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Re: Scope or binoculars for 12-year-old boy?

Subject: Re: Scope or binoculars for 12-year-old boy?
From: "Don't Be Evil"
Date: 1 Oct 2006 09:38:56 -0700
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur, alt.astronomy
Greg Bailey wrote:
> No. 1 son, age 12, has expressed a desire for a telescope for Christmas.
> He's always been very interested in rockets, spaceships, etc., he now says
> he'd like to look at the moon, stars, planets, etc.
>
> I know not to get him a "department store telescope." I had one of those
> when I was a kid and it was awful, to say the least.
>
> The thing is, I'm not sure my son is going to stay interested in this past
> Dec. 26. He'll go off on one tangent for a while, then switch to something
> else. He has ADD and has also been diagnosed as having borderline OCD, so
> we're talking about the attention span of a gnat, although again, he's
> stayed interested in space, as far as space travel, longer than anything
> else, maybe he can transfer that passion to astronomy.
>
> If I could know for sure that he would stay interested in it ... and take
> care of it, although he's beginning to mature somewhat he still can be
> irresponsible and not take care of his things, despite mine and his mother's
> best efforts; we're hoping it will just take some time ... I'd buy him an
> Orion SkyQuest XT 4.5 without a second thought.
>
> I don't know that for sure, so I'm not inclined to take that big a plunge
> with him just yet.
>
> So I'm looking at two options:
>
> 1. A Meade DS-80 EC, new in the box with warranty and the option to purchase
> an extended warranty, for roughly $90 including shipping from a vendor on
> eBay with 99.8 percent feedback. I know it's a lower end telescope, but I've
> seen some positive reviews for this model online that it's a step above the
> "department store" level.
>
> 2. Getting him a pair of binoculars to start with and see if he sticks with
> it, and if he does we can always get the Orion later.
>
> I'd appreciate any advice on what would be the best way to proceed here. And
> if the binocular route would be preferable, I'd appreciate some suggestions
> on specific models to look at.
>
> Thanks!

If you do go the Orion dob route, I'd go for the XT6.  It's only $30
more, and beside the larger aperture, it's enough taller to be easier
for older kids and adults to use.  The 4.5 is best for kids that are
too short to reach the eyepiece of larger ones.

Binoculars are great for deep sky, but from light polluted locations,
planets are a better bet, and are beyond the reach of binoculars.

When comparing telescopes, consider the included eyepieces.  Plossl's
are good enough to actually use.  Also good are the Expanse eyepieces
included with some Orion scopes.  Many cheap telescopes will come with
highly dubious eyepieces.  Also, be sure to get a 1.25" or larger
focuser.  Some versions of the Meade DS have a .965" which is to be
avoided.

Greg


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