Tracey Shooter wrote:My daughter (aged 8) has requested a telescope for Christmas. She is interested in looking at planets and stars (obviously.) I have been to a local supplier who has advised the Skywatcher Startravel 102 SynScan AZ GOTO Telescope. Is this the best piece of kit for an absolute beginner? Obviously at age 8 they want to see things pretty clear and pretty close. Can anyone offer any advice? This is stargazing for dummies (us, not her)
Hi and welcome
It's a pretty good recommendation, but not necessarily for an 8 year old, as I'd suggest it'll need quite a lot of adult assistance to get the most out of it, and I think we'd all rather that she wasn't dependent on you to enjoy her hobby
In terms of the telescope itself, I think that is pretty good, as 4" is a reasonable aperture for looking at star clusters etc.
It's the mount that is likely to be more than your daughter will be up to at this stage - to get the most out of a GOTO mount, it needs to be levelled and aligned, which takes a bit of care and familiarisation. When aligned, you then need to be careful not to knock the tripod as that will throw the alignment out etc, and that sort of discipline can be hard for a youngster.
The GOTO sounds tempting, but many of the objects in the computer are quite faint, so may not be visible - particularly if you live in a town or suburb with less than great skies.
Having to keep fresh batteries to hand can also be a pain.
I would suggest something more like this https://www.tringastro.co.uk/sky-watche ... -445-p.asp
It's got a larger aperture, so will capture more light, and your daughter will be able to take it out into the garden and set it up herself without needing your attention.
It's significantly less expensive, so maybe you could buy a better quality eyepiece to go with it - the higher power eyepieces that come with telescopes tend to be not great, and buying a better quality one (for £60-70) can make it much more satisfying. I'd also suggest getting a planisphere and a book like "Turn Left at Orion" to suggest targets for your daughter to look at.
Hope this helps