First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

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bmeeder
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First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#1

Post by bmeeder »

Our 6 year old grandson asked for a telescope for Christmas. I remember having a very cheap one as a kid and basically couldn't see anything in the sky through it. We're hoping our grandson and his Dad might develop a joy for stargazing as a hobby in the years ahead. We purchased a Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ reflector scope. After it arrived, we got on some message boards and are worried this may not be the right instrument for them. People say the tripod base is hard to set-up and carry, and adjust. The eyepiece may not be easy to see through for a kid that young. Some people suggested a refractor instead of reflector for first scope. Now we don't know what to do. The dollar amount isn't really an issue. We just want them to have a good first experience. Can anyone who's knowledgeable help us make a decision? Thanks very much for your time!
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#2

Post by Bigzmey »

Welcome to the forum!
Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ been reflector on the equatorial mount does not make IMO good beginner scope. I would suggest a small refractor on alt-azimuth mount. We had such setup when my daughter got interested in astronomy and it was very intuitive for her to operate. Unfortunately, many of scopes are out of stock now, but I found this model:

Orion VersaGo E-Series 90mm Altazimuth Refractor

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/Orion-V ... 130975.uts
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; iOptron: Hankmeister 150mm Mak F12; SW: 180mm Mak F15; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#3

Post by helicon »

Good advice from Bigzmey above. A smaller refractor will be easier to handle than a 130 on an equatorial mount.
-Michael
Various scopes, 10" Zhumell Dob f/4.9, ES AR152 f/6.5, AWB 5.1" Onesky newt, Oberwerk 25x100 binos, two eyeballs. Camera: ZWO ASI 120
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#4

Post by Michael131313 »

I agree with the above. My first scope was a reflector on an equatorial mount. Collimation is a continual issue and sometimes not easy for a beginner. At first I found that the equatorial mount was not too intuitive and had to get used to it. I now have a refractor on a alt-az mount. No collimation issues and the mount is very intuitive. Hope this helps.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#5

Post by bmeeder »

helicon wrote: Fri Nov 19, 2021 10:33 pm Good advice from Bigzmey above. A smaller refractor will be easier to handle than a 130 on an equatorial mount.
Thank you both very very much.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#6

Post by OzEclipse »

I also agree with Andrey. Keep it really simple to begin.

You definitely don't want a newtonian because you or her dad will forever be trying to hold her stable at the eyepiece.
I think that particular scope is a poor implementation of the Bird-Jones design, hard to accurately collimate.

Also recommend just buy economic Plosl eyepieces eg GSO superviews. Many of the fancier eyepiece variants are very sensitive to eye location.
An ordinary old Plosl is easy if not exciting to look through.

This article by Alan Dyer contains quite good commonsense advice.
https://astrogeartoday.com/top-ten-tips ... telescope/

In particular, the first tip states:-
TIP 1: Don’t Buy a Telescope!

Advice in my previous Ten Steps to Success article on AGT also applies here as a number one top tip when buying a telescope. In short, don’t! Not until you are ready.

You buy a telescope and excitedly set it up. Now what are you going to look at? The Moon is easy to find and spectacular! But after that? Do you know where the planets are?

Even if you buy a high-tech telescope that promises to find celestial wonders for you, getting it going often requires that you correctly identify bright stars. Telescopes that can auto-align without you “having to know a star in the sky” can still leave you lost in space, wondering what to look at. Do you know what a Messier object is? And which ones are best to look at?

Getting the most out of any telescope requires you have a basic familiarity with the sky. You’re ready for a telescope when: 1) You can identify the brightest stars by name, 2) Find the major planets, and 3) Point to the main constellations, and 4) to the locations of popular targets such as the Andromeda Galaxy and Orion Nebula.

That pre-requisite “Astro 101” knowledge comes from first spending a few months exploring the sky with a simple star chart, guidebook, and binoculars. Don’t spend money; spend time. That’s true whether you are buying for yourself or for a child. Help them (and you!) learn the sky first in family stargazing sessions under the stars. Discover the sky together.


This is a statement in the article that mirrors my thoughts every time I see a post on a facebook astro group that goes something like, "I am a complete newbie, I bought a computerised telescope but I don't know how to set it up. Please help." After numerous exchanges, we discover that the new owner can't recognise any stars, does not know how to polar align(if EQ scope). It is also a problem we are seeing with many of the rural telescope owners in the regional astronomy club we started earlier this year. It covers a triangular area roughly 100km on each side. I have helped a couple of my local people. One had owned an 8" GSO re-badge scope for a couple of years. The scope was way out of collimation, the finderscope not aligned. Worst of all, the plastic sleeve around the Crayford focuser focussing shaft had slipped and the whole focussing tube wouldn't hold position and could tilt 15 deg side to side. I didn't just fix it for him but I showed him what was wrong and how to fix and adjust everything in case it happened again. He does a lot of work on cars so once I explained it, i'm sure he'll be fine.

The point I am trying to make is that they will need to learn how to use and adjust the scope and how to find their way around the sky before they can use any scope successfully. They are lucky to have you to teach them. Simulation Curriculum currently has a 50% off special on Starry Night Complete Space 8, a beginner oriented planetarium program. Normally USD60, it is currently on special for half price. USD29.95. This is a computer based program not a tablet or mobile phone app. It looks to have plenty to help them learn. I use a more advanced version of this program USD250 and it's excellent. This product seems to have the same base level features of realistic sky rendering. The high end versions include computerised telescope control and catalogues that include very very faint stars, not neccessary for your grandson at this stage.
https://store.simulationcurriculum.com/ ... omy-pack-8


Joe
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#7

Post by Richard »

Yes very important to have at least a basic knowledge
Agree a refractor on an alt/Az mount would be much better
I used to have the 130 astromaster its not a BJ scope , just a normal cheap reflector with a focal length of 650 so a f5 so not hard to collimate, however the early versions had a pathetic finder that made it virtually unusable and unfortunately like all cheap EQ mount scopes its undermounted so the scope always vibrates with the smallest of touch ,so for a 6 year year old virtually impossible to use
Reflectors GSO 200 Dobs , Sky-watcher 10 inch Dobs
Refractors Tasco 10TE-5
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#8

Post by notFritzArgelander »

Agreed. Small altaz refractor first. More complicated later, Perhaps binoculars?
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#9

Post by OzEclipse »

notFritzArgelander wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:02 am Agreed. Small altaz refractor first. More complicated later, Perhaps binoculars?
This advice ok for adults and older children. They probably need something that dad can pre-point for the 6yo child. Young kids can't hold binoculars very steady and can't find things. Refractor on altaz probably better.
"34 South: The Hilltops Observatory"
Central West NSW
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Joe Cali

Bortle 1-2 skies, 148 E, 34 S

Amateur astronomer since 1978
Astronomical interests : astrophotography, visual observing, nightscape photography, solar eclipse chasing
asteroidal occultations, nightscape astrophotography workshops

web site : http://joe-cali.com/
Scopes: ATM 18" Dob, Vixen VC200L, ATM 6"f7, ED80, M70, Orion 102 Maksutov, ST80.
Mounts: Takahashi EM-200, iOptron iEQ45, Push dobsonian with Nexus DSC, three homemade EQ's.
Eyepieces: TV 31, 17, 12, 7 Naglers; D21, D14 Denkmeier’s; Pentax XW10, XW5, Unitron 40mm Kellner, Meade Or 25,12
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#10

Post by turboscrew »

I can't hold my 10x50 binoculars steady enough in my hands. I need a tripod.
Also, like I've mentioned before, I don't think EQ-mount is that bad, but collimation of a reflector can be too much - so rather refractor. And rather eyepieces that do not "kidney-bean" easily.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#11

Post by Richard »

Giving this thread a bit more thought and as money is not that important instead of a refractor a Mac will be better it is more compact and great for the planets and moon and this is what young kids want to see , one needs a very long refractor to do the same and they need a good mount , a small Mac will be fine on a cheaper mount and give better views of the major planets
When young children come to our home we use the C5 SCT on a SLT mount as the other scopes dont drop low enough and using a small step is no good
The SLT is a relatively cheap go to mount but works well with small mac or a SCT , and for kids its great to keep the target in view for some time , when we used the bigger scopes by the time they get used to it the object is gone , but with time they learn quick my neighbor 8 year old comes around and uses my manual EQ5 mount with a 150 mac on like a pro (once I move it for him to the correct place)
Reflectors GSO 200 Dobs , Sky-watcher 10 inch Dobs
Refractors Tasco 10TE-5
SCT C5 on a SLT mount
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#12

Post by pakarinen »

Strongly suggest a manual alt-az mount - could even be a pan head on a photo tripod. Save the electronic sorcery for later. Just make sure the mount is steady. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to aim / focus a scope on a wobbly mount.

I prefer small, short tube achromatic refractors to any kind of reflector, but I do have a 90mm Maksutov for high power moon watching. It does take a little while for the Mak to cool down, depending on indoor vs. outdoor temperature. My refractors are ready to go as soon as I carry them out the door, but they're not that good for planet viewing.

As probably mentioned, you get what you pay for. Cheap optics are usually not good optics, but there are many reasonably priced scopes that give very acceptable performance.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#13

Post by Jnicholes »

First, Welcome to the Forum!

Second, I kind of agree with everyone here. A manual refractor is the way to go for beginners.

I started out with a very simple manual reflector, and it evolved from there.

This is what I started out with.



Now, I have to admit, it was great for looking at planets. You could see the rings of Saturn easily, you could make out Mars, you could even make out the moons of Jupiter. Other than that, it wasn’t that good for many faint deep space objects, like nebula and galaxies. It had some problems with bright objects, like the Andromeda galaxy and the Orion nebula, but it was still a good telescope for beginners. The manual controls for the telescope were easy, and aligning the telescopes finder scope was easy also. It was also easy to get things into focus.

It was also fun looking for things in the sky the old-fashioned way without a computer.

I’m not trying to advertise anything, just so you know.

If you want my honest opinion, I would get a refractor with at least 80 mm of aperture. Not a reflector. I have an 80 mm Refractor myself, and I can see a lot with it.

I hope this helps, and good luck.

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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#14

Post by Makuser »

Hi bmeeder and all. I agree with the above recommendations. I started in 1966 with a 3" alt-az reflector but I was not a child. I got back into astronomy again in 1974 with a 60mm refractor on alt-az mount. Of course later I started buying larger instruments with equatorial mounts. With a moderate sized refractor on an adjustable height tripod, the eyepiece will always be accessible to your grandson. I also recommend a sky atlas and/or planisphere to locate objects in the sky. Then later, after you learn the skies, and more about telescopes and optics, you can always upgrade to a larger and more sophisticated instrument. This is a normal and common growth cycle on any hobby endeavor. I hope this helps and the best of wishes on your future telescope purchase to you bmeeder, your son, and also your grandson. On any clear night there is always a great show above.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#15

Post by notFritzArgelander »

OzEclipse wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:58 am
notFritzArgelander wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:02 am Agreed. Small altaz refractor first. More complicated later, Perhaps binoculars?
This advice ok for adults and older children. They probably need something that dad can pre-point for the 6yo child. Young kids can't hold binoculars very steady and can't find things. Refractor on altaz probably better.
Right about that..... slipped my mind we were talking about a 6 yo.
Scopes: Refs: Orion ST80, SV 80EDA f7, TS 102ED f11 Newts: Z12 f5; Cats: VMC110L, Intes MK66,VMC200L f9.75 EPs: KK Fujiyama Orthoscopics, 2x Vixen NPLs (40-6mm) and BCOs, Baader Mark IV zooms, TV Panoptics, Delos, Plossl 32-8mm. Mixed brand Masuyama/Astroplans Binoculars: Nikon Aculon 10x50, Celestron 15x70, Baader Maxbright. Mounts: Star Seeker III, Vixen Porta II, Celestron CG5, Orion Sirius EQG
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#16

Post by JayTee »

One other thing to consider: a young child looking through the eyepiece of a telescope will not necessarily see what the telescope is presenting to them. They don't know how to move their head around to look on-axis nor do they know that if you look off-axis you won't see anything. So starting with the Moon is by far the best way to go. It's big, it's bright and you can tell if they're looking at the Moon by the illuminated disc that's surrounding their eyeball. Try this yourself, when you look through the eyepiece move off-axis, move your head so that you're looking through the eyepiece at an angle and you will see that the image goes away.

Hope this helps
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

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Post by Baurice »

notFritzArgelander wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:02 am Agreed. Small altaz refractor first. More complicated later, Perhaps binoculars?
What I was going to say. I will add a camera tripod and adaptor so that dad can find something then show it to his son.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#18

Post by Bigzmey »

Baurice wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 10:58 pm
notFritzArgelander wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:02 am Agreed. Small altaz refractor first. More complicated later, Perhaps binoculars?
What I was going to say. I will add a camera tripod and adaptor so that dad can find something then show it to his son.
Or phone adapter.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; iOptron: Hankmeister 150mm Mak F12; SW: 180mm Mak F15; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; iOptron: AZMP; ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; UA: MicroStar; Farpoint: UBM.
Binos: Celestron (Vixen) Giant 20x80; Orion: Binoviewers, Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & 2xXFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68, 62; Vixen: 2xSLVs; Baader: 2xBCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV, Meade: Plossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: 2" prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S, 6-color set; Astronomik: UHC.
Observing: DSOs: 2407 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1907, S110: 77). Doubles: 1534, Comets: 21, Asteroids: 106
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#19

Post by Baurice »

Bigzmey wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 11:03 pm
Baurice wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 10:58 pm
notFritzArgelander wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 6:02 am Agreed. Small altaz refractor first. More complicated later, Perhaps binoculars?
What I was going to say. I will add a camera tripod and adaptor so that dad can find something then show it to his son.
Or phone adapter.
Yes, that could work, too.
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Re: First telescope recommendation for 6 year old + Dad

#20

Post by Refractordude »

Telescopes: Celestron 150mm f/8 Refractor, Meade LX70 120mm f/8 Refractor, Vixen 70mm f/12.9 Refractor, Orion ST80, Tasco 49N 50mm Red Refractor
Binoculars: Orion GiantView ED 16x80, Zhumell Giant 20x80, Oberwerk LW 11x70, Levenhuk Sherman 7x50
Mounts: Orion SkyView Pro Equatorial, Orion Versago II Altazimuth, Farpoint Universal Parrallelogram Mount, Orion Paragon-Plus Parrallelogram Mount, Orion Tritech II Fluid Head Tripod
Finders: GSO 8x50 Raci, Svbony Red Dot
Diagonals: GSO Dielectric 2", GSO Dielectric 1.25"
Eyepieces: Starguider Dual ED 12mm/15mm/18mm, Long Perng LER 5mm/6mm/9mm, BST UWA 4mm/7mm, AgenaAstro 8mm-24mm Zoom, Meade 56mm Plossl, GSO Superview 30mm, Astromania-Olivon 22mm, Celestron Ultima Edge 30mm, GSO Plossls 32mm/25mm/20mm, GSO 20mm Superview, Svbony 20mm/15mm/9mm/6mm, Svbony Aspheric 23mm/10mm/4mm, Agena Super Wide Angle 15mm, GSO 2" 2x ED Barlow Lens, Few No Name Brand Ebay Plossls
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