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galileoscope review August 4, 2009

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Galileoscope, Science.
Tags: , , , ,

I got my galileoscope just in time for a trip to Philadelphia to see Galileo’s ‘scope (there’s some irony there…). It was cloudy and rainy the whole time there, so I didn’t really get the chance to try it out on the night sky until we got back. I am both impressed and unimpressed at the same time.

First, putting it together.  The instructions get off to a great start.  The pictures and drawings make it (mostly) clear how everything is supposed to go together. I’ll have another post on this latter.  Everything was going really well up until we got to the eyepieces. They say to follow the images.  But the images are small and don’t show the lens orientation. Now I know this is supposed to be an educational tool, but trial-and-error may not be the most educational. We of course quickly figured it out, but most people out there haven’t taught upper level optics labs. And there was so much discussion about the printed materials last summer that I was rather disappointed that there wasn’t a single telescope diagram in the whole thing.  Nothing even noted that the Galilean eyepiece would be right side up and the Keplerian would be inverted. Most of the documentation is online, but not easily search-able.

As for the telescope itself, it is sturdy (if put together right) and fits my camera tripod nicely. The sights align easily and accurately, which is something I can’t say for most of the telescopes in the $50 – $200 range. It has a 1/4 – 20 threaded nut, so it easily mounts to a camera tripod. It focuses by sliding the eyepiece  in and out, which is a little hard to do. On the other hand, they eyepieces won’t fall out when you’re looking near zenith, so that’s probably a good trade off. And once we figured out how the eyepieces worked, it was relatively easy to put them together and to assemble the barlow.

Of course the view through the ‘scope is the most important part. Well, it’s not C8, but it’s no Tasco either.

The treees behind the apartments across the street through the galileoscope (with fingerprint on eyepiece...)

The treees behind the apartments across the street through the galileoscope (with fingerprint on eyepiece...)

The first thing we looked at (being the midle of the day when it arrived) was, of course, a tree.  Specifically, a horizontal branch from a tree arcoss the road. The view was actaully a bit better than it looks in the image.  For one thing, it was in better focus for my eyes. The sky was heavily overcast, which is actually ideal for this sort of thing. The image is fairly clear and bright for such a small ‘scope, and it looks like there is very little chromatic aberration. The edges are definatly a little warped and fuzzy, but the center of the image was amazing for such a small, inexpensive ‘scope.

After we got back from our trip, we took a look at alberio. it was nearly at zentih, so I got a kink in my neck looking, but I coud clearly see two stars and one was blue and one was orange. It did actually look rather more orange than I am used to, so I am wondering more about the quality of the lenses.

We also took it to the Detroit Observatory, where we were able to see Jupiter rise.  It was too low to look with the Fitz, so I can’t tell how the two actually compare (’cause it’s certainly fair to compare a cheap 2″ plasitc telescope that could be called a toy to a 12″, 150 year old carefully crafted ‘scope buit for research…), but we were able to resolve all 4 moons and maybe even some banding on the  planet (the problem with knowing what something is supposed to look like is that you sometimes see what should be there.)

All in all, it’s at least as good as Galileo’s telescope, and probably better.

Next step: try a little astrophotography!

Of course clouds are forecast for the next few days…



1. Ri - March 28, 2010

Would this be good for a kid like a 12 year old? He’s really into astronomy and space stuff.

aquillam - March 28, 2010

It is fairly sturdy and really inexpensive so I would say it’s a good starter ‘scope. It really needs a mount of some sort, but you’ll see I have another post here about using a cardboard box so that isn’t really a problem. I keep mine in a tote bag so I can take it pretty much anywhere, and it tolerates being tossed around in the back of a car well.

You might consider a pair of binoculars, which will have a wider field of view and an upright image, which makes them easier for beginners and useful for things like sports and birdwatching. However, I haven’t seen a pair of binoculars for less than $50 that I thought was worth paying for.

2. K - December 22, 2009

How are you taking the photos?
Just hold a small camera up to the eyepiece?

aquillam - December 22, 2009

Yep. I have a small digital camera that I held up to the eyepiece.
I think the Galileoscope can handle an eyepiece projection type camera mount, but I haven’t tried it yet.

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