Telescopes are not Toys

What to do?  Your 7 year old has the hots, not for a video game, not for an action figure. The kid wants a telescope and is driving you nuts. This time of year is perfect for marketing 101 students – just put stuff out there, make it look awesome, and kids will make the sales pitch. You become hostage to and beneficiary of a constant drone of wants, and needs.

Well, that’s fine for the mundane things, but when a telescope becomes the object of desire, your life gets more complicated. Where to start? If your nascent astronomer already has a specific telescope in mind, start there. That is your basis for determining how serious the kid is. Think about “A Christmas Story”. Ralphie was fixated on that Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model (with a compass in its stock) air rifle. That was his basis, but I suspect there was little to no room for negotiation. He knew that air rifle inside and out even though he didn’t have it…yet. He already knew how he was going to use that beautiful tool.

So, consider yourself lucky if you get a request for a specific telescope. That probably means your young astronomer has done the homework for you. Your next step is to take that information and find out if what is wanted is the best choice. You’re not off the hook completely. Certainly, ask your astronomer to give you details about the telescope, copies of advertisements, and vendors selling it. Unlike BB-guns, telescope configurations can get complex and expensive quickly. Your job in this case is to learn what you can, ask questions – send us (the New Braunfels Astronomy Club) questions in an email Come to Astronomy Night at Tye Preston Memorial Library, loaded with that telescope information. We will give you our honest assessment.

A major hiccup here, however, is if your astronomer wants a telescope based on how cool it looks vs knowing about it. That can lead to the purchase of a telescope that the young astronomer gets frustrated with and stops trying to use.

Potentially the most trying scenario is your budding astronomer wants a telescope but doesn’t have one in mind. That could take more time to sort out. The important thing is to ask questions, get them to somehow give you a hint. If they don’t know you don’t know. But it can be OK if they are not specific. You then have the choice of many telescopes. The downside is…you have the choice of many telescopes. Sorting through the options can be daunting.

Telescopes are not Toys, but some manufacturers make toys and sell them as telescopes.

Unfortunately, even reputable companies sell telescopes that should never have seen the dark of night. With that in mind, I will start posting on our website telescopes we as a club agree are good and on the facebook group Astronomy Friends New Braunfels.

Starting this week I will post a couple of good telescopes in this article, for your consideration.

What’s in the Sky?

November 18th; 6:30 pm: Astronomy Night at Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake. The astronomy club and library will be dedicating the donated telescope and mount from Trisha Stevens (Bob Keyser’s wife) to the memory of Bob Keyser who is now a universal spirit, keeping an eye on us.