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So you want to buy a telescope? (or just study the night sky)

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I suggest you 1st know the night sky and learn the constellations. Get a sky map, planisphere for you latitude, or some kind of sky chart. Get a red flashlight so that you don't loose your night vision every time you turn a light on (a regular flashlight with some red fingernail polish on the lens works too--adjust the amount of light by using fingernail polish remover). If you want to spend the money, get a laser pointer so that you can show each other what you are finding.

Lasers--see this post: http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2181141#poststop


Read some books. This is one of my favorites:



And I never go without this each year:



And this is free and wonderful: Stellarium



McAfee and Nortons might consider Stellarium a virus, so you might have to go in and add them to the list of things they don't have to worry about.




Look at the sky with a pair of binoculars. It is likely that you already have one.


Binocs--see this post: http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2176737#poststop


If you prefer something that looks like a telescope but sees about the same as a pair of binocs, the

Galileoscope is a good option. I prefer a pair of binocs with a tripod over this, but your child might be dying for a scope, and this is a nice option:




Read some books! This is one of my favorites which includes stuff to look for with binocs:





If you still are interested in a telescope, I'd suggest you visit an astronomy club. Look through their scopes. Ask questions. Then...here are some to consider:


I love the Dobsonians. Best telescope for the money imo. Here is the one I have:



It comes in a 4.5", 6", 8", 10"....and up.


You want a red dot finder or a telrad if it does not come with one--this is what I have and recommend highly:



Without a red dot finder, you will likely leave the scope in the basement or attic. Really. Don't ignore this.


You will need to collimate your Dob (get the mirrors lined up so that they reflect the light perfectly into your eyepiece). Ask what they recommend for a collimator. I have a good one, but you might not want to spend this much:




Most scopes come with a cap that is suppose to do the collimation...I've never used them. They are not as easy to use as a good collimator, but people make them work all the time, so you might be able to get by without buying something more. As I said, ask what they recommend.


If you don't want this big of a scope, if you want to use it to travel, if you want a smaller beginner scope, this is what I wrote someone today:


I called OPT today since so many folks have asked about small telescopes--these are the people I go to with my telescope questions when the astronomy club can't tell me what I need. They are #1 with customer service. I asked what beginner scope they would recommend for kids, for travel, small/compact (not the larger Dobsonian style scope), etc. The scope he loves the most is the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope:




He said it is the best quality for the money--good optics, good tripod, rugged enough to travel well.


It already has a red dot finder on it. You should ask if they recommend your buying a collimator...and you can get a padded case for it under the accessories if you want it.


And then there is always this Astroscan:




I've never used it, but some folks highly recommend it. It has the red dot finder and does not need collimation...but I'd get the tripod to go with it. Please if any of you own this, let me know what you think of it!!! :)




Read books. Sit in the isle at the book stores and thumb through the astronomy books to find something that suits you. There are lots of telescope books. The Starwatch (linked above) is a great place to start. There are lots of others that are really good, too.


Have I forgotten anything?


Blow those clouds away!!!


Edited by Jean in Wisc
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I wrote this in reply to a friend who has struggled to stay outside due to cold feet. Thought it might help someone here, too:


This is the type of boot I have:



They are suppose to be good for -40, but when we are just standing around, my feet are always cold. Sorel, Columbia...lots of boots have a good rating. I'd suggest you simply look at the temperature ratings of the boots and choose from one that is really good. Make sure your boots have PLENTY of wiggle room for your toes, and if you are going to wear wool socks, take them with you when trying them on. I prefer boots that have a fairly thick sole since the cold comes up from the ground when standing still for a long time.


The best invention since sliced bread, however, are foot warmers.



I find them in hardware stores, Farm 'n Fleet, sports stores...lots of places. Some stores have better prices on them then others (F&F is our best buy in my area). I like the foot warmers much better than the toe warmers. The foot warmers keep the cold from coming up through the soles of my boots. Just be certain that you have enough room to wear them without scrunching the toes. I usually wear my "normal" socks when wearing foot warmers and wool socks if I am not. BTW, I cannot stand wool against my skin, so I buy socks that have wool on the outside and cotton or some other fabric on the inside. Often they are advertised as socks that help wick the moisture away from your feet.


BTW, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS put on a fresh pair of dry socks before going outside. Damp feet are freezing-cold-can't-stay-outside-one-more-minute feet. Sometimes I find the warmers on sale near the end of the winter and stock up on them big time.


I do have some toe warmers and I often use hand warmers--my kids stock up on hand warmers for hunting.


Hope this helps y'all! :)Jean

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