If you’re reading this you’re probably a parent who has realised your child is potential astronaut material.
We all think that about our children, it’s normal. Maybe they are or maybe they aren’t. Let’s not saddle them with the weight of our own crushed dreams. If your child is showing an interest in space and science however, then getting them a telescope can be a life-changing experience. Let’s be honest, some kids might look once and never again, but others may grab onto astronomy with both hands until they’re calling you from the International Space Station which they flew to on a rocket they designed and built themselves.
Babies and toddlers have difficulty controlling their movements and eyes enough to be able to appreciate, or even look through, a telescope. If you’d like to get in early though and really plant that seed for a life in microgravity swap their Dr Seuss bedtime story for an astronomy book with lots of photos of space or give them a planisphere to play with. At least they’ll be off screens for now, you have plenty of time to introduce a screen addiction later. This book “Star Gazing, a Kid’s Guide” even has a glow in the dark cover!
Now we’re generalising here. I know some nine year olds who have a better retention of galactic nomenclature than I do and if you have one of those kinds of kids perhaps skip straight to the next age category. At this age though children are better able to handle a simple telescope themselves. Computerisation can be avoided so things aren’t too complicated to setup for them and you don’t have to give up your phone either. Simple telescopes that you can simply point-and-look at bright things in the sky are ideal for this age group. It allows them to explore without any technological barrier! Here are some great examples of these kinds of simple telescopes for kids :
If you’re lucky enough to be the parent of a teenager still talks to you or you’re trying to buy back their slowly dwindling approval with their love of space, science and astronomy then it’s time to introduce them to more advanced telescopes with some technological novelties. Teenagers love technology and so a simple telescope isn’t going to cut it. You need something that gets you from A to B, where A is space, and B is social media. The telescopes below are a mix that include smartphone integration or GOTO computerisation and tracking. The higher end will also be more capable generally allowing them to explore whatever facet of space they decide to pursue. I’d recommend something larger too that they can take with them to university so they have something to hang their lab coat on.
These kids are no longer kids. They shouldn’t be living with you anymore and you are either in an enmeshed relationship with them or property prices are so crazy they are unable to leave home. Or, perhaps they are your spouse. Either way, they probably earn more than they did in childhood and if the property market has got you down you can blow that savings deposit on the best toy they’ll ever have.