Beginner Telescope: The Celestron Firstscope
With Stargazing Live due to return to the BBC next week the public’s awareness of astronomy takes a huge leap around this time of the year as we rush outside to turn our attention towards the heavens! With many novices being tempted to investigate astronomy, we thought this would be a good time to review a starter telescope.
Choosing a beginner’s telescope is not easy when initially presented with the number of options so I looked for a recommendation and decided on the Celestron Firstscope as it was an Official Product of the International Year of Astronomy, which was in 2009. The telescope was also named a 2010 Hot Product by Sky & Telescope. These seemed like excellent votes of confidence in the product and it is produced and marketed as a beginner’s scope so hopefully there is plenty of consideration towards the novice. The Firstscope is a Dobsonian style telescope (see Wikipedia for a brief description), and these types of telescopes are ideal for entry level astronomy and amateur use.
Ultimately with telescopes there is a “you get what you pay for” element and the ease of use of the Firstscope needs to be balanced with the level of magnification obtainable. The Celestron Firstscope does not provide a high-level of magnification but allows examination of the moon from straight-out-the-box. Some planets, such as Jupiter, can be observed but the level of detail will be limited and the planet will appear as a white disk.
The magnification is not as high as other scopes but you need to remember that you have bought an introductory scope where the focus is on ease of use and introducing the fascinating world of astronomy to somebody.
Ease of Use
The table-top design makes this easy to set-up and you don’t need to spend time setting up and leveling a tripod so this gains some good marks for the product. The telescope is designed to be easy to use and the user simply moves the tube in the direction of the desired object to be observed.
The telescope is lightweight and can be easily transported and moved around which means it is ideal for garden observations and then safe-keeping indoors. It’s super portable, but you need a table (flat surface) to sit it on.
The Firstscope does have a dedicated accessory kit which can be purchased as an extra. The kit includes a finder scope which will make it easier to locate objects prior to magnification. Also included are some eye pieces to increase the power of magnification and a moon filter. The extras enhance the telescope, especially if you keep in mind that it is very reasonably priced.
The starter kit is priced at less than £20 on the PicStop site so you can introduce a beginner to the world of the night sky for well under a hundred pounds – that’s 5/5 in my book. This score is based on valuing the scope on what it offers to the user – an introductory telescope.
[box]The Verdict: a great telescope for your first purchase, and an option to “test the water” with astronomy before investing in a more advanced telescope. It has its optical limitations but as an option for starting your exploration out-of-the-box then you will need to hunt hard for a better telescope.[/box]
Review by Ben – Enjoy your observations and don’t forget to tune into the BBC next week for a wealth of information and education!