Total beginner - trying to keep up with my 6yo daughter!

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zedzed
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Total beginner - trying to keep up with my 6yo daughter!

Post by zedzed »

Hi all,

My 6 yo daughter is mad keen on astronomy - learning all about the planets at school. I've always been interested but not got round to astronomy, so this seems a good chance for us to learn together and do something "father and daughter".

So ... looking for some advice. I'd like to get:

Binoculars and a stand that we can both use. Do any online stores out there sell "packages" (binos + tripod) at we could both use? Any recommendations on kit that won't break the bank? (£50 to £100 max).

A few intro books. One that helps her understand a little more (kids level, obv!), and then something I can read that helps me find the stuff in the sky she wants to see!

Any other beginner advice greatly appreciated :)

Dez

p.s. We're going to go to Galloway forest park in the next month or so for a "sleep in a tent and do some star gazing" night. Any advice on that appreciated too. Other than not going on a cloudy night ;-) :D
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Welcome.
Because your daughter is probably smallish a binocular needs to be small and rather good.
When changing eye separation a binocular seemingly collimated for adults may not be collimated for the smaller interpupillary distance of children.

I suggest a 7 x 35 binocular.

She may also be better off with a small low Newtonian or perhaps a small refractor or spotting scope.

I will think more and others will give advice.

Turn Left at Orion latest edition is recommended here frequently but maybe there are other books.

regards,David
Brian
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Post by Brian »

Welcome Dez! 8)

Have you looked in the "Young Stargazers" section of the main SPA webpages:

http://www.popastro.com/youngstargazers/index.php

Your daughter may find things of interest there.

And might she be interested in a MoonGazers Wheel which explains the phases of the Moopn as we see them in the sky:

http://bobcrelin.com/moonwheel.html for info
http://www.scsastro.co.uk/catalogue/moo ... -wheel.htm UK dealer

HTH

Regards,
Brian
52.3N 0.6W
Wellingborough UK.

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David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Dear Dez,
Regarding a telescope.
There are small children's telescopes such as the Skywatcher £50 ball shaped Newtonian.
Then a spotting scope such as a 65mm Acuter.
But a good tripod is needed for this and if you don't already have a good photo tripod, aluminium weighing around 2.5 kg the total cost is too high for your budget.
There is the Skywatcher Heritage small Dobsonian but also over £100.

There is the Olympus wide angle 7x35 Binocular at Microglobe £40 plus postage, but at 650 gm maybe a bit heavy.
There may be lighter weight 7x35s.

You could always get an 8 x 21 Roof prism binocular from Jesspps, Argos, Tesco etc for £6 to £10.
These are often good but make sure it is collimated, i.e both images aligned perfectly.
I would think this is a sensible start. It has a small front lens but your daughter could see detail on the Moon.
Make sure she knows never to look at the Sun with any optical instrument or the unaided eyes.
Perhaps a trip to a camera/binocular shop would see if she can hold a 7 x 35 binocular without getting tired.

Because of the different heights of a 6 year old and adult, it will mean the adult has to kneel or sit to be at the same eyepiece height with a scope.

Sherwoods photo has a Forest optics 25x to 75x spotting scope for £80 but the half priced tripod at £20 and about 1600 gm is really too light and a suitable tripod would put the price around £140 rather than £100.

There are options, but it seems silly to get a very cheap scope on a very unstable mount for a low price, rather than something that will last and can give good steady views.
The cheap scopes usually magnify too much and just put people off as they are so useless.

Regards, David
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Jessops have if in stock at their stores the Vivitar Chrome 8x21 binoculars for £4.99 or £4.95.

Should be a reasonbly useful item, but make sure you get a good one and return if faulty.
If you buy one, buy the one you test not an identical boxed one.

David
zedzed
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Post by zedzed »

Thanks for the advice so far ... will look at all the options and see where I go!

I want to make sure I get something worthwhile though ... so I guess I might spend a little more to get something decent ... and if in 12 months I'm not using it hopefully it would get decent resale on eBay. Fingers crossed that doesn't happen though ... Turn Left at Orion has arrived and I've read the first 30 pages in one sitting ;-)

Thanks again,
Dez
David Frydman
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Post by David Frydman »

Dez.
About £150 will get a good telescope with a reasonably steady mount that gives good views.

David
Kevvek
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Post by Kevvek »

Hi, my daughters are 8 and 12, and have looked through my 110m refractor, mounted on a eq3 mount, They really do love looking at the moon, and Jupiter recently as well. Then what happens is they tell their friends and they come round and have a look as well! And the parents love it as well!
I have found that my daughters have been able to use tripod mounted binoculars but you do end up having to change the distance between the eyepieces and the height of the binoculars, then have to stoop and realign them to the object you are looking at after a while. but it does work.
When they look through the telescope, its interesting watching them coping with using one eye, but they soon get the hang of it. The eq mount also enables you to keep track with the object easier.
Why not try out a local astronomy society or visit an astronomy shop if there is one nearby?
I have found both to be amazingly friendly and helpful as well.
best wishes
Kev
Gneiss
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Re: Total beginner - trying to keep up with my 6yo daughter!

Post by Gneiss »

zedzed wrote: Any other beginner advice greatly appreciated :)
Download a good planetarium program... Stellarium for example.

Plan what you are going to look for using that, let your daughter choose with your guidance, then pop outside and find the objects in the real sky.
Robin Scagell
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Re: Total beginner - trying to keep up with my 6yo daughter!

Post by Robin Scagell »

As David says, the Sky-Watcher Infinity 76 is an excellent little scope:

http://www.opticalvision.co.uk/astronom ... telescopes

Available from most suppliers for under £50. I'm sure Sky-Watcher won't mind my hotlinking their picture:

Image

This will bridge the gap between binoculars and a larger telescope, and it is easy to use and to carry around. The only drawback is that there is no finder system, so locating objects would take a little time.

A popular starter telescope is the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130 at £179 or less. But I would definitely advocate getting the motorised version at £209 as the motor is well worth the extra. These small mounts are fiddly, and following objects through the sky with manual controls can be frustrating.

Any of the Sky-Watcher instruments are good, with the exception of the Skyhawk-114 so-called catadioptric, or the Celestron equivalent, which I think are a waste of money.

Robin
Paul Millington
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Re: Total beginner - trying to keep up with my 6yo daughter!

Post by Paul Millington »

Hi Dez,
Check with your local Library they may be able to put you in touch with a local society that may let you both have a look through a telescope. I know the nights are light now but it would give you something to look forward to,

Paul
Astronomy is looking up
Lat : 51.62N Lon : 0.75W
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