Why buy a child a telescope?
Children love looking up at the night sky. It fills them with wonder and curiosity. Giving a child a telescope opens up the universe to them and along with a little passed on knowledge can be a wonderful educational tool that will fuel their imagination for years to come.
But buying a telescope is more than buying something to entertain them. It can also be the planting of a seed that will grow into something far greater: a passion.
Whether you are a parent, uncle, aunt, or even a middle/high school teacher looking to challenge pupils, buying a telescope could be the start of an amazing journey.
How do I know which telescope to buy?
There are many factors to take into account when buying a telescope for a child:
- The age of the child will determine which telescope is appropriate for them. There’s no point in buying a large, heavy scope for a young child who will have difficulty wielding or understanding how to use it.
- You want the telescope to challenge your child but not be too complex that they are put off using it. Strike a balance between complexity and ease of use that is right for your child.
What are the main features the telescope should include?
When deciding on the best scope for your child, it is important to consider what they will want to look at through it. There are many types of telescope that offer different features. So it’s important to ask yourself what will be important for your child.
The two main things to consider are the telescopes aperture and magnification.
- Aperture is the most important feature of a telescope. The larger the aperture, the more light will be allowed into the telescope, and as a result, the brighter and clearer the image will be. A large aperture for children is generally important so they get a better view of whatever it is they are looking at.
- Magnification is how far the telescope will zoom in and will affect how much of the night sky you can see. Ideally any telescope should have both a high magnification and high aperture rating.
What type of telescope should I choose?
There are 3 basic types of telescopes:
Refractor telescopes are the most common type of telescope available. They comprise of a long tube with a large lens at one end and an eyepiece at the other.
The advantage of a Refractor telescope is that they are simple and easy to use and require little to no maintenance.
The main disadvantage is that they generally have small apertures and are heavier and longer than other types of telescope
Reflector telescopes use mirrors instead of a lens to capture light. They look similar to Refractor telescopes but have an eyepiece on the side of the tube, not on the end.
The advantage of a Reflector telescope is that they are pretty easy to use but unlike Refractor scopes generally have large apertures for brighter images. They are also quite compact and can be a little cheaper in price.
The disadvantages of a Reflector telescope is that they can require heavy maintenance as the tube is open to the air allowing dust to accumulate on the optics over time.
Catadioptric telescopes are a hybrid of Refractor and Reflector telescopes in that they use a combination of mirrors and lenses.
Because of this they share many of the advantages of both Refractor and Reflector scopes. They are compact and durable, requiring little maintenance. They come with a good range of aperture settings and are easy to use.
The main disadvantage of Catadioptric telescopes is that they are more expensive than other types of telescope.
Other things to look out for
- Comfort and stability are important factors when choosing a telescope for a child. Make sure the telescope isn’t too big for both the child and the space you have available in your home.
- Be sure to find out what type of mount the telescope uses. There are two basic types of mounts, altazimuth (AZ) mounts, and equatorial (EQ) mounts. AZ mounts allow for manual adjustments to the telescope. EQ mounts are easier to use and have a slow-motion control that moves the telescope in an arc across the sky.
- You’ll need a tripod for your telescope to ensure it can be used comfortably.
Top-rated starter telescopes for astrophotography
•400mm focal length
•Includes 3 Barlow lenses
•Ample Amazon reviews attest to decent image quality.
•Cheap and comes with a carry bag, smartphone adapter and wireless remote.
•The 3 included lenses give decent image magnification
•Some reviews speak of poor build quality, with some buyers reporting cracks in the plastic components over time
•Refractor telescope scope
•Includes 3 Barlow lenses
•Maximum magnification of 128x
•Includes finder scope
•Image quality is reported as good
•Cheap and includes a tripod
•Finder scope is a useful addition
•Build quality is reported to be plasticky and less robust than competitors
•3 Eyepieces and 2 Barlow lenses giving it up to 350x zoom
•Includes finder scope and tripod
•You get a lot for your money with the ToyerBee reflector telescope including a 3 year guarantee
•Larger 76mm Aperture should give decent image quality
•Magnification levels are good at this price point
•Easy to assemble and more portable due to being a Reflector scope
•Again, build quality is reported as poor in customer reviews
•Some customers report a lack of instructions in the box
•Aperture of 70mm
•Magnification range is between 16x to 200x
•3 included eyepieces
•Includes finder scope and tripod
•The SkySpy Refractor Telescope is the best customer reviewed telescope on our list on Amazon
•Includes a nice bag to carry it with
•Customer reviews say that build quality is good and that the included tripod is sturdy
•Finder scope is useful
•Very few customers have anything bad to say about the telescope. If we were being picky, we’d have to say that the magnification range is less than competing telescopes
•Includes a monocular travel scope
•Astronomical refractor telescope
•Includes portable bag, smartphone adapter, and camera remote
•Includes 2 lenses for a maximum magnification of 124x
•Finder scope is always useful
•Tripod is sturdy
•Easy to assemble
•Poor magnification range compared to its competitors
•Some customers complain of poor build quality and a lack of manual
And the winner is…
For our money the SkySpy 70mm Refractor Telescope is the best starter telescope for astrophotography especially if the user is a child. According to users, it has good build quality for the price point and it comes with a decent all round package of accessories to get your child started.