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FirstScope – Review August 28, 2009

Posted by Treehopper in astronomy, review.
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The Celestron FirstScope proves that cheap doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap.”

With 2009 being the International Astronomical Union’s “International Year of the Telescope” (commemorating the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first attempts at turning the newly discovered telescope toward the heavens), the astronomy community has been all abuzz over various products and projects that bear the official “stamp” of the event.  One of these products is the FirstScope, produced and distributed by Celestron.   When it originally rolled out, it was priced at a modest $50 or thereabouts.  Not horrible as telescopes go, but enough to keep budget-minded fence-sitters like me at bay.

Then, the e-mail arrived.



Ode to the Small Scope August 23, 2009

Posted by Treehopper in astronomy, equipment, opinion.
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Maybe I’m just a sucker for the underdog.  Maybe I’ve never quite gotten over that tendency to be an underachiever.  Or maybe it’s just the allure of not using the biggest and best equipment and still enjoying my astronomy habit.  But I’m usually in the vocal minority of folks who routinely defend and champion the smaller aperture telescopes.

I’ve seen it happen time and time again.  A neophyte would-be astronomer comes asking one of the very first questions a newbie always asks when in the company of more learned folk.  “How do I select a new telescope?”  And it seems as though as sure as night follows day the majority will rise up chanting the near-universal mantra, “Aperture is king!  Buy the biggest thing you can afford!”  And more often than not, what they mean by this is, “Get a Dobsonian reflector!  Dobs rule!  I wouldn’t let my ugliest, smelliest dog sit on anything less than a 8-inch Dob!”

“I remind myself that the likes of Galileo, Newton, or Messier didn’t have even an 8″ Dob to accomplish the deeds for which they are so highly regarded and fondly remembered these centuries hence”

Galileo must have left his 12 Dob at home...

Galileo must have left his 12" Dob at home...