Posted By Dennis Freeman
I think it important that we don't get something cheap from a dept. store or where the aperture is less than 4". I know from reading that we should not expect to see images like photographs, but I guess I want to impress my son to stimulate his interest.
Portability is a must. Our back yard is suburban Chicago and the view is blocked by large trees. I suspect anytime we want to use it we will have to travel. Also we go on family camping trips by car(probably great for dark skies) and occasionally fly out west. It would be great if we could bring the scope with us.
Budget is around $1000-1200, but this must include all the extras-case, extra eyepieces, barlow, etc. New or used, that is the question. Nice thing about used, you usually get a lot a ancillary equipment and can get a complete package for relatively low cost. New, you know what you're getting but can't get as much for the same money.
I think don't believe a refractor is doable because of the portability issue. I've seen a couple of 6"ers by Meade or Celestron on Ebay, but they look as big as cannons and definately not portable. I'm not sure if 8" reflectors are also too big (don't forget about all that camping gear).
That leaves me with SCTs, MCs, or 5-6" reflectors. Some level of GOTO would be nice, but I don't want something that totally takes the learning out of the cycle. I think it will be important to be able to be able to see alot without too much work/time between images to keep my son's interest going. Like most 9 years, his attention span is limited and like many people nowadays wants immediate gradification. I want to try to use his interest to help show him that if you want something you have to work for it, but not make it too ardrous (sp?).
Meade and Celestron seem to have the most selection and are the "big name brands" for the mass market. My impression of Meade is that they have good optics but cheap construction. Celestron optics don't get praised as much as Meade, but construction may be durable, i.e. more metal parts. Any opinions?
Any thoughts or comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.