Looking for a beginner telescope

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 07:55 PM GMT

Question

Can you tell me where I could buy an inexpensive telescope in the Erie area? I bought one for my daughter for Christmas at Kohl's but we could not get it to work , so I returned it. Now I cannot find any other ones, and am not sure where to look. The one we had was a Celestron Powerseeker that was on sale for $70.00. My daughter is an adult who wants to be able to learn about the stars, but we do not have any experience with telescopes. I am leery of getting one from online, because if we cannot get it to work, we would have shipping expenses. We would be open to a good condition used one also!

Answer

Hi Colleen, Sorry but this is one of the few activities that requires you to purchase a telescope by mail order (I don't know how it evolved that way, but it did)...from a reputible source. Today we recommend starter scopes of 6 or 8 inches, Dobsonian mounted Newtonian Reflectors, from Orion or Discovery...for about $400-600. Any less then that is generally of poor quality and a waste of money. There is no such thing as a "good" inexpensive starter scope in our hobby. In fact, you either go 'first class' or not at all. We always say to avoid the Dept. store local scopes, as most do not work, and you're just throwing your money away.

Tell your daughter that equipment (except for binoculars) comes last in our hobby, not first. Knowledge comes first. Take a year and learn your night sky first... if you can't point your finger to the Andromeda Galaxy, the Lagoon Nebula, Saturn, the pretty double Albireo,... all naked eye objects, how are you going to point a small viewing scope toward them?? You can't. So you learn your night sky FIRST,not last. Make your first scope an inexpensive pair of 10 x 50 binoculars. A good telescope will improve on binoculars as much as bino's improve your naked eye... so you get halfway for a fraction of the cost, while you learn your night sky. Suggest you go to our astronomy club webpage and read "Tom Whiting's Sound Advice for the Novice" at http://www.velocity.net/~bwhiting

And as another option, I am also in Erie, my number is on that website, and I'm even in the Erie Phone book, (and retired USAF so free most of the time) so feel free to give me a call and we can discuss your astronomy needs over the phone. If your daugher is local, she should join our astronomy club, if not, she should first join a club in her region. That's another important step in our great hobby. Clear Skies, Tom Whiting Erie, PA

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