Beginners' luck

This year Stargazine LIVE is being broadcast to coincide with the 20 March partial solar eclipse, two months after its usual slot in January. It got me wondering if sales in beginners equipment will be effected by the later date.

Over the last few years retailers have had mixed sales. The first few years of the programme showed strong interest in beginners scope, yet some retailers mentioned to me that last year they saw a bit of a drop off. So with a two month difference this year, I do wonder if sales of basic systems might see a bit of a pick up when Brian and Dara once again take to the TV airwaves.

I do hope so, as in recent years we've seen quite an upswing in manufacturers trying to incorporate more fancy technology into beginners systems, especially with the GoTo systems that effectively take the pain out of aligning on the stars. But naturally that sort of technology comes with a price, yet price alone doesn't always put beginners off. I was asked a couple of years ago what I could recommend for a beginner and when I asked about their budget they replied, oh I can go up to about four grand! True that is the exception rather than the rule but it is impressive what can be bought today for a modest outlay.

This struck me with the Star Discovery 150P GoTo reflector I review in the March issue, out now, which now incorporates Sky-Watchers 'Freedom Find' technology that was previously found only in their higher end models.  For those who are interested in more advanced equipment, Steve Richards explores Altair Astro's Lightwave 72ED Refractor and Martin Lewis tests Celestron's NexImage Burst solar system colour camera, so make sure you get the latest issue out now.

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