Stellafane, June 2000
Apparently some of you are fascinated by this web site and its workings. Here are some of the more common questions I get asked.
- How long have you been involved with astronomy?
Since about 1980.
- How long has Scopereviews been around?
The site originated in my AOL web space (some of you may remember this back from 1997) and has been known as Scopereviews since November of 1998.
- I bought a telescope at a department store. How come I can't see anything with it?
Again, please see the beginner's advice about this. If you already bought something at a dept store, return it if you can, even if you have to pay a restocking charge. If you can't, try selling it on ebay, or just chalk it up to experience. Then, go out and buy something you can actually use.
- Ed, what do you do for a living?
Currently I'm a sales rep for a large international industrial firm. I run Scopereviews out of my own pocket for the benefit(?) of you, the reader.
- I know you told me not to buy a telescope at a department store, but I went ahead and did it anyway. This thing doesn't seem to work. What can I do?
Yes, folks believe it or not, I get messages like this. You're pretty much up the creek. Sell it, give it away, or chalk it up to experience.
- I bought/found/inherited a 60 X 675 telescope. Can you provide a manual for it?
Again, if you buy a department store telescope, there is nothing I can do to help you.
- I have a family heirloom telescope in the attic/basement. Can you tell me what it's worth?
Experience dictates that "family heirlooms" are nothing more than department store telescopes with a coating of dust on them. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but in 30+ years, I've never seen one.
- When are you going to review "xxxx"?
The answer is usually quite boring - I probably haven't seen it yet!
- I bought a refractor that you made a few years ago. What's it worth?
There is a rumor going around that I have built several refractors using Edmund, Jaegers, and other lenses. For the record, I have built one telescope - a 6" Newtonian that many of you have already read about. I have never built a refractor. If you run across one of these, the seller is misinformed. Also, there are a few dishonest individuals on ebay who claim to have acquired some of the expensive telescopes reviewed on this web site. These ebay ads usually feature my review and photograph(s), live outside the US, and have zero feedback. You should be aware that almost none of the very expensive telescopes reviewed here were owned by me; they were review samples. Thus, if any individual claims to have bought "my" Takahashi FCT150 from me, it is not true. Buyer beware! Having said that, there are a few Scopereviews promotional materials floating around. I've occasionally signed photos, magazine articles, and article reprints. There are about 400 Scopereviews promotional pens out there (I usually throw in a pen if you buy something off me.) I may order more of these pens in the future and sell them to help offset growing bandwidth charges.
- What the single most commonly-asked question?
Despite all warnings (here and elsewhere) department store telescope questions outnumber all other topics by a wide margin. Sometimes (especially around the holidays) I think I am going to go mad with all these department store junkscope questions! If you have a question about a telescope you saw in a department store, please reread the beginner's advice.
- bought a star and named it after my son/grandmother/pet/etc. Can you help me find my star?
Oh, no! Don't tell me you fell for this one! Stars have been named for a long time. These "naming" services have no more validity than if you ran a piece of fancy-looking parchment through your printer. Happily, this whole star naming fiasco seems to have been dying down the past few years. Good riddance...
- Has anything interesting ever happened to you as a result of this site?
There was the guy from Brooklyn who drove up to NH to show me his first telescope, a Celestron C14. He had a Vixen 2.5 mm Lanthanum (1565X) installed and hadn't bothered putting on the finder. His complaint: "I can't seem to find anything."
- Tell me another one
I got a letter from someone who bought an Orion XT8 Dobsonian. He was complaining that the XT8 didn't seem to be any better than his 60 mm department store telescope and was starting to question my judgement. Then he closes the letter by asking "why is the telescope mounted on that big black tube with the mirror at the end of it?" Yes, he had been looking through the finder for the past few months.
- How many telescopes do you own?
Depends how you count them! If I buy a Newtonian OTA missing its primary, have I owned a telescope? If I order a scope but sell it to someone else before it gets here, have I owned a telescope? If I cull together parts from two telescopes and make another one, have I owned one, two, or three telescopes? If I buy into a large telescope with a group of friends and then sell my share before ever looking through it, have I owned a telescope? These questions are perhaps best answered by accountants and philosophers, and unfortunately I am neither.
- What was a particularly memorable Scopereviews moment?
I was scheduled as the keynote speaker at the Black Forest Star Party on Sept 15, 2001. You will notice, this was only four days after a certain tragic event. I did not want to go. Getting up and making a speech was the last thing I wanted to do. I felt like sulking around the house. But early that Saturday morning, some- thing jump-started my system and I woke up at 4AM, rented a car, and drove all day to the site in PA. Having prepared a lighthearted, humorous speech, I was concerned about making light in the wake of the events. It did not seem to be appropriate. But I didn't have time to prepare another talk, so on I went with the scheduled material. It turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. Seeing and hearing those people laugh was a great release for me, and it turned out, for the audience as well. Later that night, walking the field, the warmth of the people towards me was incredible. I was told again and again that this was the first time they were able to laugh out loud since Sept 11th. And now that I think about it, that was probably one of the best things I've ever done in my life.