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Any budding astronomers?

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Any budding astronomers?

SWMBO has got a sudden interest in the stars, planets, solar system and beyond.
I thought I'd buy her a cheap telescope to help her look/search but have no idea what's best and suitable for a beginner.
Would something like this be any good as a starting point?
Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Not really Mav. That one is more of a terrestrial target spotting scope.
Look for something described as "astronomical" which apart from anything else present an inverted view, but that is not important when viewing stars, planets etc.
The type of mounting is next in importance. These fall into two groups Alt azimuth and Equatorial, the latter when set up correctly are easier to use as they will follow a star in relation to the rotation of the Earth. The former need a lot of constant alterations in two axis. The first thing beginners notice with a telescope is the speed that objects seem to move across the field of view. Both types of mount have their devotee, alt azimuth tend to be cheaper.
Once bitten by the bug there are many many refinements to telescopes, including auto star finders, and motor drives and many more
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Thanks for the very informative answer, Petlew.
SWMBO keeps rushing in to tell me about stars that move, lights that flicker and she takes her Galaxy Note out with some sort of app that gives more info on what she see's - apparently.
Two others Vanguard and F90076. They both mention astronomical but nothing regarding Alt Azimuth or Equitorial.
Me thinks a bit more research is needed.
But I really don't want to spend too much time or money at this stage in case it's just a passing fad Embarrassed

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RPMozley
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Binoculars are great as a simple starting point just to look at things. Only thing extra would be a tripod mount to make it stable.
There's plenty online about stargazing guides. You'd probably find some info over @ BBC Sky at night.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Just done a google on    " Astronomy for Beginners"..... there`s loads of links on there which should give you some info about the right equipment ...
could be worth a look see  Wink
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

@Mav, the two links you provided are a sample of both types of mount the Vanguard being the alt azimuth and can be seen as the much simpler of the two. If you can get the other one for 99p I'd go for it Shocked Shocked
They also show the two main types of telescope for astronomy; refracting (the Vanguard) and reflecting. The Vanguard uses an enclosed tube with a lens at both ends, the reflector has a convex mirror at the lower end that reflects light back to the right angled eyepiece assembly at the upper end of the open tube. For comfort the reflector wins hands down as you don't have to crouch down to get under it to the eyepiece, although right angled prisms are available to ease this but for small telescopes they are still pretty low down. However any additional lens etc. will absorb an amount of the incoming light  (hence the reason there is no extra lens to "right way up" the view in an astronomical telescope.
For even mildly serious amateur use the smallest refracting is thought to be 3inch diameter object glass (the front one) and 6inch diameter for the mirror of the reflector this relates to their light gathering power. anything smaller than these are really toys although there are plenty of them around.
When I first took it up in my early teens I got hold of an excellent book by Patrick Moore called "Naked Eye Astronomy" you may still be able to find second hand copies of it. Virtually anything by Moore (and he was prolific) is worth reading with the happy knack of making a complex subject completely understandable and readable.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

@mav: Have a look at Scope and skies
They have some good videos on their website wrt Astronomy equipment,
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

PS. As RPMozley says, binoculars are handy to start with, but are virtually impossible to hold still without support (tripod) of some kind. You should make sure any binoculars you choose can be tripod mounted, its usually only the larger (more expensive) ones that may be able to. few of the smaller types have fittings for it. Trying to strap a small pair to a camera tripod is almost doomed to failure.
In my experience, binoculars can be a challenge to set up for astronomy, few peoples eyes are identical so there is constant playing with the eyepiece adjustment on one side of the pair of eyepieces. And few binoculars have the focusing range (vitally important with the distances involved) that a telescope with its rack and pinion type focusing over several inches of movement has.
Personally I have an astigmatism in one eye which makes using binoculars generally quite difficult for me anyway. giving me slightly double vision in the effected eye without spectacle correction. If you wear specs you may find you can't compensate for them with binoculars very easily depending what exactly is "wrong" with your eyes.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

All of this is getting way ahead of ourselves.
Recommend getting a couple of comfortable garden loungers, a dark moonless night a good star and constellation chart, and begin to find your way round the skies just using your eyes. Just beginning to recognise the constellations can be very satisfying. Can be quite romantic as well...
Unfortunately, this best time of year for "stargazing" in the UK is during the winter months when there is far more to see, few can fail to be impressed with the grandeur of Orion on a clear cold night in January. The temperature can dampen the enthusiasm and the ardour somewhat  The summer months can be dull by comparison (for stargazing)
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

I did see recently advertised a stargazing ‘tent’, although cannot find the ad now.
It was like a clear plastic gazebo with each of the panels on zipped openings.
This coupled with an old dentist chair, with a telescope mount welded onto the chair could be ideal Roll eyes
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Uhmm! a double dentist chair, now wouldn't that make the mind boggle!!
One of the major obstacles for Earth bound astronomers is "astronomical seeing" movement of the air by rising heat that can distort an image and give rise to twinkling stars, stars do not and cannot twinkle this is purely a atmospheric effect of rising heat, you can commonly see the effect magnified over a source of heat if you look against the light. This is the reason most major observatories are built high up on mountain tops where the atmosphere is thinner and more stable. Orbiting telescopes suffer no distortion of this type, this can be seen in the extreme quality of the pictures sent back from the Hubble telescope.
For the rest of us on Terra Firma, you should not poke your telescope tube out of a bedroom window as the heat rising from the building will make your image dance around uncontrollably. For the same reason the plastic tent referred to will collect body heat from the observer(s) and have a similar effect of the "seeing" More permanent amateur small garden observatories do suffer from this to some extent but not so badly as being fixed tend to soak to the ambient temperature more readily and enthusiastic observers often wear very heavy heat retaining outer clothing, partly to stay warm in winter and partly to reduce the amount of heat escaping from the garment.  .
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Thanks for all the info and pointers.
I have been doing a fair bit of reading (brings back some of my 'A' level physics in optics).
@Petlew unfortunately the F90076 is collection only but too far away from me. The Vanguard is collection only but from London (N1) and I will be in London for a few days next week. If I can get it for less than a tenner then it may be OK to see if SWMBO wants to get more serious about it.
I know I have a pair of my granddad's old binoculars somewhere but not found them yet. I hope they haven't been lost as they have history attached to them where he used them in WWI. Probably wouldn't be suitable anyway as SWMBO certainly doesn't have a steady hand and definitely no mount for a tripod.
I will point her in the direction of books and online articles by Patrick Moore as I think she'll get the most from that.

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Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear - Mark Twain
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Patrick Moore's Naked Eye Astronomy is available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naked-Eye-Astronomy-Patrick-Moore/dp/0718805968
Only two copies left so don't delay, you won't regret it.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Thanks, I've placed an order for that book.
There's a couple more 'scopes but not much info on them:
Jessops Astronomical Telescope and tripod and astronomical telescope IFST 70076 - Vivitar
I'm searching for more info on the Vivitar now and have emailed the seller about the other one.
Edit 2: The Vivitar has been trashed in all reviews I found!

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Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear - Mark Twain
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Re: Any budding astronomers?

Vivitar put their name on other peoples cameras and produce budget camera lenses, but telescopes...?
Look for something from Meade or Celestron, both have budget telescopes in their well known ranges..
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.