Dear Santa

When I was 11 years old, 12 years old, and 13 years old I asked for, hoped and prayed I would get a telescope for Christmas. I didn’t specify – any telescope would do! It didn’t have to be that 525x beauty I had seen in the new Christmas catalog, but hey, that would work. Well, no telescope arrived under the tree. I stopped asking.

The next Christmas I get…a microscope! What?! My mom really didn’t know the difference. In those days I didn’t think about exchanging and ultimately did not want to embarrass mom. Don’t get me wrong, the microscope was cool, and I spent many enjoyable hours examining animalcules with it.

Parents, if your child asks for a telescope and you intend to grant said child’s request…get a good telescope!

Don’t get a telescope because the manufacturer or seller boasts it’s a “high power” model. The 525x telescope advertised in our Christmas catalog would have been disappointing. Its 60mm objective would have been good for 120x before things got dim and fuzzy. Sure, it could get to 525x, but objects wouldn’t stay in the field of view for more than a second (if that) and they would be very dark and fuzzy.

The saying “they don’t build them like that anymore” is a good thing when referring to today’s crop of affordable telescopes. They build them better today – in general. Yes, today’s telescopes have way more plastic, but it’s mostly strong plastic. And there are many good quality telescopes to choose from.

Here are some quality manual, non-computerized telescopes – IN STOCK at the time of this article for beginner and intermediate level.


  • Orion Fun Scope ( Tabletop 76mm mirror telescope, 2 eyepieces and barlow $100
  • Orion SkyScanner: Tabletop 100mm mirror, 2 eyepieces                                                    $130
  • Orion SpaceProbe II: 76mm mirror, AZ mount, tripod, 2 eyepieces, 2x barlow                            $130
  • Orion Observer II 70mm AZ: Refractor, tripod, 2 eyepieces, barlow, Moon map, planisphere $130
  • Orion GrandView 80mm Spotting Scope: Zoom 20-60x, tabletop tripod $150
  • Meade Infinity 70mm AZ ( Refractor, tripod, 2 eyepieces, 2x barlow               $165
  • Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ ( 70mm refractor, tripod; 2 eyepieces        $190


  • Celestron StarSense*Explorer ( 80mm Refractor, AZ mount, tripod, 2 eyepieces $230
  • Celestron StarSense*Explorer ( 114mm mirror, AZ mount, tripod, 2 eyepieces $240
  • Orion VersaGo E-Series: 90mm Refractor, AZ mount, tripod, 2 eyepieces                  $260
  • Sky-Watcher Dobsonian ( 150mm mirror, Dobsonian AZ mount, 2 eyepieces $460
  • Celestron StarSense*Explorer ( 130mm mirror, AZ mount, tripod, 2 eyepieces $479

*StarSense is a Celestron app for your smartphone. It helps you place your telescope on celestial objects.


Next week I will give a list of motorized & computerized telescopes.


What’s in the Sky?

November 6, 2am – Daylight Savings Time ENDS

November 8: A total eclipse of the Moon. Partial phase begins at 3:09 am, totality begins at 4:16 am

November 10 & 11; 7-8pm; east-northeast: A bright Moon is on either side of Mars