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Thread: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

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    Default Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.



    I write this in the hope that well meaning parents might stop and think before stepping into the unknown.

    Mum had phoned the observatory during the week. Could we help with the telescope that she had bought for the kids, it didn't seem to work?

    Duly, mum and dad turned up tonight with two bright boys about 8 or 9 years of age and a couple of their mates. The scope turned out to be a reflector with a 76mm primary and a focal length of 700mm. Purchased from a supermarket for 69 euros it was quite possibly the worst scope I've ever encountered.

    The carton that the scope came in was great! Lovely pictures of solar system objects and some swirling galaxies.

    Almost completely made of plastic and very light alloys this contraption seemed to have been manufactured with the specific intention of putting young aspiring astronomers off the subject for good. So proud of this product, the manufacturer even omitted to put his name to it. The drinking straw that purported to be a 6mm eyepiece, with eye relief of approximately 1mm was immediately discarded as unusable. We inserted the 20mm, carefully in the drawtube. It was made of metal soft enough to be easily distorted by finger pressure. The draw tube slopped about with at least a couple of millimeters to spare in the focuser.
    The finderscope was odd. It appeared to be almost zero magnification. We did manage to get Jupiter into view after several minutes of guesswork, but by this time the kids had wandered off to have a look through proper telescopes.
    They had been looking at M51, M13 and Saturn through proper optics.

    Can you imagine their reaction when they came back to view a fuzzy blob in their new telescope? They were very disappointed. Mum and dad didn't need us to tell them they had wasted their money.

    So, mums and dads, go to an astro club for advice BEFORE you buy anything. That 69 euros scope will never be used again and worse the kids enthusiasm for this wonderful hobby has been damaged, maybe for good.

    Alec.
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    A great cautionary tale Alec and a sad one too.
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    so true alec.
    a friend of mine offered me a scope that he had brought for his grandson as he had "lost all interest".
    i duly accepted the offer.
    when he turned up with it i could see why:a 60mm refractor of the same grade you mention.
    even the main optics were plastic!!
    i duly explained the reasons why his grandson would have lost interest.
    his reply:"i was told i was buying a good telescope by the shop".
    at that time,i still had the 130 aswell as my dob,so i duly invited him to look at them.
    the look on his face was a picture when he saw them!and when i told him what a used 130
    s/w would cost,that shocked him even more.
    with my help,his grandson now owns one of these:
    Sky-Watcher Skymax-102 SynScan AZ GOTO Maksutov Cassegrain telescope.
    he absolutely loves it.
    i hope people will take your advise buddy!!
    clear skies,

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    andy

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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    The trouble with a lot of adults is that they don't seem to like to admit that they don't know anything about scopes or anything to do with astronomy. If only they could find their local society and make enquiries it would make life a lot easier for themselves and possibly save some money. Societies are always willing to help.
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    Alec, this tale of woe should be yelled from the rooftops and our PC justice system should bring back public floggings (hangings would be a little extreme) in the town-square to discourage manufacturers and vendors from doing more of the same.

    The intent is undoubtedly to deceive as is evidenced by the impressive graphics on the packaging.

    You were also place into a very awkward situation but handled it well by merely providing the means by which Mom and Dad came to their own realization. It would not have been much fun for you to have had to spell it out for them.

    I, for one, will now publicize this warning to every parent who ever brings their kids to view through my scope...and I'm getting busier with these "one-man, one-scope" neighbourhood star-parties as we transit into the warmer summer months. I'm going to stick it the merchandisers of junk telescopes as much as I can.

    Are you able to provide us with a link to a website that details the observatory with which you are involved? I seem to recall that this is the second or third time that you've mentioned being associated with the same.
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    Fortunately not all department store scopes are this horrible. The first scope I got was from a store. Of course I at least had enough sense to buy a name brand scope, my Celestron Astromaster 76eq which I still own today. It was my cheap way of getting into the hobby. Now I own 3 scopes. All made by Celestron. It just goes to show you that as long as you do at least SOME research then you won't get totally upset.

    Clear Skies,
    Joseph

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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper-Feet View Post
    Are you able to provide us with a link to a website that details the observatory with which you are involved? I seem to recall that this is the second or third time that you've mentioned being associated with the same.
    Hi Richard,

    Here is the link to our observatory's website. I tell everyone that I'm the president of the English speaking section. Trouble is, there is only one of us.

    Observatoire GAP-47

    Alec.
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    Quote Originally Posted by jvellucci View Post
    Fortunately not all department store scopes are this horrible.
    Exactly, they are not all bad. My Venture RX-7 of $100 at Big 5 is good value. I enjoy it for visual grab and go and it can be used for (rather modest, but still..) AP too if you put it on an EQ platform.
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    Yes it's amazing the false advertising these companies can get away with on the packaging. I don't like to admit, but I got a box store telescope when I was a kid. It was such a piece of junk I couldn't really see anything with it and learned nothing. It turned me off of the whole amateur astronomy thing until now 25-30 years later I thought maybe give this hobby anther try as technology may have improved. Wow has it ever, and I bought a REAL telescope now, but I still see the same JUNKY telescopes like I had in stores. I can't help but wonder how many kids are these going to turn off like they did me. It's a shame because as I'm finding out, I have missed out of a lot of time and opportunity over the years due to my bad experience. One thing you can't buy at any price is time.

    Granted there was no internet etc, so I don't blame it entirely on the scope, but it sure made it easy to walk away & get interested in other things. Anyway to round out the story I am embarrased to admit having that telescope because I consider myself a total beginner at 40 years old, and if people knew I had a scope when I was a kid they would expect me to know more that I do. LOL
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    Default Re: Mums and Dads - a warning about cheap telescopes.

    Hello Alec and all. When somebody locally asks me for advice on a new scope, I feel honored that they would ask me. The second emotion is that of terror. I do not know what they want to do, or how much (or little) they want to spend. So this is what I do:
    1: I explain that the scopes that I have didn't just happen overnight. This is a lifetime's dream for me.
    2: I explain all of the different types of telescopes, and their inherent strengths and weaknesses.
    3: I remind them that no one scope does everything perfectly
    4: I direct them to the forum here, to see the wonderful reviews and comments from our veterans and experts.
    5: I advise them to get a name brand, and largest aperture that they feel comfortable with. I tell them that if you cannot see things, you may just give up on a what could have otherwise been a fascinating hobby. On the other hand, if you buy a quality instrument, but finally decide that astronomy is not for you, then you at least have a telescope with a good resale value. I have seen those cheap department store telescopes at auctions and yard sales, and they usually go for around $15 USD. I hope this helps a little, and best of regards.
    - Marshall

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