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How to Choose a Telescope for a Child

Posted by Ryan DeLange on

Apart from the romantic aspects of owning a telescope (the mysteries of the universe and our place in it), there are practical benefits for children too: increased scientific curiosity, hands-on experience with the principles of physics, a sense of reward for patience, study, and action.

What a great gift that a child can experience - all without leaving the backyard!

This guide will help you choose the right telescope for a child. Let’s explore what type of telescope is the best gift for your situation.

You might first want to read this in-depth article about the types of telescopes.

Telescope Recommendations for Different Age Groups

Telescopes for young children - Aged 4-5

Children this young are not up late at night, especially not out in the yard under the stars. They are developing dexterity and they enjoy sensory and tactile stimulation. These children require a light-weight, simple design that can also be used for seeing during the daytime. They need a small refractor telescope, specially built for little ones, that doesn’t need a lot of assembly each time it is used.

Telescopes for Children in the Early Grades - Aged 6-8

These children are interested in discovery and exploration of the outdoors. They have an increased ability to concentrate and are driven to learn skills. They are beginning to use logic and will appreciate some choice in their telescope set-up.

A complete telescope kit is best. It is important to buy a refractor telescope so that the child does not have to adjust or clean the optics. 50 to 70 mm of aperture will be enough to explore the moon and some planets. An equatorial mount is probably not a good idea in this age range, so choose an altazimuth mount.

Some simple astronomy exploration materials, such as a planisphere or star chart may be well-received.

Telescopes for Older Children - Aged 9-12

Children of this age are looking for ways to use their more complex thinking skills and are developing an interest in the technical and abstract. A bit higher quality instrument with a wider aperture is in order. Higher quality telescopes also allow the flexibility to upgrade or add on accessories later.

Refractor telescopes with 70-90mm apertures are a good bet, but you may opt for a Newtonian reflector to get some additional aperture for a similar price. Consider an equatorial mount to allow tracking of objects across the sky. Remember Newtonian designs and equatorial mounts require a bit of fuss, so these would only make a good gift for a child who has already shown interest in astronomy or technical pursuits.

Telescopes for Teenagers

If the teen in question has no experience and has shown no interest in astronomy, opt for one of the recommendations in the Aged 9-12 category. If the teenager has shown eagerness to have a telescope, then he or she may want to be part of the decision. Together, you could read this guide to choosing a telescope.

Remember, whatever telescope you choose, there is a much higher likelihood that the child will be successful and feel a sense of gratification if an adult takes a helpful role in using the telescope. Also, young children definitely need supervision at all times when using a telescope.

If you would like some further help, don't hesitate to contact us.

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Great Telescope Company

I thought my ED80 Triplet was nice but this ED102 FCD100 is awesome. Delivery and customer service was excellent.

Nice Apo and a Real Value

I bought this scope for an industrial client whose needs are industrial, not astronomical, and this Explore Scientific ED127 is intended to be a beam expander in various Interferometric testing setups. For this, optical quality must be high and the carbon fiber tube is a plus for thermal stability. My purchase of the Explore Scientific ED127 F7.5 APO Triplet through Telescope Space was straightforward and pleasant. Ryan made sure everything was smooth.
Upon receipt I tested the scope by looking at a power pole 700 feet away, one that I have used for many such tests. The star test from the insulator glints was good – the focus snap was crisp, the in-focus diffraction blur was round with a faint first ring. I did not look at the through focus balance with a narrow passband filter as it was obvious there was no SA3. Color correction is very good as you would expect with the glasses used. There is no color in focus, and only a hint of subtle color fringing in the just out of focus edges of details. Extended details on the pole were rendered as well as, or better than, with any similar scope I have used on this target – this includes TMB, Astrophysics, and Takahashi scopes.
The build quality of the carbon parts is gorgeous. The metal parts are good quality anodized machined. I would prefer machined tube rings as the cast ones supplied are a little chintzy compared to the rest of the scope. The rack and pinion focuser works well, but the feel is not as good as some stock friction focusers I’ve used. Considering the extra high weight capacity of the focuser the feel may be the price paid. Overall I think the mechanical appearance and function is in line with the price.
I would certainly consider the Explore Scientific ED APO FCD100 triplet scopes for my personal use. My transaction with Telescope Space was great and I will do business with them again.

Review on Firstlight AR 102mm f9.8 on EXOS NANO EQ3

A great package for the price! The mount is steady! The Optics excel, in that the resolution and contrast are everything to be expected in a quality refractor! H.B. Appleton, Hi.

The staff at Telescope Space were very supportive and helpful as well!

Astrozap Dew Heater Strap for Telescope

Workd good on my C8 telescope after connecting a standand 12v powertank connector

Explore Scientific Mak Cas 152 with EXOS2GT MOUNT

I did considerable shopping around and finally decided to buy my 152 Mak from Telescope Space. Ryan was very helpful with all my questions concerning Explore Scientific and my specific purchase. After a short period using my scope and mount, the mount seemed to have more play than it should have. Ryan had the Explore Scientific owner call me directly, where he immediately offered to exchange my mount. He also had the factory ship out the new mount while I was still using my original unit. Excellent service and sales support from both Ryan at Telescope Space and Explore Scientific. I will buy again from Telescope Space!