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My son is getting interested in astronomy. I was thinking about getting him a scope when he gets a bit older, he is 4 now. At what age have other people gotten their kids telescopes? (I have a 10" dob that we use together) Also at what age is taking a kid on a dark sky camping trip start to make sense.

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closed as off topic by Chris White, Qmechanic Apr 21 '13 at 23:12

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Does this belong here? –  AIB Jun 2 '11 at 7:28
    
For what its worth my 4 1/2 year old "made" me take the telescope out last night to look at Jupiter. And my almost 3 year old can point out the moon in the sky often faster than I can. –  Zachary K Jan 19 '12 at 8:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You should get them started whenever they are interested. Answer questions, take them out to do astronomy related activities when they want, and so forth.

The main thing for me is not to push them faster than they want to go. That causes them to lose interest.

As for getting their own telescope, I got mine when I was eight. My neighbor down the street just got one for their eight year old son as well. That's only two data points so you can't really draw many conclusions. However, that seems to be the age when they are responsible enough to take care of it on their own. Since you already have a 10", it may not be as critical as they will probably grow up learning to use yours.

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I started with my first daughter when she was just days old. I needed something to talk to her about and explain to her, so I told her about the things that interested me. By 3 she would point and name many of the stars in the sky: Capella and Vega were easy for her, and she could determine planets sometimes more easily than I could! It really cemented for her when she first saw Antares and thought that it was Mars. I told her that the name of the star actually means "easily confused with Mars" and she thought that it was just the funniest thing. Now, at five, she knows her way around the night sky better than she knows the city that we live in. And we have a very special activity that is just ours, which is no less benefit than the knowledge she gains. We only do naked-eye astronomy, so it is a real sharing experience. I cannot wait to stay up for a meteor shower with her someday!

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Nice, and it looks you have a nice dark sky nearby! –  Zachary K Jan 19 '12 at 9:03
    
I wish we did, Zachary! We just barely can see magnitude 3 stars (Megretz) but we really can see the stars' colours just fine. I feel that that particular combination of a relatively low amount of stars combined with each one looking different helps. We do use a handheld green laser to point. –  dotancohen Jan 21 '12 at 13:48
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You are in Be'er Sheva right? Dive south 30km and you should have an amazing sky –  Zachary K Jan 21 '12 at 16:14
    
Yes, we did drive south last year, it was amazing. It was the only time that we saw the Milky Way, and there were so many stars that even I had a hard time finding my way around them! I don't notice that my profile mentions ב"ש, how did you know (I don't object). Are you local? –  dotancohen Jan 21 '12 at 18:14
    
I followed the link to your home page when I saw an Israeli name. I live in Ariel BTW. The Trip to Mizpe Ramon is SO worth it –  Zachary K Jan 22 '12 at 4:48

My experience appears to be parallel to yours. My son (now 6) showed interest in astronomy when he was 4 years old as well. At that time we took our 6" telescope out and started with the moon. We read a few beginner astronomy books together and he's dictated the pace since

Dad, when can we see [insert object name here]...

Going forward I don't know that we'll buy him his own telescope but it will be more of a question of when will he be responsible enough to use the scopes we have on his own. We'll probably upgrade our 6" soon and at somepoint I expect that he'll be using what ever telescopes we have at that time.

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