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**Watch Out** Guide by- AstroShop

Better to be safe than sorry As part of our commitment to helping beginners in their search for a good telescope or other accessory we have created this buyer beware page to alert you visually to products you may encounter from dealers and other sellers making unrealistic claims of performance. In their defence, some just simply have no idea or simply don't care about what they sell other than the almighty dollar!

If you come across something you feel we should add here then please let us know.

Sometimes it's just not worth saving a few dollars on an unsupported second hand telescope with an unknown history that may disappoint and end up being unused and collecting dust in the back shed.

We have no problem with encouraging purchases of second hand gear so long as you know the seller and can get an honest appraisal of its history. If you are unsure, please feel free to e-mail a link and ask for our opinion. We also have a very good network of reputable amateurs around Australia who can be contacted nearest your area for advice.

Avoid the disappointment

Left: This telescope was advertised as high power performance...nothing could be further from the truth.
It is quite simply a toy.


Left: A sure sign of a dealer who knows not what they do.
They have set up this display model telescope with the finder scope mounted back to front!

Under-sized mount

Left:This telescope may be ok for the absolute novice but the weedy looking mount is way under rated to cope with the load. The scope will be very shaky in a light breeze and when focussing.

Such a small mount is only suitable for smaller telescopes like a light-weight 114mm reflector of small refractor up to 80mm.

RubbishPoor Performer

CCD Cameras: Be very wary of these cameras. The USB model at far left should be avoided at all costs. The video model at right produces ok pictures but the one we tested had defects on the CCD window which appeared like a big black crack on the T.V monitor.

A real Shocker!!

Refractors from hell

Advertised as a 750x power telescope and only used once out of the box! - Hmmm little wonder, this scope is not practically capable of anything more than 125x power and with its shocking eyepieces the views are terrible.

You get what you pay for!

Variable Magnification Eyepieces

Sounds like a great idea however the lenses in a good ocular are designed to perform best at a specific magnification. Many cheaper zoom-eyepiece designs do not maintain focus when zooming and out and have poor optical correction.

Only the top line brands like Vixen®, Baader, ProStar® and William Optics for example perform very well in the Zoom eyepiece stakes.

Never use Eyepiece Solar Filters - They are dangerous!!

Unsupported Cheap Telescopes on the net

Along with the poor scopes shown above, unfortunately there are still so many innocent consumers who'll go for a low priced 2nd hand scope that they can't physically inspect from places like E-bay and others. We still hear horror reports of these telescopes coming with highly illegal sun filters that screw in to the eyepiece. Never use these!!! They get hot and can crack causing permanent eye damage. Only use appropriate full-aperture safety solar filters. Some telescopes have been dropped causing damage to the optics and tube being way out of collimation (see our collimation guide) and don't have the original manual to help sort out the problems. It's far better to purchase new where possible unless you know the individual selling the scope is reputable and will help you after the purchase.


Misleading advertisments


Deceptive Discounting

Know doubt about it, everyone loves a bargain and one of the oldest tricks in the salesman book is the Red Tag special or claims of super discounts sometimes up to 90% off RRP. In reality, what is RRP (recommended retail price) in today's economy anyway? If a company offers 50 or more percent off RRP then a wise shopper will know it must already be too expensively priced. We've seen this same telescope supplier offer up to 75% off RRP, so don't get sucked in to this type of hype advertising and do your home work by shopping around a little first. You'll find that most reputable dealers are already very competitively prices and may even be able to match or beat prices from red tag charmers.


Another sad yet well meaning (we think) offender is Australia Post and their ever-growing range of products that hook buyers in while waiting in the queue to send a letter. We have met many people who have purchased a cheap binocular or packaged telescope (telescope in a case...we call them "junkatrons") only to be greatly disappointed later by the poor optics and greatly misleading claims of power performance. Plastic lenses, wobbly mounts are what you get for under $100.00 so don't waste your money!



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