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Telescope recommendations

fendrockfendrock Posts: 2,852Registered User Senior Member
edited June 2011 in Parent Cafe
My d, who is thinking of majoring in astrophysics, has requested a telescope for her high school graduation present.

Does anyone have recommendations?

I don't know anything about it, but I would like it to be relatively easy to transport (since we live in a heavily wooded area, she couldn't star gaze very well from here) and of course provide the best magnification for dollars spent.

Budget is within the range of $500 - $1000.
Post edited by fendrock on

Replies to: Telescope recommendations

  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Posts: 16,789Registered User Senior Member
    fendrock, I guess no one here owns a telescope, because CC parents either (i) live in Seattle (cloud cover 90% of the time) or (ii) are not interested in astronomy... :) Just kidding. But I do fall into the first category. Instead of a telescope, we own a gizmo called Sky Scout. You point it to a celestial object, and it tells you what you are looking at. Pretty cool, but it is not a telescope (although it can plugged into some telescopes by Celestron).

    As far as telecopes go, take a look at B&H reviews of telescopes. That website is pretty informative.
  • garlandgarland Posts: 12,673Registered User Senior Member
    We do have a telescope. our family is full of amateur astronomers. It's a Meade Meade Instruments - Telescopes, Solar Telescopes, Telescope Accessories, Telescopes by Meade, an LX-200, but it's about 15 years old, and I know we didn't pay the kind of price on that website--even accounting for inflation (I'm guessing around 2000 dollars). It was still outside the budget you set, and heavy too, so I won't recommend it, but I do think that Meade makes fantastic scopes, so they are worth checking out. I'm away from home, but when I talk to my H, I'll see if he has any advice for what's best given your parameters.

    I love it when we get it out--when we got it, we lived solely in North Jersey, near NYC, and light pollution plus trees equaled viewing issues--but despite that, it's been an enormous pleasure--galaxies, nebulae, star clusters! And Saturn--I never get over seeing Saturn--it's so Saturn-y! Now we keep it in a rural area in S. Jersey--where we have real night skies, which has really improved viewing.

    If I get more info, I'll send it on (I'm not the techie in the family--I just enjoy the fruits of it!)
  • fendrockfendrock Posts: 2,852Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks for your responses -- this is the telescope my husband is considering -- what do you think?

    Meade Instruments Corporation - 10" LightBridge (f/5) Truss-Tube Dobsonian
  • garlandgarland Posts: 12,673Registered User Senior Member
    Well, like I said, we love our Meade. I know my H is a fan of Dobsonians, though it's not what we have. I'll check this with him when we speak. Another thing to take into account is eyepieces--again, I'm not the expert, but I know we have several that we(he) use for different viewing reasons.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Posts: 8,573Registered User Senior Member
    As you've discovered, decent telescopes are very expensive.

    I have a 6" Celestron reflector I bought years ago at a pawn shop for $50-100 although I've purchased a couple of additional eyepieces for it (which magnify the light collected by the scope). It's fine for seeing quite a bit of stuff including the rings of Saturn, 4 moons of Jupiter, etc. We often have excellent viewing conditions where I live but truthfully, I rarely use it. I recently considered getting another telescope, probably a several thousand $$ Meade or Celestron with a powered tracking mount but after thinking about it more, I decided I wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost.

    It's all in the usage. I had a colleague who was very into it and had tens of thousands of dollars worth of scopes, bought a pickup truck to be able to carry them (one was very large), and made frequent trips to the desert east of here, where the viewing is outstanding, and sometimes to the top of nearby Palomar mountain, home of the 200" Hale telescope (formerly the world's largest). He and his W used them enough to justify the cost in their minds (plus they had no kids to consume their dollars for college).

    I wouldn't go overboard for the first scope since you have no idea how much she'd use it, astrophysics major or not. How much she'd be able to use it is influenced by the sky conditions where you live as some other posters said. A used scope is, IMO, just as good as a new one as long as it hasn't been abused and knocked out of alignment. There are likely others who've spent the money, realized they don't really use it like they thought they would, and are selling them. Yet others who are really into it may be trading up and have some scopes for sale. Telescope retail stores may also have some used ones for sale.

    If there's a telescope retail store in your area (not a big box that happens to sell one or two models of scopes), you should probably pay them a visit, explain your usage and budget, and see what they recommend.

    Some people start with a good set of binoculars rather than a telescope - something to consider.

    With telescopes, the sky's the limit. (so to speak ;) )

    Edit - I just read that Meade moved its manufacturing out of the USA to Mexico. Apparently Celestron still manufactures in the USA. If you care about such things, you might want to consider Celestron over Meade because of that.
  • minimini Posts: 26,431Registered User Senior Member
    My wife and d. (when age 9) built an 8" inch Dobsonian (grinding the mirror took three months).

    And ditto on the recommendation of good binoculars.

    Light gathering, rather than magnification, is the key.
  • QuantMechQuantMech Posts: 5,679Registered User Senior Member
    I think a Dobsonian is a great idea. A good telescope is something that your daughter can use for a long time, even if there are intervals when she may not have much time for amateur astronomy, or good seeing conditions. If your daughter does wind up in astrophysics, and she is using an 8-meter telescope, a ground array, or something space-based for her research, I think she will still enjoy using her "personal" telescope.
  • garlandgarland Posts: 12,673Registered User Senior Member
    FEndrock--my apologies--didn't get to this when I spoke to H last night (dealing with an extended family issue). It looks like you have good advice here, but if I do get anyt hing else, I'll write.
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