Telescopes for kids

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  • Member since
    November, 2013
Telescopes for kids
Posted by richards1052 on Monday, November 11, 2013 6:37 PM

Please excuse if this topic has been raised before, but I have a precocious 8 year old who would love to get his first telescope.  Can you recommend one for us?  None of the family have an astronomy background, so we'd like an easy to maintain entry-level model that is of high quality.

  • Member since
    November, 2009
Posted by Poppa Chris on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 9:14 AM

Why not check out this link:

For an 8 yr old, I would tend towards the refractor so there won't be any of the collimation adjustment issues that come up with Newtonian reflectors if they are handled a bit roughly. If the scope won't be knocked around, then go with the largest aperture that fits your budget. The "starter kits" come with some pretty handy accessories such as a star chart/finder that will be a lot of help too.

---Poppa Chris---

Denham Springs, Louisiana USA

"Second star to the right - Then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

Celestron CPC1100GPS (XLT) - 279mm aperature, 2800mm Focal length. (f10) Celestron Ultima LX (70deg AFOV) Eyepieces 32mm thru 5mm, Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, Backyard EOS imaging software, Orion Star Shoot Planetary Imager IV, Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars


  • Member since
    March, 2008
Posted by Antitax on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 11:20 AM

   Ditto what Poppa Chris tells; choose a refractor, they're more efficient than reflectors and easier to use. My brother and I started with a 40mm spotter, later I got a 50mm refractor, I currently own a 60mm refractor that I restored, my largest binoculars are 70mm, and my "real", or "adult" refractor is an 80mm. Plus I made a 90mm off-axis mask that turns our club's 280mm scope into a 90mm when needed.

   From these comparisons, I'd say do not take a scope smaller than 70mm. You're looking into darkness, choose the largest lens you can afford and the kid can handle, a scope never gathers too much light in the dark.  

TS 8x40 Wildlife, 10x50 Marine/Fujinon 16x70/TS 80mm triplet, 6x30 finder, EQ-3 mount, TS 2" 99% diagonal/Celestron C5+ and 6x30 finder, DIY tripod/5" Bahtinov/12" GSO dob, 8x50 finder/Meade 2" 24mm 82°/Hyperion 24,13,10mm 68°/TS Expanse 17mm 70°/SW 7mm Panorama 82°/Ultima 2x barlow/Astronomik UHC-E filter/Baader O-III/Astro Solar 5" & 80mm filters/Sky Atlas 2000/Rükl's Moon Atlas/Canon 400D/5mW green laser

  • Member since
    October, 2005
Posted by leo731 on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 5:21 PM

I agree that a 60 to 90mm refractor is often a good choice for a starter scope.  I do not know how much money you want to spend or your 8 year old's fervor for a telescope.  If you have the money it would not be a bad idea to get a 6" Dobsonian Mounted Newtonian Reflector.  Kids these days are a lot more technologically savvy than we were at that age.  The larger diameter scope will give very nice views on a whole range of objects, far better than a small refractor, and yet this type of scope is easy for anyone to use. 

On the other side of the coin I bought my sister last year a small table top reflector from Celestron which proved to be quite well made and fun to use for less than $100.  If your child proves adept at astronomy and wants continue you can purchase a larger scope later on a future Christmas.

Please do not buy a scope from places like Walmart or Costco.  The vast majority of these Christmas scopes are poorly built with lots of plastic, middling lenses (or mirrors), and horrible mounts.  A poorly mounted (supported) telescope is not a joy to use.  Telescope shops generally sell superior equipment built to last.  Orion, Scope City, and Opt come to mind but there are many other outlets.

Lastly do you have a pair of binoculars at home?  They make for an entertaining and easy way to scout out the sky and learn where things are. 

Good luck to you,


A nebula in the eyepiece is worth two in the Atlas.

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