Scope suggestions for astronomy groups


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Am looking at trying to get some local schools (and also individuals in a separate setup) into astronomy. Most likely, the scopes I will be using will have to be purchased (at least at the beginning) by me and I am a LONG way from having deep pockets.
What I am looking for is some SOLID recommendations for refractor scopes that aren't real expensive. The reason for not looking for reflector scopes is the additional maintenance that would have to be done (which would be by most likely only me for a while), stuff like collimation and whatnot.
Refractors, on the overall score of things, seem to be less "picky" and not needing as much regular maintenance.
I have even contemplated a few sets of astro binoculars to show the different levels that people can use to get into it.
I am leaning towards the GSyker. And no, NONE of these will be used for any more than simple intro visual viewing.

Some of the ones I've been looking at are

Amazon product

Amazon product

Amazon product

Amazon product

I'm also contemplating getting a intro level Dobson for the DSO objects, since I realize that the above are more targeted towards intra-solar viewing.
A short refractor like an ST-80 might be the best. My understanding is the newest version has a bunch of plastic parts which the old ones had cast aluminum. The reason I'd suggest short scopes is for user convenience. A slew of a short scope means less moving around for the user. Remember the users are new people and astronomy is done in the dark. Stuff happens in the dark and newbies might trip on a tripod leg..... and bumping a short tube scope causes less of an error than bumping (with their face or worse eye) than with a long scope.

You are spot on going with a Alt/AZ tripod rather than a GEM mount. For newbies the GEM is a lot of messin' around when slewing to a new target. IMO a DOB is the best way to go. Low Center of Gravity (COG) and highly unlikely to end up in the dirt..... Sure you may have to collimate the thing but that (once practiced) takes very little time IF it isn't bounced around a lot and the temperature swings aren't wild.

Depending on the age group, how short or tall they are and how high the targets are I'd build an adjustable viewing stool. I built mine out of some scrap lumber. When my Grandkids want to see stuff in space I pull it out and it enhances their ability to enjoy the experience without struggling to see in the eye-piece.

Sorry about the paint, was built 7 years ago, sits outside (had to dig it out of the only snowbank in the yard) and was painted with water-based exterior paint. It can be adjusted from almost having your butt on the ground to a six footer having dangling feet!:ROFLMAO: I can take better images if required....


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