Best telescope for kids?

My son is 8 years old and really wants a telescope. We're thinking of buying him one for Christmas, but we have no idea where to begin. He is a pretty smart kid, very tech savvy. He talks about wanting to see the moon, stars, and possibly other planets; is this even possible? Like I said, I have no clue how to pick out a good one. Any help is greatly appreciated. Oh, and we are willing to spend anywhere from $75 to $150.

Update:

We live in a small town with a population of 10,000, we're pretty much out in the country even within city limits. The beach is just down the road, so we will definitely carry it down there a few times, so thanks for making me aware of it fitting in our vehicle.

9 Answers

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  • B.
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I would like to suggest that you join a local astronomy club or astronomical society BEFORE you spend your money on a scope. There are many different kinds of scopes and what is perfect for one person is not perfect for another. Everyone has their own set of eyeballs and no two are the same. If you join a club, you can attend a few of their star parties and try out members scopes to see what works best for YOU, before you buy a scope. The members can also help you when you get your scope and show you how to get the most out of your new scope as well as to help teach you where the treasures in the sky are located. Most clubs have loaner scopes and extensive libraries that you can gather more information from too. Most clubs will have monthly membership meetings with informative presentations given by members and by guest speakers. You can really learn a lot from these clubs and an added plus is all the great new friends you make there too. Go to this site to find a club in your area. http://www.astroleague.org/societies/list

    This only has clubs that belong to the National Astronomy League, so there are many more which do not appear on this list. Continue searching google if you don't see one in your area here.

    There are several different kinds of telescopes and all of them have some excellent features. Refractors and Reflectors, plus Schmidt-Cassegrain, APO refractors, Mac-Cass, and many more. There are also several mounts to chose from and the mounts are just as important, if not even more important, than the scope is. All of the different scopes and mounts have some features that some people like and do not like. No two eyeballs are the same and the perfect scope for one person might be completely wrong for another person.

    There is no one scope that is "better" than another ---except for the junk scopes out there which are all just a waste of money. Never, ever buy from Walmart, Costco, Target, or any other discount store like that. Junk scopes are flooded into the market from those stores. You will be buying nothing but bad optics and plastic.

    If you are new at this, then stay away from anything used from any site. If you don't know what you are buying and who you are buying from you will most likely be getting someone else's headache---with no warranty either. Some great deals on used equipment are out there, by people who know how to use and take care of scopes, but if you don't know what you are doing, you might be spending a lot of money on worthless junk. One improper cleaning can destroy a scope. Buyer Beware.

    I recommend: http://oriontelescopes.com/

    Orion is the very best for value and for customer service too. I have 3 of their scopes and I will only buy from them from now on. My first scope was a manual controlled scope and I am very glad that it was because it forced me to learn where things are in the night skies. Go-To type scopes can be frustrating to use. If you do not have them aligned exactly perfect, they do not find the targets. If you are a beginner, you will be frustrated unless you spring for a GPS Go-To. An object locator is just that---it will locate objects for you (must be aligned first) but an object locator is not a tracking motor. It will not keep the scope on the target.

    The Orion site has some excellent diagrams and explanations of all types of scopes and mounts.

    Things to consider are size--can the user lift and transport the scope to the viewing site easily? Does it fit in your car? If not, then it will gather dust in a closet. I recommend a carrying case too so it is protected in storage and transport. Can the viewer reach all the knobs and buttons? I have a long tube large manual refractor and it is very difficult for me to reach the knobs when I am pointed to Zenith. I am not a tall person.

    Take your time in making your decision.

    Some people will suggest that you purchase binoculars. Not a bad idea but don't buy anything less than 10x50 and you must have a tripod too or you will not be happy with your astronomical views because they will be too shaky from your movements. Even your pulse will make them shake. Personally, I prefer a scope to binos because if binoculars are not aligned properly at the factory, then you get double images and distortions that can't be fixed. Most of the cheaper binoculars are not properly aligned. That is not as important for terrestial viewing, but it is a killer for astronomical viewing. Binos can also be bumped out of alignment and become useless for astronomy.

    When you buy, go Orion and you wont be disappointed. Don't try to learn everything all at once or you will be overwhelmed and discouraged. Patience is the key to Astronomy.

    You will need a good star chart program too.

    http://www.stellarium.org/

    This is great freeware that you can download. Tell it where you are and it will tell you what you see. Ask it where something is and it will show you.

    I wish you all the best! Enjoy!

  • karcz
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Best Telescope For Kids

  • salmam
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Walmart Telescope

  • 1 decade ago

    Lucky kid. Of the two options linked above, I would favor the Starblast. It's a pretty decent little scope, and he will certainly be able to see the moon and planets with it quite nicely. He will also be able to see several nice star clusters, a few nebulae, and a couple of galaxies. Don't make the common mistake of spending too little. As usual, you get what you pay for.

    I would highly recommend that you also buy the book "Nightwatch" by T. Dickinson. It has some really user friendly charts that will help him to actually know where to point it once he gets it.

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  • 5 years ago

    Best Kids Telescope

  • 1 decade ago

    I suggest you up your budget by another $100 dollars or you will just be getting a junk telescope.The one in the link below is about the cheapest buy and still get a quality instrument.

    http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~category...

    If you cannot afford this you should get him a membership in local astronomy club.

    Wally

  • PAULH
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    This Celestron Firstscope reflector for around $40. Sky and telescope magazine just gave it a thumbs up review in their latest issue.

    http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=12821

  • 1 decade ago

    if you live in the city and don't plan to take him out nights to the dark skies, save your money and get a pair of decent binoculars..... if you can't see the Milky Way where you live because of light pollution, he'll only get to see alittle Moon, Venus in crescent and some blurry stuff.... buy him books... get him a pass to the planetarium.... wait to see if this is a passing phase or not....

  • 1 decade ago

    http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?pid=1545-12373

    I had the same,and it was a great first-telescope

    you can see the moon's craters with this one,easely

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