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Re: What does it cost for a newcomer to astronomy?

Subject: Re: What does it cost for a newcomer to astronomy?
From: "Jan Owen"
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 14:04:25 -0700
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
"Cherokee" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]
> One lesson I've learned from other hobbies is it's a bad idea to spend
> too little when entering a new hobby.  The very low end of any hobby
> tends to be something I outgrow very quickly.  At that point I buy
> something "mid-level'  and regret spending the money on the entry level
> product
> I've also learned that the low end products of any hobby do not give a
> very good representation of the hobby itself.  The low end is usually
> flooded with poor quality products.  Such poor quality products lead to
> frustration as the newcomer struggles to get it to work right.
> Given these two lessons, I'd appreciate a fair estimate of how much a
> newcomer in this hobby should set aside to get their first telescope
> rig.  What is the ballpark cost to buy a telescope setup that will give
> a fair representation of the hobby of astronomy?
> peace,
> Cherokee
 You've already gotten good advice, and I'm sure you will get more.

But you really should give us at least SOME idea of what kind of cost
window is acceptable to you, or we will not be able to get you into a very
good ballpark, equipment-wise.


Because there are lots of different types of telescopes and equipment you
can buy, in an almost bewildering array of sizes and prices.  And price is
not necessarily at ALL directly related to size, or the types of objects
you can see with a given type.

There are relatively small refractors that will show you wonderful detail
on the moon and planets, but that have price tags that would stun a horse.
Not that they aren't worth it, but probably not a good choice for your
first scope, unless you KNOW exactly what you are going to be looking at,
and are already certain a high quality APO refractor is the scope for

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Dobsonian reflectors.  You can
get a scope that will show you detail in objects you can't even SEE in a
small APO, and you can get one for less than a thousand dollars.  But they
are not driven (they will not automatically track the object you point
them at), and, depending on the size, they may not be easily

Beginning to get it?  This is why we mostly recommend you try to locate a
nearby astronomy club, and attend one or more of their star parties, and
look through as many of their scopes as you can, to get a better feel for
what YOU like the best, BEFORE you buy.

Sometimes, folks can't locate a nearby club, or there isn't one.  For
them, sometimes a good Google search of the SAA archives is a good place
to see what others have done, or recommended...

My general suggestion, for those who can't try them out in advance, is to
buy either an 8" or a 10" Dobsonian (Newtonian) reflector, two or three
eyepieces, a 2X Barlow, and some good star charts.

An 8" scope will deliver a lifetime of objects for a really user-friendly
price.  But aperture fever lurks right around the corner...  With a 10",
you will be able to go longer before the aperture fever bug sets in...
Maybe even a lifetime.

You probably don't want to get much more heavily invested in this any more
than one of the above for starters, because there is another trap lurking
just around the corner; imaging.  And that might open up your telescopic
interest in somewhat different directions.  If you think there is a high
probability you might want to get into imaging, you may want to consider
starting out with an SCT instead of the Dobsonian...  For visual work, I
tend to prefer other scopes, but a good SCT can do it all (some things
better than others), but for a bit higher price...  Great versatility,

Whichever direction you decide to go, welcome to the hobby, and I hope
your search for your first scope doesn't become too confusing...  If it
does, you have already tapped into a GREAT place to get answers to your
questions.  Just ask away!!!

Have FUN!!!

MY solution to the problem has always been to buy one of EVERYTHING.  It's
worked for me...

Jan Owen

To reach me directly, remove the Z, if one appears in my e-mail address...
Latitude: 33.662
Longitude: -112.3272

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