Tip & How-To about Optics

STOP! buying those $49 telescopes

Please do everyone a favor and stop buying those cheap toy telescopes on Ebay, at garage sales, and at Toys R Us! Do yourself a favor and stop wasting your money. Craigslist.com also has many junk telescopes for sale!

Before you buy one, search for TELESCOPE at www.craigslist.com

You will find dozens of cheap toy telescopes listed there purchased by a parent for their child, or unknowingly bought by an adult. They are all listed there because they are usually junk telescopes which will do nothing but frustrate you. They quickly wind-up for sale again or in a closet at home; NEVER to be used again!

One of the worst offending scopes is the Edu-scientific brand sold at Toys R Us, along with most Bushnell, and Tasco brands. Galileo scopes should also be put into the brands NOT TO BUY. The worst of the bunch is the Edu-scientific. We get more complaints on that brand than on any other. It's JUNK, almost entirely made of plastic; with very bad optics.

The OLD Tasco and Sears, and Unitron, brands from the 1950s and 1960s are considered collector scopes since their optics were made in Japan and are usually excellent-- optically. They are regularly bought and sold on the Classic Scope forum on www.cloudynights.com .

However the ones on the market now usually have a plastic focuser, and plastic eyepieces, and maybe even a plastic main lens! All of them are completely useless for Astronomy.

Instead, join a local Astronomy Club and attend several of their meetings and star parties. The members will show you several telescopes that are very good for beginners, and will teach the sky, and how to find objects that are invisible to the naked eye.

A MANUAL will NOT help you! We receive dozens of requests for manuals for small "toy" telescopes that do NOT have a manual! Joining an Astronomy club or securing the assistance of a local amateur astronomer is your best bet for learning how to use a telescope. The manual will NOT tell you exactly how to focus the telescope, although this is obvious to an amateur astronomer.

The MANUAL will not tell you where to point the telescope in the night sky, or which eyepiece you should use. It will also NOT tell you how to use the telescope to find objects in the night sky. This is learned by talking with an experience amateur astronomer.

Even when you learn how to focus the telescope you will still not know how to find those small and dim objects in the night sky. Parts are IMPOSSIBLE to get for these telescopes. Your only source for a part that might work is to look around a well stocked local hardware store. NONE of these small scopes can be repaired by getting parts from the factory! The factory is in China or Taiwan, the local "seller" does not maintain a replacement parts inventory. They only sell the cheap telescope!

So--------------------- STOP buying those cheap toy telescopes. Read my other TIPS here on Fixya; and read this:

and then read this:

The most asked question is "I CANNOT see anything in my telescope!" How about in the day time? Can you focus on a distant object during the day time? If you can nothing is wrong with the telescope. What you probably mean is that you cannot find anything in the NIGHT sky.

Sky objects are VERY tiny, and your telescope has a very small field of view about the size of the tip of your finger held at arms length! The scope must be pointed DIRECTLY at the object or you will not see anything. That's why we recommend a pair of binoculars to a beginner. A much wider field of view makes it easier to find those tiny objects in the night sky.

Finally, we receive MANY questions asking, "Why is everything upside down?" ALL ASTRONOMICAL telescopes show upside down images. It's completely normal. Nothing is wrong with the telescope. To use the scope for terrestrial viewing you will need to buy an "erecting prism diagonal". These are widely available on-line. BUT here is the problem! They cost $40-$80 just for this small part! This may be more than you paid for your entire telescope!

What you really wanted was a spotting telescope used by bird watchers and target shooters. This is a specialized telescope available at most large sporting goods stores, like Cabela's, Academy, and Bass Pro Shops.

This is NOT what you just purchased!

What you should have bought for your first telescope is a DOBSONIAN mounted reflector. Yes it is more than $200. Sorry but a real astronomical telescope costs at least $200. See this link for the scope you should have purchased. $79 telescopes are useless for Astronomy. STOP BUYING THEM!

Buy this type of telescope:

Clear Skies,

TelescopeMan RSS Link to audio & Video


Posted by on

Optics Logo

Related Topics:

Related Questions:

1 Answer

I need to buy a musical table for my niece's birthday. What is it?

A musical table is table-shaped toy for toddlers. It usually involves lots of different things to push and spin and buttons that play music. Musical tables are toys that are meant to be educational while being fun.
Here is an example of a musical table for sale on ebay:

Feb 03, 2013 | Toys

1 Answer

Please do everyone a favor and stop buying those cheap toy telescopes on Ebay, at garage sales, and at Toys R Us! Do yourself a favor and stop wasting your money. Craigslist.com also has many junk telescopes for sale! ALSO-- stop giving us ONE THUMBS UP when we tell you that you just BOUGHT a TOY telescope that cannot be used for Astronomy! This is very frustrating, and an insult to those of us who are trying to help you. You cannot buy a telescope for $79 just like you cannot buy a usable laptop for $79!! Usable telescopes cost about $200. Here is one that would make a very nice beginner's telescope: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEs_MMcJ7JA You cannot buy a telescope that is useful for Astronomy for less than about $200. Also beginners should NEVER BUY a telescope on an (EQ) equatorial mount. These must be polar aligned before they can be used. The most frequently asked question is "I just bought a telescope and everything is upside down. Yes that's correct. ALL astronomical telescopes show upside down images -- it's normal, nothing is wrong with the telescope. In outer space there is no UP or DOWN! NOW --- read the rest of my TIPS below, and when we answer your question please rate us and don't just IGNORE our answers. Again stop giving us 1 thumbs up just because you did not like the answer to your question-- "What's wrong I cannot see anything!" All we can tell you is to practice during the day time on a distant object using the eyepiece with the largest number written on it. Turn the focus knob until you get a sharp image. That's really all we can say to you; along with finding a local amateur astronomer who will help you. A manual will ONLY tell you how to assemble the scope. It will NOT tell you how to use the telescope to find objects in the night sky. Any amateur astronomer can assemble these low cost telescopes without a manual-- find a local Astronomy club and get help. Many of these off brand scopes DO NOT have manuals. SO------- we cannot point you to one on the internet. Again stop buying $89 telescopes and you will not have this problem. Remember to give us the PROPER thumbs up for our answers. A one thumbs up for a correct answer is actually an insult to those of us who take time to answer you. One more time----- there MAY NOT be a manual for your scope, and you MUST learn how to focus a telescope. We cannot come over to your house and show you how! JOIN this web site for free and start asking questions. Very friendly people there who will help you. www.astronomyforum.net Clear Skies! TelescopeMan Subscribe to TelescopeMan's audio and video Astronomy podcasts. Here is the RSS link-- click it-- RSS Link to TelescopeMan Audio-Video www.telescopeman.tumblr.com

Aug 01, 2010 | Optics

1 Answer

lost manual not sure how put together how to focus

This is a scope being sold by TOYS R US! What does that tell you about it.

Contact Toys R Us-- for help, and never buy another telescope from a toy store!

You will not find a manual anywhere on the internet.

Read this before you buy another telescope:

Aug 27, 2010 | Edu-Science (10166) Telescope

1 Answer

missing some parts on a telescope i purchased from a yard sale. where can i buy parts?

You cannot! That is one of the worst telescopes you can possibly have and use. It is being sold by Toys R Us. We receive more complaints on that brand than any other.

Your only source for parts will be a local well stocked hardware store. The scope you bought will do nothing but frustrate you.

Next time buy one of these:

Read these two web pages:


Aug 23, 2010 | Edu-Science (10166) Telescope

Not finding what you are looking for?

1,288 people viewed this tip

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Optics Experts

Joe Lalumia aka...
Joe Lalumia aka...

Level 3 Expert

3186 Answers


Level 3 Expert

102366 Answers

Mark Campeau

Level 1 Expert

44 Answers

Are you an Optic Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions