Bad Astronomy

Last minute holiday gift advice, Part 1: telescopes!

It’s that time of year: wherein I get 800 emails every small time unit asking me what kind of telescope people should buy for their kids/brother/sister/aunt/zombie-clone.

OK, first: go read this. It has advice and links on buying ‘scopes.

Then, read this nice breakdown at Science-Based Parenting. There is a TON of great advice there.

Finally, check to see if there is a local astronomy club in your area. Clubs are loaded with good folks who are eager to help out people just getting into astronomy. And they frequently have star parties, giving you a chance to try some ‘scopes out and see what fits you best.

Getting someone a ‘scope for the holidays is a wonderful, thoughtful gift, but remember: there are many types, and it’s a bit like buying a car for someone. What do they need it for? Is it easy to use? Will they use it, or will it collect dust after a couple of frustrating outings in the cold weather?

If done correctly, you may be giving someone a jump start on a rewarding and wonderful hobby, and even a career! So think carefully and do it right.