If your child’s newest hobby is astronomy, you will eventually need to invest in a good children’s telescope. A telescope doesn’t have to be expensive to get them started but buying one may still prove to be a little confusing.
You will get terms thrown at you like reflector and refractor, magnification specifications, eyepiece sizes, mirrors vs. lenses, and mounts. Confused yet, I thought so. Don’t worry, though, with a little research and talking to a professional you should be able to make a telescope purchase that will allow your child to expand his or her knowledge of outer space without much difficulty.
The two basic types of telescopes are reflector telescopes and refractor telescopes. Reflector telescopes have mirrors that capture the light from an image. The image is magnified through the tube of the telescope and then you can see it more clearly through the eyepiece. One disadvantage with the mirrors is you may see more than one of the object you are looking at, usually overlapping each other.
Refractor telescopes use lenses instead of mirrors to capture the image and magnify it. The problem with lens use is that there may be color variations called chromatic aberrations due to flaws in the making of the lenses. Either type of telescope will do for a first children’s telescope, though, and if they stay interested in astronomy then you can purchase a better telescope for them.
You will also find there are different magnifications for telescopes and will depend on the size of the telescope you are interested in buying. The telescope itself will have it’s magnification built right in. The difference is in the eyepieces. A professional will tell you you should buy two eyepieces each with a different magnification so your child can see things one with a lower magnification and one with a higher magnification.
The lower magnification eyepiece can then be used just to locate the object of interest and then higher magnification eyepiece can be use to get a closer, clearer view of the object.
Last, but not least, is the telescope mount. The mount is important to keep the telescope steady when you look through it. Mounts can be as simple as a tripod or a more elaborate circular mount that allows you to set the telescope right on a table. The more stable the telescope the more enjoyment you will get out of using it.
Start by showing your child the moon then move on to the constellations and other things like double stars or other formations of stars you both find interesting. There is no shortage of things to see in outer space. If you find you need help or want to learn more you can go online to find star charts or other materials about astronomy that will help in your child’s education. Take your child to a musuem. They are an excellent resource to learn more about space exploration and astronomy.
So, do not let all the scientific mumbo jumbo get you all flustered and confused. Just focus on which type of telescope and it’s magnification, two decent eyepieces and a good sturdy mount for purchasing your children’s telescope.