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Doug Rice RSS Feed (Twin Falls, ID USA)

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Galileo Visions CC-2800 800MM*60MM Astronomical Terrestrial Telescope
Galileo Visions CC-2800 800MM*60MM Astronomical Terrestrial Telescope

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stay away from this scope, March 9, 2007
This is a good example of the kind of scope astronomers warn beginners against.

The first red flag is the ridiculously high maximum magnification of "800x." Do you know what you will see at 800x in this scope? Nothing but a dim blur. Note that the objective (main) lens is 60mm. All telescope optics have inherent limitations; maximum useful magnification per millimeter of aperture is about 2x. Therefore, with any attempt to use this scope at magnification of over 120-140x, increase in image size will be more than offset by breakdown, and that's even assuming the quality of the objective lens is any good.

To their credit, the marketers have added a red-dot finder in place of the useless 5x20 finders that plague most of these scopes. Still, the rest of the scope is not worth the money.

Using an astronomical telescope is not like playing an MP3 file and but rather like playing a guitar. It is a learned skill. And you must do a lot of homework before you buy a telescope. Buying without prior experience is like buying a car without knowing anything about driving. If you want to see the wonders of the sky, contact your local astronomy club and attend one of their star parties. The members love sharing their hobby and can set you straight as to how to get started. The best way is to learn the sky with the unaided eye and 10x50 binoculars (decent ones are available on Amazon), then graduate to something along the lines of a 150-200mm (6-8") Dobsonian; good ones can be found on Amazon starting under $290.

For more information on buying telescopes, see my encyclopedic guide on Amazon: "So you want to buy a telescope."
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 20, 2008 10:47 AM PDT


Cstar "All in 1" Series 60 x 700mm Full-Size Refractor Telescope
Cstar "All in 1" Series 60 x 700mm Full-Size Refractor Telescope

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this scope, March 9, 2007
This is the perfect example of the kind of scope astronomers warn beginners against.

The first red flag is the ridiculously high maximum magnification of over "700x." Do you know what you will see at 700x in this scope? Nothing but a dim blur. Note that the objective (main) lens is 60mm. All telescope optics have inherent limitations; maximum useful magnification per millimeter of aperture is about 2x. Therefore, with any attempt to use this scope at magnification of over 120-140x, increase in image size will be more than offset by breakdown, and that's even assuming the quality of the objective lens is any good.

The finder is useless: a 6x30 is barely adequate, and this one does not even meet that standard. Using it for anything but the moon will be an exercise in frustration. The "H" on the low-power eyepiece indicates a Huygens eyepiece, a cheap and antiquated design with a field of view so narrow it is not unlike looking through a drinking straw. For not much more money the marketers could have chosen a better eyepiece with over twice the viewing area, but they were not trying to make an instrument that was usable, merely trying to make the price as attractive as possible.

Buy this telescope, and I guarantee that as soon as the newness wears off it will be relegated to a forgotten corner of the attic.

Using an astronomical telescope is not like playing an MP3 file and but rather like playing a guitar. It is a learned skill. And you must do a lot of homework before you buy a telescope. Buying without prior experience is like buying a car without knowing anything about driving. If you want to see the wonders of the sky, contact your local astronomy club and attend one of their star parties. The members love sharing their hobby and can set you straight as to how to get started. The best way is to learn the sky with the unaided eye and 10x50 binoculars (decent ones are available on Amazon), then graduate to something along the lines of a 150-200mm (6-8") Dobsonian; good ones can be found on Amazon starting under $290.

For more information on buying telescopes, see my encyclopedic guide on Amazon: "So you want to buy a telescope."


Cstar Refractor Telescope Kit For Dummies (FD-60700) w/Astronomy for Dummies, 2nd Edition & Cstar Refractor Telescope
Cstar Refractor Telescope Kit For Dummies (FD-60700) w/Astronomy for Dummies, 2nd Edition & Cstar Refractor Telescope

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't be a dummy. Don't buy this scope., March 9, 2007
This is not the best way to get started in astronomy. To their credit, the marketers have avoided the exaggerated magnification claims that go with so many low-end scopes. Still, it is a low-end scope; for star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae, 10x50 binoculars will show you as much and be far easier to use.

The "H" on the eyepieces indicates a Huygens eyepiece, a cheap and antiquated design with a field of view so narrow it is not unlike looking through a drinking straw. For not much more money the marketers could have chosen a better eyepiece with over twice the viewing area, but they were not trying to make an instrument that was usable, merely trying to make the price as attractive as possible.

The finder is useless, smaller than the bare minimum size of 6x30. Finding anything but the moon will be time consuming and frustrating.

Using an astronomical telescope is not like playing an MP3 file and but rather like playing a guitar. It is a learned skill. And you must do a lot of homework before you buy a telescope. Buying without prior experience is like buying a car without knowing anything about driving. If you want to see the wonders of the sky, contact your local astronomy club and attend one of their star parties. The members love sharing their hobby and can set you straight as to how to get started. The best way is to learn the sky with the unaided eye and 10x50 binoculars (decent ones are available on Amazon), then graduate to something along the lines of a 150-200mm (6-8") Dobsonian, which can be found on Amazon starting under $290.

For more information on buying telescopes, see my encyclopedic guide on Amazon: "So you want to buy a telescope."


Meade NG60 60mm Refractor Telescope
Meade NG60 60mm Refractor Telescope
Offered by thehappystore
Price: $124.99
3 used & new from $124.99

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a good choice, March 7, 2007
This is not the best way to get started in astronomy. To their credit, the marketers have avoided the exaggerated magnification claims that go with so many low-end scopes. Still, it is a low-end scope; for star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae, 10x50 binoculars will show you as much and be far easier to use.

The low power eyepiece is fairly useful, the higher power less so, and don't even think of using the barlow. The maximum useful magnification for a 60mm scope is about 120-140x, assuming the objective lens is of good quality. When you use the barlow, you exceed that limit and the increased image size is more than offset by breakdown.

The finder is useless, smaller than the bare minimum size of 6x30. Finding anything but the moon will be time consuming and frustrating.

Due to the small aperture (diameter of main lens), what you can expect to see in this scope is rather limited. Some star clusters will be dimly visible, but galaxies and nebulae will be barely--if at all--visible.

In a way, it is hard to fault Meade for making and marketing this scope. Their upper-tier instruments are quite good, but the big money appears to be made on mass market toys like this. In one sense the sale of these scopes subsidizes their good models. Just make sure, gentle reader, to stay away from the toys.

Using an astronomical telescope is not like playing an MP3 file and but rather like playing a guitar. It is a learned skill. And you must do a lot of homework before you buy a telescope. Buying without prior experience is like buying a car without knowing anything about driving. If you want to see the wonders of the sky, contact your local astronomy club and attend one of their star parties. The members love sharing their hobby and can set you straight as to how to get started. The best way is to learn the sky with the unaided eye and 10x50 binoculars (decent ones are available on Amazon), then graduate to something along the lines of a 150-200mm (6-8") Dobsonian, which can be found on Amazon starting under $290.

For more information on buying telescopes, see my encyclopedic guide on Amazon: "So you want to buy a telescope."


Binocular Astronomy
Binocular Astronomy
by Wil Tirion
Edition: Hardcover
36 used & new from $4.78

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good guidebook, bad atlas, March 4, 2007
This review is from: Binocular Astronomy (Hardcover)
Binocular Astronomy is an excellent introduction to the underappreciated art of exploring the night sky with binoculars. The book is first rate for small telescopes as well.

The text gives the sense of an observer who has spent many nights with binoculars. The lists of objects is exhaustive and the descriptions are useful. One of his great contributions to binocular observing is his recommendation of 10x50 binoculars, refuting the myth that "7x50s are ideal for astronomy." As he rightly points out, the sky background is darker in 10x50s, making for more contrast and ferreting out dimmer objects.

Be aware that to see all the objects Crossen lists, you will need a very dark sky and lots of experience. These lists go far beyond what a novice will see under a suburban sky.

The only real problem is the unfortunate inclusion of Tirion's Bright Star Atlas. It is not on a par with the rest of the book. The charts have annoying distortion near their top and bottom, their edges have no information to direct the user efficiently to adjoining charts (i.e.: "Continues on Chart 5"), and, worst of all, they are arranged in reverse order, which makes for ridiculous two-page spreads. Imagine opening a road atlas to a two-page spread of, say, the State of Montana and finding the eastern and western halves reversed. In place of one state, you have two disjointed halves. How could any cartographer be so colossally stupid?

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: when you buy this book, add Sky and Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas for a mere $15 more. It is far, far better designed and goes a magnitude and a half deeper, showing three times as many stars, all of which will show up in your binoculars. It will greatly enhance your experience in the field.

The combination of Binocular Astronomy and Pocket Sky Atlas is unbeatable. Beginners, forget those department-store telescopes and get binoculars, along with these two books.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2010 6:42 PM PST


Meade Telestar NGC-60A Achromatic Refractor Telescope
Meade Telestar NGC-60A Achromatic Refractor Telescope

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Think before buying this scope, February 4, 2007
The Telestar NGC-60A is better than the numerous trashy scopes on the market in that the manufacturer has omitted the ridiculously high power eyepieces along with the exaggerated claims. The scope also has the convenience of computerization. But the fact remains that a telescope is only as good as its optics, and this is a low-end model. What, then, should you expect with this scope and what should you not expect?

What you should not expect is an easy ticket to stunning views like those in picture books. Those pictures were taken with time exposures. In an amateur telescope, most celestial objects are dim smudges whose vague glow is barely visible against the sky background. This is especially so for a scope as small as this one. In it, some star clusters will show up dimly but decently; most galaxies and nebulae will be barely visible, if at all.

What you can expect is a partial bypass of the often frustrating process of finding objects in the sky. Given how miserable that task is with the inferior eyepieces and finders so prevalent on mass-market telescopes, there is something to be said for go-to scopes like this one.

But finding is only one of the challenges you face in stargazing. Looking through an astronomical telescope is a learned skill, less like playing an MP3 file and more like playing a guitar. The more time you spend training your eyes to see detail just barely at the edge of visibility, the more you will get out of observing. You will also see a lot more if you take the time to get to a relatively dark observing spot and dark-adapt your eyes for a half hour or more. If all this disappoints and deters you, do not even consider this scope.

If, instead, you are fascinated by this prospect, this scope may possibly be for you. But before buying it, think about what you really want from astronomy and consider the alternatives.

If computerized finding attracts you, is it because you simply want to see the wonders of the sky without investing too much effort? Maybe a better alternative would be to contact your local astronomy club and attend a star party. The members love sharing their hobby, and their scopes will show you far more than you will see in a 60mm model like the Telestar NGC-60A.

Or are you attracted by the price and see this scope as a way to get started in a fascinating hobby without spending too much? Prices are often not what they seem. For example the 9mm (high-power) eyepiece supplied is pretty cheap, definitely not wide-field as claimed; you will probably want to spend extra to upgrade it. If resources are limited, you might be better off forgetting computerization and investing in better optics. For under $290 (plus maybe $70 to upgrade the finders), you could get a new noncomputerized 150mm (6") Dobsonian--available here on Amazon from Celestron and other manufacturers--that would offer nearly 3 times the useful magnification, (more importantly) gather 6 times the light, and keep you busy for years. You could even get a used one on the Astromart website for not very much more than you would pay for the Telestar NGC-60A.

Another affordable alternative is 10x50 binoculars with a tripod and mounting bracket. For most objects, they will show every bit as much as a 60mm scope like this one. In fact, binoculars are the best way to get started in astronomy. The Amazon website offers some good choices in binoculars.

Maybe you want computerization and money is not an object. Then I suggest you skip the low-end stuff and get a computerized 125-200mm (5-8"). Amazon also sells these.

Have I flooded you with too many things to think about? Well, this is precisely the point. You need to do your homework before you buy. Buying a telescope without prior experience is like buying a car without knowing anything about cars or driving. I suggest you start by learning the sky with your unaided eye, a chart, and a night-vision-saving red flashlight. Your local astronomy club is a valuable source of experience and advice. Learn to view with binoculars. Before you buy a scope, try out different ones.

For more information on buying telescopes, see my encyclopedic guide on Amazon: "So you want to buy a telescope."
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 9, 2008 2:48 PM PDT


Celestron StarHopper 8
Celestron StarHopper 8

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb amateur telescope, February 1, 2007
This review is from: Celestron StarHopper 8 (Camera)
This is not only the ideal scope for beginners but enough of an instrument to show you new things in the sky for years to come. It is sturdy and simple to operate. It has enough light-gathering power (more important than magnification) to reveal dim star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies and good enough optics to show you the surface of planets like Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

Dobsonians like this one give by far the most view for the dollar, and the price on this one is great. Affordable as this scope is, there is no reason to give so much as a glance at the numerous trashy 60mm refractors with exaggerated magnification claims that litter the market.

Some advice on selection. Dobsonians come in a range of sizes. A 114mm (4 ½") is a bit on the small side but still a fine instrument, especially if your ability to carry large objects is limited. A 150-200mm (6-8") scope like this one is right in the middle of the recommended range. A 250mm (10") is on the big side, and you should buy one only if you are able-bodied.

A very useful bonus is a full-sized 9x50mm finder scope. If competing models offer only a 6x30mm finder, you should factor in the cost of upgrading to the far better 50mm size.

You will need eyepieces. Plossl-type eyepieces are good yet affordable: start with a 32mm and a 7 or 8mm.

Some advice on use. Viewing through a telescope is less like playing a CD and more like playing a guitar. Finding objects takes a little bit of practice. To simplify it, I would suggest adding a red-dot finder to aid in initial pointing. You will also need to buy an atlas (Sky & Telescope's Pocket sky Atlas is the best available), a red flashlight to view the charts without blowing out your badly-needed night vision, and a guidebook to lead you to interesting objects. These investments will greatly add to your enjoyment.

What more can I say? This is the kind of scope that experienced observers have been trying to steer novices towards for decades. Although, I recommend that you do your homework before buying any scope--learn the sky and get to know experienced stargazers who can advise you--when it comes time to purchase, you could hardly do better than this scope.

For more advice, see my encyclopedic guide here on Amazon, "So you want to buy a telescope."


StarHopper 6
StarHopper 6

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal scope for beginners--and more, February 1, 2007
This review is from: StarHopper 6 (Camera)
This is not only a first-rate scope for beginners but enough of an instrument to show you new things in the sky for years to come. It is sturdy and simple to operate. It has enough light-gathering power (more important than magnification) to reveal dim star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies and good enough optics to show you the surface of planets like Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

Dobsonians like this one give by far the most view for the dollar. Affordable as this scope is, there is no reason to give so much as a glance at the numerous trashy 60mm refractors with exaggerated magnification claims that litter the market.

Some advice on selection. Dobsonians come in a range of sizes. A 114mm (4 ½") is a bit on the small side but still a fine instrument, especially if your ability to carry large objects is limited. A 150-200mm (6-8") scope like this one is in the middle of the recommended range. A 250mm (10") is on the big side, and you should buy one only if you are able-bodied.

You will need eyepieces. Plossl-type eyepieces are good yet affordable: start with a 32mm and a 7- or 8-mm.

Some advice on use. Viewing through a telescope is less like playing a CD and more like playing a guitar. Finding objects takes a little bit of practice. To simplify finding, I would suggest replacing the supplied finder with Orion's superior 8x40 model and also supplementing it with a "red dot" finder; both are available on Amazon. You will also need to buy an atlas (Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas is the best available), a red flashlight to view the charts without blowing out your badly-needed night vision, and a guidebook to lead you to interesting objects. These investments will greatly add to your enjoyment.

What more can I say? This is the kind of scope that experienced observers have been trying to steer novices towards for decades. Although, I recommend that you do your homework before buying any scope--learn the sky and get to know experienced stargazers who can advise you--when it comes time to purchase, you could hardly do better than this scope.

For more advice, see my encyclopedic guide here on Amazon, "So you want to buy a telescope."
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2007 9:00 AM PST


Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic
Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ideal scope for beginners--and more, February 1, 2007
This is the best scope of its size for the money. It is not only a first-rate scope for beginners but enough of an instrument to show you new things in the sky for years to come. It is sturdy and simple to operate. It has enough light-gathering power (more important than magnification) to reveal dim star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies and good enough optics to show you the surface of planets like Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

Dobsonians like this one give by far the most view for the dollar, and the price on this one is superb. Affordable as this scope is, there is no reason to give so much as a glance at the numerous trashy 60mm refractors with exaggerated magnification claims that litter the market.

Some advice on selection. Dobsonians come in a range of sizes. A 114mm (4 ½") is a bit on the small side but still a fine instrument, especially if your ability to carry large objects is limited. A 150-200mm (6-8") scope like this one is in the middle of the recommended range. A 250mm (10") is on the big side, and you should buy one only if you are able-bodied.

The advantage of this scope over the competing Celestron model (also reviewed) is that it comes with two good eyepieces.

Some advice on use. Viewing through a telescope is less like playing a CD and more like playing a guitar. Finding objects takes a little bit of practice. To simplify finding, I would suggest replacing the supplied finder with Orion's superior 8x40 model and also supplementing it with a "red dot" finder; both are available on Amazon. You will also need to buy an atlas (Sky & Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas is the best available), a red flashlight to view the charts without blowing out your badly-needed night vision, and a guidebook to lead you to interesting objects. These investments will greatly add to your enjoyment.

What more can I say? This is the kind of scope that experienced observers have been trying to steer novices towards for decades. Although, I recommend that you do your homework before buying any scope--learn the sky and get to know experienced stargazers who can advise you--when it comes time to purchase, you could hardly do better than this scope.

For more advice, see my encyclopedic guide here on Amazon, "So you want to buy a telescope."


Meade 12-Inch LightBridge (f/5) Truss-Tube Dobsonian
Meade 12-Inch LightBridge (f/5) Truss-Tube Dobsonian
Offered by Adorama Camera
Price: $999.00

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great scope for the money, January 6, 2007
John Dobson's simple and portable design made large telescopes available to the average amateur astronomer. But the bulky tubes limited the portability of really big sizes.

The breakthrough came with Ivar Hamburg's truss tube models, which allowed enormous scopes to break down into easily portable sections. But this was always a premium feature, unavailable to observers on a tight budget, unless they built their own.

Now Meade has produced a good quality large truss-tube scope that is competitive in price with the old solid-tube design.

Optics are good. Setup, takedown, and transport are easy. The mirror box is, of course, pretty heavy but manageable for an able-bodied person. I find that, contrary to claims, I have to collimate (align) the optics every time I set up, but I've always accepted this as a given with any scope that dismantles.

I have been weirded out by some of Meade's odd designs like the Schmidt-Newtonian, but I find their truss-tube Dob a winner. It brings great views, easy transport, and affordable price together as they have never been before. Buy it, you'll like it.

For a more in-depth view on buying telescopes, see my encyclopedic guide on Amazon, "So you'd like to buy a telescope."


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