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Thread: Greetings and a request for advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    Greetings and a request for advice

    Hi everyone! I come here having listened to most of the AstronomyCast episodes (especially at the beginning) and having a new appreciation for all of you guys (and of course Pamela and the good psychologist Fraser [I still think his name is funny]).

    Okay, my father is approaching retirement age and I would like to give a nice telescope as a gift for him to pass the time and to relieve stress until he is able to retire! He does not own binoculars or a telescope, but does know how to identify constellations, major stars, and planets. I was hoping to spend less than 2000, and the less "high-tech" it is the better (he somehow got my ipad stuck in an infinite reboot loop while he was "trying it out"). That said, it seems like to see a lot of the smaller objects, you need some sort of computer attached to the telescope (?). He is a scientist, so being able to "discover new asteroids" or to be able to "point his telescope" at some new NEO I think would really excite him (even if it requires him to be meticulous). So given these requirements, am I better off just getting a Orion Dobsonian telescope or splurging a bit more for the Celestron computerized telescopes (or something else)? Are either of these two powerful enough to see enough detail, or am I looking at much more money?

    Also, are "Nightwatch" by Terence Dickinson and "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide" by Dyer good two books to get for him?

    Thank you so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Splurge! He's your Dad!

    Sorry, got carried away. Welcome to BAUT, young24601!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    You can buy a lot of scope for $2000. As you probably noticed, the most aperture for the money is in the Dob. But make sure you can check one out in person. A 10 in Dob does require some minimum amount of strength to get it out and set up.

    I recommend putting some of the money in good eyepieces with long eye relief. It's nice not to have to cram your eye right up against the eyepiece.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    WA state, USA - Seattle area
    A manual Dob might appeal to Dad's meticulous nature, as it sometimes takes a bit of patience to find the object you're looking for. The payoff--for me at least--is the thrill of finding it myself as well as the knowledge of the sky you gain as opposed to just entering the object in a computer and watch the scope traverse. Personally, IMO an 8" dob is about the best beginner scope out there. Different strokes...although a dob should appeal to 'the less high tech, the better' it's tough to find a scope less high tech than a dob.

    Nick's advice about eyepeices is good -- I personally have a hard time with standard plossl eyepieces below about 15mm because you practically have to cram your eyeball against the lens to see the entire field. Long eye relief eyepieces solve that problem.

    Before you buy anything though, do the following:

    1) READ THIS:

    2) Search this forum, lots of 'what scope should I get' threads here

    3) Definitely consider attending a star party with Dad, figure out from the variety of scopes what will work best for him. Only way to do that is to try them out in the field, not in a store.

    4) Definitely consider joining a club.

    5) Definitely consider a decent pair of 10X50 binocs. I would recommend 7X50's, but no doubt Dad's exit pupil isn't what it used to be...Binocs are a valuable tool to supplement a telescope, and it's possible to have a very satisfying astronomy hobby just with binocs. I have 4 pairs...and in summer I'll sometimes leave the scope at home when I'm observing, I'll just take my binocs and enjoy scanning the summer Milky Way.

    And the books you mention are great starting points as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Thank you very much for your tips. Time to do some more research!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Start with attending a few star parties by local clubs. Those who don't rarely by the right scope the first time out. Until you have actually used and assembled one in the dark while fighting mosquitoes in winter and fumble fingers in gloves in winter you really don't know the issues involved to make an intelligent decision. At star parties you will be able to do all this and more. We are a very generous bunch in this respect.


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