Don’t stay at home! Neophyte’s guide to Grab and Go telescopes
It’s surprising to know that there are a lot of people interested in space science, Moon and stars. This can easily be observed by studying sales figures for telescopes and related equipment around the world. A significant portion of this target market is genuinely interested in getting to know how astronomy works, yet there are a considerable amount of people who just do it out of curiosity or as a hobby.
The purpose behind doing this doesn’t really matter to the companies who make such equipment, as long as sales keeps coming. However, the nature of required equipment varies according to the purpose of the operation.
Hence a good knowledge of telescopes is mandatory before actually sitting out at night and admiring the worlds beyond planet Earth.
The following is a discussion about what the market distinguish as Grab and Go telescopes.
Essential Features of a Grab and Go Telescope
Not each time you plan to sit out to observe how the universe works you have the energy or the time to manage a normal telescope. Such situations call for a telescope that is smaller in size, enabling it to be portable.
People who are just part time astronomers would definitely not appreciate massive telescopical structures that require a great deal of effort to be operated. Hence the first feature that a grab ‘n go telescope should have is a manageable size and weight.
Also the design should be framed in a way that allows the base to stand firm on different structures like tables or on the ground. Most of the people who buy small telescopes merely use it for fun or just do it every once in a while. They do not want a structure that is too difficult to handle or requires too many supports due to lack of technical knowledge.
Another thing a grab and go telescope should not have is a big mount. Although good for vision and delicate observations, it is asking too much from someone who is a part timer with telescopes. Also, it would only take 20 minutes to set up such machines, which put a massive constraint on the time available. A grab and go telescope should thus have an easy to use Altazimuth mount.
Another thing to look out for is the tube length. A good grab and go refractor has an aperture between 60 mm and 100 mm with a focal ratio of f/8 or less. This keeps tube’s length to 40-60 cm and weight to a range of 2 to 5 kg.
Accessories are also part of the telescope package. It is usually recommended to keep two different eyepieces that differs in terms of visibility; one offers high power vision whilst the other provides low power. This will allow effective comparisons to be made, listing down key findings that were made in different situations.
An OIII filter is a very good choice if you live under heavily polluted skies. It will help you see through the ominous dark clouds of chemical waste and pollutants.
There are various different refractors offered in the market. Some of them are short tube refractors that works well under clear skies but when used on foggy and misty nights, tends to show the moon and stars as purple dots. Also, they might produce halos when used with achromatic lens.
To deal with such problems, look for low dispersion lenses that uses apochromatic inputs and reduces false halos. These lenses come with a focal ratio of f/8, which makes them extremely useful for critical observations.
When it comes down to aperture the user usually has to balance a trade off between size and budget, because an aperture of more than 100 mm becomes too long and heavy to use, while an aperture of less than 70 mm will offer low resolutions. Obviously the ultimate choice really depends on individual preferences, yet the market has something to offer for everyone.
There is also a great deal of margin in terms of price flexibility as a simple, easy to use telescope can come about as easy as 300 dollars; however the price increases with requirements and improvements, making a well balanced structure to reach higher price ranges, often over the 5000 dollars mark.
Any recommendation on a good Grab and Go instrument?
Sure. One of the best grab and go telescopes we’ve put our hands on is the Orion 10034 GoScope II 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope Moon Kit. It’s compact, so it fits our basic criteria and offers features which makes it stand amongst all those models that beginners go for.
Being a beginner doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to get a good product with a good resolution. The 400mm focal length is not only appropriate for casual moon sighting and viewing the bright planets, but it can also be used for daytime bird viewing.
The accessories list include a lightweight tripod and a back pack, which helps carrying everything easily. The product also comes with a moon map and is widely available for less than a 100 $.
The idea people usually have about grab and go telescopes is that they are meant to be only for the beginners, and beginners aren’t supposed to use instruments with high resolution and better focus. But there is a huge array of products in the market and with just a slight effort, you will find a highly portable and technically advanced device.