to get your eye in. What I mean by this is that visual observing (astronomy, birdwatching, geology) is always much more subtle than is shown in books or tv. This fact continues to catch me again and again.
A couple of years ago I went fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, Dorset. I had read about it and was told that the place was literally built from fossils. There were plenty in the gift shops, but I wanted to find one of my own on the beach. After about 40 minutes wandering slowly down the beach I was getting frustrated because I couldn't see ANYTHING. I assumed I was in the wrong place. Then I saw a faint impression in the rock, then another and another. At this point I realised that I had been literally walking over a carpet of fossils for half a mile before I got my eye in.

With astronomy, a similar process happens with faint nebulae. You think they are just not there until you see one, much fainter that you thought. Then you wonder "Why am I looking at this faint smudge?" Then you remember that that faint smudge is all that remains of a star that exploded in 1054 shining so brightly that it was visible during the day. Then you swing over to Betelgeuse, a bright orange dot in Orion, and recall that it is a red supergiant larger than the orbit of Jupiter and is about to explode itself, maybe in a million years, maybe tomorrow night.

Now as regards your five year old, it's hard to imagine any five year old with the patience required for anything other than the moon. Then again, the moon is a pretty spectacular thing to look at through a telescope. Combine this with stories, DVDS about Apollo etc and this should be an exciting to anyone. Jupiter is another pretty good target at the moment, clear in even in light polluted skies and it is high in the sky early in the evening, before bedtime. You can see the moons and then go back inside to see bigger pictures in a book or on the net. Saturn too, if you get up early on a clear morning, but I think your scope may be too small.

Clear skies to you both!

Philip

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9 years 6 months ago #87689 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:So, realistically...
Fascinating Philip!

I really enjoyed your post. I know what you mean about "getting your eye in". An archaeologist said to me that if he walks across a ploughed field in an area that was settled in neolithic times - he'll probably spot something of interest amongst the stones within a minute or so.

I also recall when I lived in Kildare that many times I would see a faint cluster of stars only through the 'corner of my eye' - I could never then look directly and see them at all. I'm sure you have a term for this phenomenon.

----

I must find out how charts work as I honestly haven't a clue where to look. I suspect the prominent, low 'star' that seems to follwoing the moon at present is probably venus but that's about the extent of it apart from being able to find Orion. Oh, and that big moonlike thing: the moon.

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9 years 6 months ago #87690 by dmcdona
Replied by dmcdona on topic Re:So, realistically...
John - here's an alternative to a telescope/binoculars you might consider for a curious five-year old:

www.celestron.com/c3/category.php?CatID=57

With the multimedia element, it will probably be far more productive and exciting. If there's a birthday coming up...



Mark:
"I'm mindful of the fact that the young of today are going to determine my morphine levels at exit - and I want them to be as well educated as we can achieve!"

One of the best lines I've seen here, ever... And so true!


Dave

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9 years 6 months ago #87694 by glenbrook
Replied by glenbrook on topic Re:So, realistically...
The technical term is "averted vision". The eye is more sensitive in black and white, but about 15 degrees off centre from your normal colour vision. It's the only way to see some faint objects.

That star following the moon, sounds like Jupiter. Venus is in the morning at the moment. If you have decent vision, 10x50 binoculars and something to steady them, you may be able to see its moons which appear as tiny dots next to it in a line.
Binos are very hard for kids to use though, because they can't adjust the eyepieces to be close enough for their small heads.
Your 40mm telescope should manage this as well, if you focus it just right.

Instead of star charts, download Stellarium, its a free planetarium that runs on any PC/Mac and it is absolutely brilliant. In fact you can also get apps for an iPhone/Android that do the same thing so you can take it outside with you whenever you need to identify something.

The skyscout has been mentioned, there's one for sale on adverts.ie for €160. I never tried it, but it's supposed to be good.

Sounds like you are well on your way!

Philip

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9 years 6 months ago #87695 by johnnyivan
Replied by johnnyivan on topic Re:So, realistically...
Hi Philip,
Thanks for that. Nice to know the dot we're squinting at is possibly Jupiter. Now, that is a bit exciting. I'll watch out for Venus in the morning now too.

Downloading Stellarium as I type this. Tell you what else I still need to do is buy Astromomy Ireland's Dec. issue.

€160 is a bit steep just at the moment. We'll see things go first.

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9 years 6 months ago #87706 by lunartic
Replied by lunartic on topic Re:So, realistically...
The IAS are meeting at Sandymount from 8.00 on Friday evening, come along for a chat, even if the clouds are total.

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 6 months ago #87709 by flt158
Replied by flt158 on topic Re:So, realistically...
I hope to be there, Paul, with 6.2" refractor, and my new Pentax 10mm eyepiece.But only if the skies are clear.


Yours sincerely, Aubrey.

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