View Full Version : Digital Picture Telescope Question

John Fee
2010-May-30, 05:40 PM
Hi. I don't know anything about telescopes or binoculars, but I would really appreciate someone with knowledge helping me out a little. I would like to buy a telescope for my neice for her birthday. I'm wondering if the one I'm looking at is decent? She's 7 years old, so a starter telescope is what I'm looking for, but I don't want a cheapie. I want one She'll be able to keep for a while.
It's issued by National Geographic:
70x300mm refractor telescope with digital eyepiece camera
70 mm multicoated achromatic lens
45 degree prism
20 mm & 4mm lenses
3x Barlow lens
USB port to upload pics to computer
plus a free tripod.
No info on the digi camera pixel quality or anything
Is this a good telescope at all?
It's advertised at $89.99 sale price

2010-May-30, 07:39 PM
Astronomy magazine had a really favourable review of the Celestron FirstScope which is roughly the same price. Celestron is a reputable scope manufacturer and this scope looks easier to setup and use than a tripod mounted scope. (Everyone I know who has bought a tripod mounted scope for a first scope used it twice and gave up! )

Perhaps you could ask a moderator to move this to the Equipment part of the forum where the hardware guys hang out. they will give you an honest opinion.

John Fee
2010-May-31, 01:43 PM

2010-May-31, 02:16 PM
John Fee,

First, welcome to BAUT. Second, I thought loglo's idea was a good one and I've moved your question to the Astronomical Equipment section. I think you'll get a lot more responses over here. Good luck.

John Fee
2010-May-31, 02:27 PM
Many thanks to the both of you

2010-May-31, 04:39 PM
For a 7-year old you might consider some lightweight binoculars for about the same price or even much less.

The National Geo web site shows a pair of bincos with the same objective lens size (two in fact :) ) as the scope that you are considering and for $10 less. And while they will be somewhat heavy for a 7-year-old the binocs include a tripod adapter. Plus they can be used for other activities besides astronomy.

If you have your heart set on a scope, you might also look at the Meade (http://www.meade.com/)and Orion (http://www.telescope.com/control/category/~category_id=telescopes?atc=ggldlp&gclid=CIX01a3m_KECFY1a2godrl3uDg)web sites and look at the entry-level Dobsonion scopes such as the 4.5-inch.

Better yet, take her to a local astronomy club's star party; you may not see many entry-level scopes but you'll also find out her level of interest.

2010-May-31, 10:22 PM
Any scope for a 7 year old she won't soon outgrow will be too much scope! At that age my dad bought me something similar to the Celestron FirstScope though it worked at f/8 so gave a bit better images. Still it is a far better choice than the one you mention. Astronomy is a hard subject, you don't want to make it harder with a lot of add on gizmos that add nothing but frustration which those on that scope are sure to do for a 7 year old. KISS is what you want at that age.

I can't recommend the Firstscope for adults but for her age it is perfect. At 10 or so consider something better and larger such as the 4.5" entry dob would be fine but its too much for a 7 year old to move around on her own. Also a pair of 7x35 binoculars are light enough for a child and will add a lot to the hobby for her. I'd look into a pair as well. Anything larger is too tiring for a child of that age to handle. Small is usually too small. Again as she grows 10x50's will be a lifetime investment but too much for any 7 year old I know.

I do strongly agree with the astronomy club star party. Attend often as that will add to her enjoyment then she can go home and try to find some of the things she saw there. Sometimes she'll succeed sometimes she won't. That's the life of amateur astronomy. Though I doubt you'll see much equipment suited for a 7 year old the experience will greatly help her interest as she grows into the hobby and can handle larger scopes on her own. Having to have a parent run the scope kills interest very fast. They need something they can haul out when they want to and not wait for mommy or daddy to do it for them. There's plenty for such a small scope to show them. We see a few that age brought to our star parties. Often a member will have a scope their child has outgrown and it will then find a new home. Maybe that will happen for you. Often the only cost is the promise to pass it on when that child outgrows it.

Just like clothes, expect to get new ones as they grow. Fortunately that's a lot "cheaper" in real dollars than it was when my parents were doing this for me.

Some things though can stick for years, a good star atlas, a good pair of binoculars, higher quality eyepieces than those that come with beginner scopes are examples I still have from when I was 8 years old and still use now that I've been retired for many years.

If she is also interested in bird watching or other earthly viewing a 60mm spotting telescope is also a good choice for a beginner and more rugged so takes more abuse. Some kids need this ability to take abuse, something a reflector can't. Others can use a reflector just fine. Today's typical astronomical 60mm refractors are on such poor mounts they are something to avoid, they used to be great for kids. If you find one from the 50's or 60's in a garage sale (I've found several for my grand kids over the years) they are good for that age as well though you might have to spring for a better eyepiece or two.