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Where to get stargazing equipment and advice in Canberra?

By longshanks - 19 June 2012 19

My kids are obsessed with all things astronomical at the moment, and I’d like to look into getting some basic gear to enable them (and me for that matter) to do a bit of stargazing.

Anyone know where I can pick up some basic equipment, and, more to the point, get some advice from someone local who really knows their stuff?

Any thoughts/recommendations would be much appreciated – thanks in advance!

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Where to get stargazing equipment and advice in Canberra?
shirty_bear 8:26 pm 19 Jun 12

Hi John – would have been fine, but OP has claimed it … sorry.

johnmd 4:57 pm 19 Jun 12

Hi Shirty-bear

I’d be happy to take it off your hands if your generous offer still stands?

Cheers, John

longshanks 2:57 pm 19 Jun 12

Thanks all for the advice – we live in Weston Creek, so might pop over to Stromlo this Friday evening.

SigmaOctantis 2:54 pm 19 Jun 12

Hi,
I’ve bought a lot of gear from the guys at Bintel in Sydney (http://www.bintel.com.au/).
They sell telescopes for all levels of enthusiasm, and offer advice on what’s best to buy, I can recommend giving them a call to talk to someone in the know.

In my opinion you should consider either a 100mm refractor or a 150mm reflector to get some great views and for relatively little money. The telescopes you see in National Geographic would be OK for kids who might lose interest after the first look, but you really shouldn’t get a telescope with an aperture (width of lens or mirror) less than that mentioned above. Plus you don’t need all the bells and whistles (drives etc) for the mount, a simple ‘altazimuth’ mount would be perfectly fine. The mass produced scopes tend to focus (no pun intended) on fancy bells and whistles and it’s really quality of optics you should be going for.

I think giving bintel a call and seeing what they have in that aperture range and the price would be a great start, you can also get a feel from their website.

Cheers.

Gungahlin Al 2:48 pm 19 Jun 12

CrocodileGandhi said :

Don’t know about price, but National Geographic usually has a couple of scopes sitting in their window. As far as adivce goes, RiotACT’s own Gungahlin Al seems to be quite the stargazing buff. I’d suggest getting in contact with him.

Cheers. Happy to help. And let me start by saying do not go to Australian Geographic shops, or other such stores. You can get much better service and prices from places like http://www.ozscopes.com.au/ and http://www.bintel.com.au/
E.g. ordered scope from Ozscope 4pm one day, delivered one huge box 9am next day.

Madam Cholet is right – Star Walk and some binoculars can get you a long way.

To go further, come along to the public viewing night at Mt Stromlo this Friday from 7pm, dependent on weather of course. I’ll be there. Or you could call me on 0408 771633 outside work hours.

We have one of these: http://www.ozscopes.com.au/dobsonian-telescope-saxon-8inch.html
But time over I’d get this: http://www.ozscopes.com.au/dobsonian-telescope-saxon-collapsible-8-inch.html just because for $50 more the more compact packing would help with transport a lot. A 6″ will also get you a lot of decent viewing: http://www.ozscopes.com.au/dobsonian-telescope-saxon-6inch.html Key thing is, you don’t buy something so small you can’t see anything much other than the moon.

Just starting with the photography, but some early examples:
http://alankerlin.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/its-transit-of-venus-day-we-have-clear.html
http://alankerlin.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/my-transit-of-venus-ingress-photos.html

johnboy 2:44 pm 19 Jun 12

The point is that their is good quality gear available for less than the stores are charging

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:42 pm 19 Jun 12

johnboy said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

johnboy said :

I am told it is very, very important to never buy a telescope from a store which isn’t a dedicated astronomy store.

Why?

My reading online suggested that you can get much better telescopes online and that every telescope in a general store is awful.

At least that’s the opinion of online telescope nerds.

I suspect it’s one of those hobbies where a rank amateur (e.g. me) could have a ‘normal’ telescope and be quite happy with it, but once you get into it a bit you realise that the basic kit is crap and you need something better.

Kinda like any serious hobby, I guess.

johnboy 2:29 pm 19 Jun 12

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

johnboy said :

I am told it is very, very important to never buy a telescope from a store which isn’t a dedicated astronomy store.

Why?

My reading online suggested that you can get much better telescopes online and that every telescope in a general store is awful.

At least that’s the opinion of online telescope nerds.

shirty_bear 2:19 pm 19 Jun 12

Pretty sure there’s an old-ish fully manual telescope (that’s as accurately as I can describe it) somewhere at the back of the bear cave. Yours gratis if you want to come to Scullin to collect it.
If so, drop me a line at biddle at rabbitohs.zzn.com.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:15 pm 19 Jun 12

johnboy said :

I am told it is very, very important to never buy a telescope from a store which isn’t a dedicated astronomy store.

Why?

johnboy 2:08 pm 19 Jun 12

I am told it is very, very important to never buy a telescope from a store which isn’t a dedicated astronomy store.

Disinformation 2:05 pm 19 Jun 12

If you’re an android phone user, Google Sky is the equivalent. I used to use Home Planet by John Walker which is also free. It includes a sky map and telescope steering interface, but is XP vintage.

Canberra Astronomical Society would be the single best possible starting point anyway. I’m sure someone there will give you a squizz through one (or several) of their toys if you have an interest.

http://www.mso.anu.edu.au/cas/

Deref 2:04 pm 19 Jun 12

I’ve got a 4.5″ Newtonian reflector that I don’t use any more. Let me know if you’re interested in making an offer.

CrocodileGandhi 1:49 pm 19 Jun 12

Don’t know about price, but National Geographic usually has a couple of scopes sitting in their window. As far as adivce goes, RiotACT’s own Gungahlin Al seems to be quite the stargazing buff. I’d suggest getting in contact with him.

Madam Cholet 1:46 pm 19 Jun 12

Got an iphone? If so, download an app called Star Walk – 5 Stars Astronomy Guide. Point it at the night sky and it will tell you what you are looking at.

The wait until your mother in law bizarrely buys you a telescope – that’s what happened in our house. Seriously though – it’s a great hobby for the kids – if not a bit chilly at the moment! Good luck.

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