Looking for inspiration for this year’s Christmas shopping? We’ve made this blog to try help with some suggestions of what to get your loved ones this holiday season. Our fourth blog of the Galway Camera Shops Christmas gift suggestions will focus on telescopes for astronomy
Astronomy’s popularity the last few years has been growing. The joys of astronomy come from intellectual discovery and knowledge of the cryptic night sky. It’s a fantastic hobby that appeals to all ages and stimulates our curiosity. With lots of astronomy clubs around Ireland it offers a great chance to meet new people or as a quality bonding experience for families.
If your thinking of buying for a budding astronomer in your life then we have something that will suit your budget here at the Galway Camera Shop.
We are the only family run specialist photographic store in the west of Ireland. Operating since the late 70’s we are conveniently located on 1 William St, Galway, and have had our new online store recently launched.
We usually stock a few different Celestron and Dorr brands and a few different models of each brand offering variety to cater for people on different budgets and interest levels. We will compare our models here with links for each one so you can do further research.
First up we will explain a few points to look out for then do a comparison of our models:
Is the telescope a refractor telescope which uses lenses or a reflector telescope which uses mirrors.
Both refractor and reflector telescopes include:
an optical tube, which is the main part of the instrument and creates the images of the stars;
a mount, which supports the optical tube and allows it to be turned towards a specific direction. Mounts generally come with a tripod;
accessories, the most important being the eyepieces and the finderscope (or red dot finder).
Beginners usually opt for refractor telescopes, which are slightly easier to use than reflector telescopes.
The aperture is the most important thing to consider when evaluating the power of a telescope. If budget isn’t an issue, it is best to go for an aperture that is as big as possible since:
- the diameter of the aperture determines the images’ brightness. The bigger the scope, the more light it gathers
- the diameter also determines the images’ amount of detail. Under ideal conditions (flawless telescope, stable atmosphere), a diameter doubled in size will reveal twice as much detail.
The focal length determines:
- the telescope’s magnification. The longer the focal length, the greater the magnification (but watch out! As you’ll see later, high magnification is not always the best).
- the telescope’s size.
Dorr Danubia Mars 66 Refractor telescope
This is our cheapest telescope from Dorr and is good for beginners on a budget. We would recommend this model for children our early teens. Its a refractor telescope which means it uses lenses as opposed to mirrors. It has a high magnification range of 35-350x magnification. Its aperture is 60mm with a focal length of 700mm. In the box you get a Azizmuth mouth with an accessory tray, 3 eyepieces, and a tripod. It weighs 3.5kg.
Dorr Danubia Meteor 31 Reflector telescope
Another beginner model, the meteor 31 also made by Dorr. This has a magnification of 76mm which is a bigger aperture than the Mars 66 model. This means it will let in more light giving you a clearer image. The Dorr Danubia Meteor 31 comes with 2 eyepieces offering you 35x-116x magnification and 700mm focal length. You also get the azizmuth mount and an adjustable aluminium tripod. We would also recommend this model for children or early teens.
The Celestron Powerseeeker 114 EQ
This is our entry level model from Celestron. It is a step above the Dorr models. It is a reflector telescope is quick and easy no-tool setup and is perfect for older kids starting off in astronomy or for people on a budget. The 114 in the title refers to to aperture of the telescope. It basically means it has a 114mm aperture and 900mm focal length. The Powerseeker 114 EQ comes with a manual German equatorial mount with setting circles to locate and track sky objects. The tripod that comes in the box is an adjustable, full height tripod with deluxe accessory tray. Accessories include a 20mm and 4mm eyepiece, a finderscope, and a Barlow Lens. The 20mm eyepiece will give you a 45x magnification (this will bring whatever you’re looking at 45 times closer). The 4mm eyepiece will give you a 225x magnification.
People often ask if the telescopes are difficult to setup, they are very easy to setup and everything you need comes in the box. The hardest part of Astronomy is learning about what you are viewing. Thankfully Celestron have a range of different apps you can download to your smartphone that will help you grow your knowledge of the night sky. With the Celestron Powerseeker 114EQ you can download Starry Night Basic Software with a 36,000 object database, printable sky maps and enhanced images including 3D renderings of stars, exoplanets, and galaxies.
The Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ
The Astromaster 130EQ is a fantastic reflector telescope for those on a budget. It has a quick and easy no-tool setup and is one of our most popular models. With a 130mm aperture and 650mm focal length the Astromaster 130EQ telescope can gather more light making the image brighter, sharper, and able to produce more detail. The larger the lens or mirror diameter or aperture, the more light your scope gathers and the higher resolution (ability to see fine detail) it has.
The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian Telescope is a great option for those looking for an affordable and easy-to-use telescope.
This model comes with a manual German equatorial mount with setting circles - to locate and track sky objects
Again the tripod is an adjustable, full height steel tripod with deluxe accessory tray
Accessories include a 20mm eyepiece with 33x magnification and a 10mm eyepiece with 65x magnification, and a finderscope.
The Astromaster 130EQ also comes with the ability to download the Starry Night Basic Software with a 36,000 object database, printable sky maps and enhanced images including 3D renderings of stars, exoplanets, and galaxies.
The Celestron Starsense LT 114AZ
This is also a reflector telescope. It comes in at a similar price to the Astromaster 130 EQ. However the Starsense LT114AZ has a smaller aperture at 114mm and focal length of 1000mm. This model does come with other features that makes up for the lower aperture. The StarSense technology makes it easy for a beginner to learn. It takes out many of the complications of getting started with stargazing.
Once that is done, simply select an object out of the database of visible ones for that night and the app will guide you on how to point your telescope to observe it.
This reduces considerably the time spent on star-hopping and figuring out latitudes and position of the stars, and lets you focus on actually observing.
The Starsense LT114 AZ telescope comes with a 25mm (40x magnification) and 10mm (100x magnification) eyepieces, 2x Barlow Lens, StarSense smartphone dock, a red dot finderscope (in case you want to use the telescope without your phone), and a full-height tripod.
Celestron has reinvented the manual telescope with StarSense Explorer—the first telescope that uses your smartphone to analyze the night sky and calculate its position in real time. StarSense Explorer is ideal for beginners thanks to the app’s user-friendly interface and detailed tutorials. It’s like having your own personal tour guide of the night sky.
The Celestron Starsense DX130 AZ
This model is our second most comprehensive reflector telescope. The Starsense DX130 AZ has all the features of the above model but comes with a 130mm aperture resulting in a nearly 28% increase in light gathering capability over the LT114AZ. The telescope comes with a focal length of 650mm, making it a fantastic option for deep sky observing
The LT models share a common altitude-azimuth mount, with a smartphone cradle attached to the telescope tube. Each DX scope rides on its mount sidesaddle, with your smartphone sitting directly across the altitude axis from the telescope.
StarSense Explorer uses patented technology and your smartphone to determine exactly where the telescope is pointed in the night sky. A Lost in Space Algorithm (LISA), like the ones satellites use in orbit to correctly orient themselves, helps the app match star patterns it detects overhead to its internal database.
While other astronomy apps may claim that they can help you find objects, they rely exclusively on the phone’s gyros and accelerometers, which aren’t as accurate as LISA technology. No other app can accurately tell you when your target is visible in the eyepiece.
The 25mm eyepiece will give a 26x magnification while the 10mm eyepiece will give a 65x magnification.
The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerised Telescope
The NexStar 4SE is our most cmprehensive telescope for night sky vewing. It has a 102mm aperture with a focal length of 1325mm giving it an excellent light gathering ability.
The highest useful magnification of 241x will give you great views of the moon, the planets, and deep sky objects like Orion Nebula.
The mount is a fully automated GoTo mount with motor drive, and a database of over 40,000 celestial objects. Sky Align technology will align your telescope for you and be ready for viewing in minutes
Along with our product comparison we have made a list of astronomy clubs around Ireland should you wish to meet other enthusiasts in the future:
We hope this blog has been of some help. If you have any further queries then feel free to contact us on our websites contact page or call into us in Galway.
Have a merry Christmas from the Galway camera shop.