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Glad I found this forum. I've been browsing for a few days and finally registered. I have two sons, one in grade school, one in middle school. We've been to the Adler Planetarium several times and love watching programs about science / space / exploration. It's time to purchase our first telescope. I joined this forum looking for a local astronomy club and advice on a scope in the $500 - $700 range. Hoping I can get something decent that is (relatively) simple and fun to use, and has enough "wow" factor to keep the kids interested. These computer-age "everything is just a mouse-click or tap away" boys are hard to impress!
Have been looking at Celestron and Orion and leaning toward something like this.
Feel free to PM me if you've got any ideas or advice. Thanks!
I don't know what groups are out towards Sugar Grove, but you are not too far from Saint Charles. There will be an astronomy night on March 3rd at the Hickory Knolls Discovery center. I would definitely recommend making the trip with your boys and checking it out. That may help you decide if they are interested enough before you spend the money. It may also give you a better idea what some of the scope choices are like in the flesh.
The SkyProdigy looks like an interesting idea, but I haven't heard of it before, so I don't know how well it performs in real life. I did kind of shake my head while watching the product tour video because the referred to it as a "Newtonian Design" when it was a Maksutov in that video. It looks like it comes with a few choices for the actual scope.
I can't help wondering how well it performs with such a small lens on the alignment camera.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Feb 19, 2012 20:02:58 GMT -6
Hi Star baby and Welcome to the Chicago Astronomer.
You'll find that urban astronomy will be a rewarding experience - exploring the Universe and regardless on your equipment - despite the light pollution we all punch through.
Let's look at that 90mm Mak you linked to...
General Features Fully Automatic Alignment Procedure Fully Computerized Altazimuth Mount Quick-Release Fork Arm Mount and Optical Tube for Easy, Quick No Tool Set Up Sturdy Stainless Steel Tripod and Accessory Tray CD-ROM The SkyX First Light Edition Astronomy Software Which Provides Education About the Sky Battery Pack Providing over 30 Hours of Power Computerized Mount Features Proven Computer Control Technology Database Allows Telescope to Automatically Locate Over 4,000 Celestial Objects Proprietary StarSense Technology Provides a Completely Automatic Alignment Process with No User Intervention Required Flash Upgradeable Hand Control Software for Downloading Product Updates Over the Internet
It's a nice instrument, but I would not recommend it for your primary and first scope. At only 90mm, the light gathering abilities of the scope is limited and not able to grasp dim objects, nor push high magnification. It's a great second/grab-&-go scope, but you'll need something more substantial for that "wow" factor you are looking for.
I feel that the Prodigy feature is a gimmick for such a small aperture of 90mm. Could be useful in a larger telescope.
I always recommend a Dob for beginners. One of at least 6 or 8 inches in aperture - to really bring in those faint fuzzies and provide modest magnification power. Dobs are all manual and no motor drives to help you guide, but - with a built-in digital setting circle computer or a smartphone with astronomical apps loaded on it, you can successfully "push-to" your desired objects. And... it will help you learn the skies, instead of having the scope find things for you.
You are welcome to join us at our Chicago Astronomer star parties and observation sessions - just monitor the forum.
Thanks Chicago Astronomer Joe. That's very helpful. Do you have any recommendations on brand within my price range? If you want to PM me any "hey this one looks good (link)" ideas, that's fine. Appreciate the help and feedback.
I agree with our fearless leader. Last fall, I wrote up a post about just this type of situation. This dob is light, super portable, and cheap! sakistore.blogspot.com/2011/09/astro nomy-setup-for-beginners.html
Check it out. And I would definitely recommend making it out to a star party soon to check out/compare scopes and ask 1000 questions. p
I agree with Patrick and Joe. Go with the Dob. Anything above a 10" solid tube dob is cumbersome and heavy. If you have an suv and room to store when not in use I would suggest a 10". if not an 8" is just fine.
I'm in South Elgin and out on most clear nights in front of my driveway. You are always welcome to come by and brave the cold or mosquitos with me. I just dumped my 10"Dob to another CA member, but I do have an 8" SCT and smaller 70mm refractor you can try out.