In the world of amateur astronomy, you’re never going to be able to get anything near the majesty of images taken by the Hubble space telescope, if thats what you’re looking for, lower you’re expectations Danny or stay inside on the internet. Nay, the benefit of a home telescope (though teenage boys may disagree) is being able to gaze at the stars and know that is the actual light created on the back of nuclear fusion from those stars, having traveled thousands of light years only to interact with the atoms in your retina, sending a chemical/electric current into your brain where under a majesty of parallel/analog computation it is interpreted as an point of flickering light, you’re hippocampus floods your brain with chemicals that you understand as awe.
The COSMOS branded Celestron isn’t just crappy marketing. This is probably the cheapest telescope worth getting and it’s decent enough for a kid to enjoy. Finding things in a telescope can be quite difficult and will take some practice if you’ve never done it before, for thousands of dollars you can buy a telescope that automatically finds anything by pulling it up on a cellphone, but if you have thousands of dollars I’m not going to risk telling you what to spend it on. If you don’t have thousands of dollars, this is a good place to start. You’re not going to see planets well in this guy, but its a start.
This kit can turn your Celestron COSMOS FirstScope into a little bit better telescope. With this kit you should be able to make out a few of the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. This allows you to budget for a more expensive telescope by buying it in pieces, one for Christmas, one for birthday, cause budgeting is a bitch. I sure hope this guy comes with instructions, I think you hook that thingy on that other thingy, if it doesn’t, let me know and we’ll figure it out together and then delete this run on sentence.
Ok… so apparently you mastered that bitch of budgeting… Ok, well… this guy is a little better than The COSMOS + AstroMaster for essentially the same price. Jeez, spoil your kid a bit and buy’em somethin freakin awesome. From what I hear the tripod is pretty useless and you’ll be sure not to breath on it while looking through it or it will start shaking too much to see anything. I don’t know what to do about that, it doesn’t look like you can detatch it and put it on a camera tripod, I think I would get a couple bench weights and hang them from the center of the tripod if it seemed like there was a problem.
Now really, looking at planets through home telescopes is fairly disappointing since the launch of Hubble, Saturn will look like Saturn if you shrunk it down to ant sized and stepped on it. Many people can’t handle such disappointment and rather just look at awesome NASA pictures online. If thats the case, teaching your kid how to find their way around the sky is a great way to impress a girl on a date, we all want our kids to be boss daters. Then they can do that move where they get their heads really close and try and point out a constellation… anyhow, a pair of decent binoculars IS important for star gazing.
Of course if you’ve never been star gazing before, you’ll want a guide… and this is the guide you’ll want if you’re anything close to a begginer. You ever wanted to try crack? Well, here you go, I’ll hook you on something more addictive and more expensive, AND you’ll thank me when you’ve spent your life savings on this habit. Actually, this is the place to start. If you and your kid are beginners, get this first and spend a few nights sleeping on the trampoline before you decide what you want next.
NightWatch: A Practical Guid to Viewing the Universe
You’ll want a red flashlight so you don’t ruin your night vision while looking at this book in the dark. If you want a cheaper place to start because that book is a little expensive and only comes in hardcover, theres an Android app and an iPhone app for that.
Now go forth and observe the unnerving wonders of the universe.