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pagandeva2000
2010-Mar-17, 07:14 PM
Hello Everyone!

I am a newbie to backyard astronomy. Has been a desire for quite some time, but finally, I decided to pursue it. I just want to observe the skies, see the planets, idenfity constellations and learn how to use the seemingly overwhelming tools available over time. I hope to have many informative interactions on this site and look forward to meeting the forum members.

I have two questions: One is that I am interested in the Celestron FirstScope. Currently, I have Celestron binos 10 x 50 and am learning to use them gradually (since I don't know what I am looking at just yet). I see that it advertises that a person can 'see Jupiter and it's 4 Galilean moons' and the rings of Saturn, etc... Since I am not technically inclined, it is hard for me to discern if this is worth the buy.

Second is that while searching around, my son discovered http://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Celestial-Night-Monocular/product-reviews/B001H31D3W/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&coliid=&showViewpoints=1&colid=&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending.

I admit I am very naive, but it appears to me that it may be the 'best of both worlds' between binos and a small scope because it is portable and seems easy to use. Would any of you consider this monocular as an item of choice?

Take care and happy stargazing!

RickJ
2010-Mar-17, 09:00 PM
I'd avoid both. Without a location I can't help much but find an astronomy club in your area and attend star parties. There you will learn about telescopes in far more useful terms than we can explain it here. There's a lot of compromises when buying a telescope. You have no real idea what they are or even which ones you can and can't live with. There is no right or wrong answer to your question. What is right for one is very wrong for another due to all these compromises.

I can tell you that those in our club starting with very bottom end, more toy like, scopes as both those you suggest really are, never seem to go very far and soon are lost. Those that buy a step up grow and prosper in the hobby. Our club offers loaner scopes and twice monthly star parties where newbies can learn the ropes, and observe while saving for a real telescope. This is the case with many astronomy clubs. Your binoculars and a a good book on binocular astronomy will be the best starting point while saving. About 80 Messier deep sky objects can be seen in a pair of 10x50 binoculars, you just have to learn the sky well enough to find them. Even more of a problem with a telescope which has a far smaller field of view.

A couple links for astronomy clubs.
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/organizations
http://www.astronomyclubs.com/

Look through the archives here as this question gets asked a lot and many good links are in the archives. Here's one
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/equipment/basics

In light gathering power (this determines what and how far into spece you can see) a pair of 10x50 binoculars is about half way between the naked eye and a rather large amateur telescope costing thousands of dollars. Like any tool you have to know how to use it. Being far simpler than a telescope binoculars are the best starting point.
http://www.uvaa.org/BinocularResources.htm

The Night vision thing is more a geek toy than anything. I know of no amateur using it other that that way.

The First Scope is a good scope for a youn kid, 9 or under. i had something similar, but of better optical quality at that age. It's optics are spherical not parabolic. At its short focal length spherical doesn't cut it. It works only up to about 30 power before the image gets fuzzy. A good Parabolic 3" mirror would work to 150x or even a spherical one of at least twice the focal length would be fine, that's what mine at that age was. Still it can keep a kid entertained but I doubt anyone with a serious interest over 9 or 10 would be served by it. By 10 I'd graduated to a 6" reflector that could really show me the things I wanted to see the way I wanted to see them, no more "Is that it?" reaction, more "THAT'S IT!!!" makes a big difference even if it did take me 3 nights to find it, it being M11 by the way.

Your skies will determine a lot about what's best as will your main interest. Everything is just not possible, even with my now 10 telescopes though I'm coming close now. This is an area the locals can help you with best as they deal with it nightly.

This is a lifetime hobby, I've been doing it since the early 50's. That's 1950's not 1850's as my granddaughter told her 6th grade class.

Rick

redshifter
2010-Mar-17, 09:07 PM
In addition to Rick's great advice, read this: http://scopereviews.com/begin.html

Believe it or not, you're off to a great start with your 10X50's. IMO, definitely worth the buy.

pagandeva2000
2010-Mar-17, 11:00 PM
Thanks for your timely and informative responses! I contacted a person here in New York who invited me to come to observe sometime in April.

Romanus
2010-Mar-28, 03:59 PM
As an owner of a FirstScope (a C-60), I'd think twice, even though I love the old scope. It was my first instrument, and while it kept me happy for years, certain design flaws (an extremely jittery mount, loose fine-adjustment screws, a terrible finder scope) may quickly try your patience. Though I'll shy away from mentioning specific models, I recommend saving for either a slightly larger refractor (70-80mm), or better yet a small, entry-level Dobsonian (4.5-6in).

Best of luck!

Siguy
2010-Mar-28, 06:20 PM
As an owner of a FirstScope (a C-60), I'd think twice, even though I love the old scope. It was my first instrument, and while it kept me happy for years, certain design flaws (an extremely jittery mount, loose fine-adjustment screws, a terrible finder scope) may quickly try your patience. Though I'll shy away from mentioning specific models, I recommend saving for either a slightly larger refractor (70-80mm), or better yet a small, entry-level Dobsonian (4.5-6in).

Best of luck!

Just so you know, the Firstscope referred to in the OP isn't actually related to the (now discontinued) line of Celestron Telescopes also called Firstscope.

pagandeva2000
2010-Mar-29, 12:57 PM
I got a chance to gaze at the moon throughout most of it's waxing phases with my son, which was wonderful! I got my son and husband interested as well. In fact, my husband offered to take me to the roof of our job (we work in a hospital) to view things. I live in the suburbs of New York, so, we have major issues with light pollution, but at least, from the roof, I can have less obstruction from other houses.

Also, the astronomy club I contacted mentioned that they will start gazing in a few weeks. I'll try and meet with them a few times to observe and check out their equipment. Thanks, guys for the kind, receptive and informative responses. I'll keep you all posted!