Gazing at the stars has always been a favorite pastime. Originally the domain of scientists, modern technology and manufacturing techniques have made high powered lenses and intricate construction affordable and accessible to anyone. Many families have made astronomy a family hobby that they enjoy with their children. It is also common for grandparents to give the first telescope to their grandchildren, and then spend time looking at the night sky with them.
There are many different kinds of telescopes. They range from basic hand held models, to sextants used by sailors navigating the seas, and complex versions that allow for excellent visibility and long range viewing of stars and planets. There are even sturdy, colorful plastic ones that allow the very youngest to have a chance to see what’s up there in the sky. With a price and product for everyone, this popular hobby is easily enjoyed.
1. 6″ Handheld Brass Telescope with Wooden Box
With all the recent popularity of pirates in the movies, and with the certainty that the fascination with pirates almost never fades, this antique styled telescope is sure to please any young would be pirate. This scope will magnify to 3x and extend to 6 inches long. It also fully retracts to fit inside its storage box, which is lined in blue. The metal is brass, the handle is leather. Most families who own this say that it is great for elementary school age kids, or adults who love to play pirate, too!
2. Hampton Nautical Captain’s Spyglass Telescope
The lens is glass and magnifies up to 10x. The spyglass is solid brass and the box is sold rosewood. At 15 inches long, the manufacturer recommends this product for ages 5 up to 10. Customers offer mixed reviews about how difficult it can be for some children to hold the telescope and manage to adjust it as well. Many felt it was much better as home décor rather than a toy.
3. Mark 15 Sextant
Sextants are the sailor’s traditional version of a telescope, and they functioned very much like one in terms of their ability to scan the night skies for stars. They provided navigation points above the horizon, guiding ancient mariners over the seas. Some youngsters who are avid sailors or fond of sea faring adventure tales will prefer learning about the skies this way. This ancient navigational tool may open a lifetime of sailing for young astronomers. It comes with a complete instruction manual. This has received many excellent reviews from customers who own it.
4. Orion 10019 SkyQuest XT10i IntelliScope Dobsonian Telescope
This amazing scope has many features that make it top quality including state of the art eyepieces, a sturdy wood base, precise adjustment knobs and friction spring controls that keep it steady while viewing. But one of the best things for young astronomers is that it has a computer databank with over fourteen thousand star celestial locations. That means that anyone can find these locations to a pinpoint and effortlessly. It’s no wonder that the manufacturer has more on the way as the product is selling quickly without regard for its high price. It is receiving high marks across the board from the majority of owners.
5. Celestron 114LCM Computerized Telescope
This black telescope has received many positive reviews from owners who bought it to start out as new hobbyist astronomers. They were happy that its computer program allows them to find many things in our solar system fairly easily. But, some people did have trouble with setting up, and others with more experience were hoping for views of things farther away. Most owners were not happy with the need for batteries. It seems to use them very quickly, so owners figured out ways to set up external charging systems when out in the field. It is also selling very quickly with more on the way from the manufacturer, as it is quite popular.
6. TwinStar AstroMark 50mm 75x Power Refractor Telescope
The attraction of this product is that it is very easy to use. Most people are able to see views of many popular celestial objects very quickly after taking it out of the box. It is a refracting type, with 50mm lens. The manufacturer has included a photo owner’s manual with clear steps to set it up. There is an aluminum tripod included, and the quality allows it to be used even with the city, when placed on rooftops or looking out from apartment balconies. Many have used it for bird watching or scanning the city skyline. Most cons noted had to do with the tripod, which some felt was flimsy.
7. Educational Insights Microscope and Telescope Set
The nice thing about this set is that it attracts youngsters interested in everything from microbiology to astronomy. Having these two high quality products will allow any young scientist to conduct experiments and gaze through the heavens; both handy when it comes to school science reports and fair projects. There are many safety features included that protect students from damaging the equipment. The buyers offered mixed reviews. Most felt it was best for a first set. Others wanted a higher level of sophistication. This is not designed to be for scientific level work, but rather for educational purposes.
8. Black Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Refractor Telescope
Advertised as for beginners, this scope is pretty much ready to go out of the box. It is so easy that it only takes four basic steps to set it up. For this reason, no instruction manual is included. It allows views of the moon, the Saturn rings, the Big Dipper, the planets in color, and plenty of star clusters. It is enough to delight most any first time star gazer. Owners who reviewed this product were very happy with it. It gives excellent value for a very nice price.
9. Jumbo Jungle Gym Plastic Telescope by Eastern
This sturdy plastic telescope is perfect for the very youngest stargazer. It has a fun jungle green color with bright yellow trim, and it is probably indestructible, in most cases. The short 12 inch length makes it easier for little ones to manage. It comes with the hardware necessary for its mounting stand, which is designed to add it as an accessory for a playhouse or a swing set.
Families that own this product say that it is perfect for imaginary play. The majority of them don’t mind that it doesn’t magnify as an authentic telescope would do. Those that want true magnification capabilities should not purchase this product. It is designed for preschool and Kindergarten children to pretend they are astronomers.
10. My First Lab Stargazer Telescope
This Amazon exclusive is an excellent choice for elementary school level new astronomers. It is built to be sturdy, with a strong tripod shaped base and legs made out of steel. It has optics that are higher quality. It comes with two different eyepieces and a Barlow lens that will magnify at a 2x level. Parents will need to help with the assembly, but there are instructions and a guide to the night sky is included. It has a variety of magnifications possible up to 150x. This product is probably best for amateurs who already have some experience with astronomy. Manufacturer’s recommendation is up to 8 years old.
Families who own this telescope have enjoyed looking at the stars and the planets. There are mixed reviews concerning problems with the instruction manual. There have been problems with no customer service support indicated anywhere on the packaging or the user manual. For families who have no previous experience with astronomy, this product was difficult for them to assemble and use.
Looking at the stars is a passion for many. Being able to introduce a child to this ages old quest can easily become part of the joy of parenting. Thankfully, there are scopes designed for the very young and increasing in sophistication for youngsters as their skills increase. The range of products reviewed here is designed to offer a look at what is possible for every age group from preschool through elementary school and even beyond. Star gazing is very likely to become a family venture very quickly once a telescope arrives.