Telescope experiences to help with a first purchase

One other point for the OP… Im sure you have heard it before, but it cant be over-stressed. Under no circumstances should you or your children look at the Sun through the telescope, should you decide to buy one. If you have ever concentrated a beam of sunlight through a magnifying glass onto a piece of paper you will know why. Also avoid Solar filters intended for direct viewing. They can splinter under the intense heat.

The safest way to view the sun is by projection onto a piece of paper or card positioned several inches from the eyepeice


Thanks for all the feedback on this, I carried on pondering and doing the usual research and we finally went for a Meade Polaris 130eq, should arrive in a few days and be wrapped ready for them to open in a few weeks.

Happy days, cheers guys


The stick figure drawings can be helpful I find in drawing imaginary lines. Looking for the Andromeda nebula from Cassiopeia for example. I can’t always see this from my back garden, so knowing where is is supposed to be is handy. The Pleiades and Pegasus are also handy reference points. Star hopping is an essential tool for those without go-to!

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Thanks Alan. I’m no physicist. I simply intended to suggest to the OP that a magnified view of the stars won’t resolve a disk. (It simply means the scope is out of focus). Bright stars always have diffraction spikes and fainter stars appear as pale dots in my modest equipment. In my experience a dark sky location is a real revelation, especially in looking at deep sky objects. The planets do resolve as disks and in the case of Jupiter four moons can be seen. I think this is still interesting even if the image of Jupiter appears about the size of a pea. I’m interested in the aesthetics and practicality of looking at the stars, so I’m grateful for your educational correction.

Stokie, please accept my apologies if my post caused offence. It wasn’t intended as a correction but as a point of interest (ie: that when you focus your telescope on a star what you are actually seeing is a diffraction disk and not a point of light. Further, this diffraction disk is what ultimately defines the resolving power of the scope).
To be sure, there are many reasons why you might not see a true disc with rings - not least atmospheric conditions.

I take no issue with anything you have said in your earlier and recent posts.

I am, myself, no physicist - I merely have an interest in the subject. My own scope is also modest (4” Newtonian Reflector).

Enjoy your hobby. It is a truly magnificent experience to view the heavens with, even, modest equipment.

Alan, no apologies necessary and no offence taken. I hope we have dark skies to enjoy our scopes.

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I recommend binoculars. Telescopes are too technical for young children, and you have to pay a decent amount before you get one good enough to be worthwhile. With he binoculars, get a good balance between weight (they’ve got to be able to hold them steady for a while) and the size of the front lenses (the bigger the better). They can also enjoy using them on days out! A good camera / optics shop ought to advise you well.

I still don’t ‘get’ them - the star patterns don’t look anything like the imaginary names, and just don’t stir my imagination or ability to remember them, either as a child, or now…

Some are a lot bigger or fainter than expected. Some I don’t see at all either. Gemini as twins for example. The ancients would have had really dark skies and no optical aids. The Stellarium program is a kind of planetarium, you can show the stick figures and turn them off. I suspect in oral cultures many people develop spatial memory and imagination in ways we don’t have to. Viking navigators, who had their own constellations, must have been really skilled.

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