dealscelestron astromaster 114 eq reflector telescope…

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@drcanak: I hadn't realized this one comes with the 51630, I had thought it was a different OEM-only lower end version of that one, without the red dot. I've used the 51630 finder before and I think it works great. I'd definitely go from maybe 1.5 to 2 thumbs up on this deal if that's the case :)

I don't understand why I'd heard so many negative reviews stemming from the finder, it's dead simple to use. Just like a rifle sight (think Modern Warfare) you look through the unmagnified finder, put the red dot on whatever you want to see, look through the viewfinder on the telescope and there it is. Most cheaper telescopes, you have to squint through the finder with one eye trying to line up an unilluminated BLACK dot onto whatever you want to look at, which is every bit as excruciatingly frustrating as it sounds.

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This is an excellent price on a mediocre scope. The quality of the scope can't be beat at this price. The only problem is the size of the primary. A 4-1/2" mirror is pretty small. You can get a department store POS scope with a 6" mirror for about this same price. Which one is better? Well, at that point, it's kind of a toss-up. But getting one at this quality with a 6" mirror would be a LOT more expensive. The department store POS with this size mirror would be about fifty bucks and even then not really worth it.

This would be a fantastic scope for introducing kids to astronomy without spending a bundle, but just be aware that if your kids show an interest and aptitude, they will quickly outgrow it and you'll end up needing something bigger. If you already know that the interest exists, you may want to skip directly to the higher end stuff.

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I think these are a lot like exercise machines, Seems like a good idea at the time...

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@agentbolt:

Everything agentbolt said is accurate, but this particular model comes with a built in red dot finder, so no need to buy an extra one.

Also I have to believe, given the price, that effective use of the motor is predicated on getting the equitorial mount properly aligned. If the equitorial mount is properly aligned, then keeping an object in the field of view manually is pretty trivial. A motor like this is convenient, but hardly necessary. Motors that can move in both planes, simultaneously are typically used in astrophotography and much more complicated affairs.

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@gmartell: Those have grown easier to find lately. I'd rather spot BOCs.

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Wondering if this helps one see any approaching Woot-offs?

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This is definitely the cheapest acceptable-level telescope you'll find out there. Anything cheaper will be so low-performing as to frustrate an aspiring astronomer right out of the hobby. Just two potential things to keep in mind:

#1. If you can afford it at ALL, get the motor version. The mount on this scope is finicky and constantly having to readjust it for the earth's rotation will get old

#2. The #1 problem people have with telescopes when they're new to the hobby is being able to actually FIND the object to look at it. The friggin' MOON can be tough, never mind if you want to look at Saturn's rings or whatever. Guess what the weakest part of this 'scope is? The viewfinder. Again, it's extra money you're spending which kind of hurts it's value proposition, but if you can, purchase a decent viewfinder to go along with it. Celestron makes a "red dot" finder that works pretty well for 23 bucks

http://www.amazon.com/Celestron-Star-Pointer-Finderscope-51630/dp/B00009X3UU

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@captainsuperdawg: You need this to see in your neighbor's windows? Geeze, they live on Mars or something, lol?

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Great...... this shows up right after my neighbors get curtains.