Astronomy is one of the most fascinating subjects for young children. With children’s songs alluding to heavenly bodies up above and many children’s stories revolving around the sun, the moon, and the stars, it’s not really difficult to comprehend why kids are captivated by things that we can never hold in our hands. Perhaps, it is for this reason that the stars up in the heavens can command such vivid imagination from our kids. What better way to help them understand astronomy and really appreciate these stellar bodies than with the ten best telescopes for kids? While some of the products in our selection are for make-believe purposes, they are nonetheless wonderful introduction to the concept of using telescopes to see very far objects.
Criteria Used to Evaluate The Best Telescopes for Kids
Even the compromises we made can be easily rectified! Usually the plastic items that go into creating many of these products is of sturdy quality. It is often the tripod that tends to break first. This is something that has a quick and easy fix! A new metal tripod can be easily purchased locally or online for around $20 — less the cost of the initial investment for the telescope itself! This can be a particular consideration if the child retains an interest, but is still too young for an upgrade. One note of caution might be to be extra careful when handling the product.
The beauty of this product is that it already works with what we tend to be naturally equipped with, an innate curiosity about our immediate environment and beyond! We live in a highly technical world! Every owner of any kind of Apple product, or even outdated desktop, is in some way an Amateur Engineer, IT expert, and Quantum Physicist! It’s all unavoidable!
A few of these products market themselves as a possible gateway to STEM fields and careers. It’s a nudge, and nevertheless it’s contributing to the socialization factor of our current generation. What better than starting with the stars and celestial bodies. It’s guaranteed to be a gateway to something, career-wise or not!
Our basic research could begin with Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of The Starry Night! It’s the age-old imagination that creates a kaleidoscopic curiosity that leads to wonder and awe the first time we look at the sky and understand that we’re not alone! Perhaps is that luminescent full moon one night; or that meteor shower on a clear night while out camping. As a parent, the child’s education can begin with your own! Being up on identifying the stars from a naked eye perspective in the beginning can lead to a telescope. Later, buy some books, watch some astronomy and science shows! Dip your toe in the water!
It is shown that this structured beginning, guided to and through, a tangible investment like a telescope can bring more focus to a child’s life and lower the likelihood their developing ADHD symptoms. This opens up the imagination and leaves less room for outer electronic influences conversely. STEM and mathematical conclusions can be come to more easily through observational awareness and a playful, concentrated, effort!
What Determined the Amazing Kiddie Telescopes in Our List
We were not quite sure how to approach this particular project since it telescopes are superb pieces of optical engineering. While we do recognize that kids deserve only the best kind of telescope they could possibly have, they might not really be able to appreciate the rather complex knowledge associated with astronomy. We cannot go for purely telescope toys, either; although we do recognize the need of kids to use their imagination. So, we decided to strike a balance between the play needs of children and their need for learning. This is the reason why there are real telescopes in our list and there are also toy telescopes that are designed primarily to stimulate the imagination of children during make-believe or pretend play.
That being said, we made sure that the toy telescopes are appropriate for the developmental age of kids. Different features were carefully evaluated and then analyzed as to what developmental benefits the toy can provide. The safety and quality construction of the product were also examined and correlated with the trustworthiness of the company that made it.
As for the kiddie telescopes, there were three things that we had to look for: the quality of the optics, the stability of the platform, and the diameter of the telescope’s aperture. These three are very important in any type of telescope as they do allow for a more superb experience. Unfortunately, we had to compromise a bit as high quality optics can easily translate to thousands of dollars. The same is true with the aperture. The greater the aperture, the more expensive it is. And since we’re only talking about beginners’ telescopes, then something that’s affordable yet functional should be the main focus of our search. And that’s exactly what we did.
How You Can Choose the Right Telescope for Your Kid
Choosing a telescope for your child can be quite tricky. When choosing your kid’s first telescope it is often important to consider a variety of things. While you can always refer to a comprehensive parents’ guide to children’s telescopes, sometimes you only need to consider the following.
- Your kid’s interests – This is very important as a child who clearly has no interest in astronomy will be bored to death and you’ll end up with another junk in your basement or even backyard. Make sure to introduce your child first to astronomy concepts before buying a telescope. The same is true if you want wildlife viewing.
- Your budget – True telescopes can range between $100 and $5,000. Before you head out to your favorite retailer, ask yourself how much you’re prepared to shell out.
- Your understanding of the basics – This is related to the second point, your budget. Know that telescopes are excellent pieces of engineering ingenuity. The more sophisticated the construction, the greater is the telescoping experience. Unfortunately, it’s also pricier. So, you need to strike a balance between what’s functionally acceptable and what’s economically feasible. To help you with this, you’ll need to understand aperture, optics, and the mount. A good starting point is to choose an aperture of at least 70mm for superb astronomical observations. Also, don’t buy into the magnification bandwagon. A good rule of thumb to follow is to always get a telescope with a maximum magnification that is no more than twice its diameter in millimeters. For instance, if you have a 70mm aperture, the maximum power you must look for is 140x. Any value greater than this can lead to fuzzy viewings.
The Bottom Line
Astronomy may not be everyone’s favorite but it sure can draw fascination from many kids. With these 10 best telescopes for kids, you can now help grow your kids’ fascination or initiate them to the wonderful world of astronomy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can these products be called educational when aperture on most is too small to even see far away objects?
A: A telescope with a larger aperture would be more expensive. The point of our product line to make it the most cost-efficient for parents on a budget, while at least opening the door to entertaining an astronomical interest for your child. With at least a 60-70mm aperture, you can see the surface of the moon on a clear night. Once a strong interest is established, then it might be time to upgrade to a more expensive telescope with a larger aperture.
Q: What should I do when, and if, the tripod breaks?
A: You have two options — 1. You can go out and buy a new telescope; or, 2. You can buy a replacement tripod. I’m assuming you want to know your options for the second part. For our inexpensive product line, we suggest that you buy a new metal tripod at the lowest cost possible to you, since you’re not sure how long it will be in use. The best tripod mount is the Alt-Azimuth. At best, even with the upgrade, you’ll have a spare tripod handy in case you need a new variable height or angle.
Q: What are my options if I want to take pictures with my telescope?
A: The majority of our line are camera friendly or compatible. The one exception might be the Celestron model. It can be possible with a 70mm telescope using an SLR camera but, this would also require a different tripod mount from what we offer for greater resolution. For astronomical photography, I’d suggest that this can wait until you invest a more pricey telescope.
Q: What other tools can I use in addition to telescopes to educate my child in stargazing?
A: At least two of our products come with interactive software accessories that will do the job in addition to the telescope itself! Other than that, I’d say invest in books and magazines. Get the old fashioned National Geographics off the rack in the grocery store or in libraries. Subscribe to science magazines. Watch science shows they can range from the down to earth, to the fantastic! And, if you have really precocious child, they may even benefit from a lecture given at the science museum or local community college.
Q: What can I do about the occasional blurry image?
A: Sometimes this due to have the magnification of the scope too high! There’s a tendency in thinking that the high the magnification, the more resolution I will get! Not so in most cases! Be patient in your adjustments sometimes it needs to be just ever so slightly on the object to eventually get a clearer view. Other times, it could just the angle at which you are approaching the object. Once at least two of those factors are ruled out, then you should look at the quality of the aperture itself.
Q: Some of these products are “award winning” and promise in guiding my child toward a STEM field — why should any of this matter to me?
A: Good question! It doesn’t matter! These facts only matter as much as you want them to, and what piques the interest of your child to follow. These are all options that may or may not engage the customer. The fact that some of these products have won parent awards, lends them greater credibility than they might normally have. There might be some truth in the claims! It’s up to you as the customer to see if it lives up to the hype or not.
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