Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Right of Passage: The "Nope Scope" or why we love to hate the Department Store Telescope!

Two things I have to give Andrew Wareing credit for. One is the concept of the "Nope Scope", the department store wonder (telescope) that we have either luckily avoided or unfortunately (or our parents) bought into. The Nope Scope is also a "Right of Passage", I guess a sort of "hazing" for the uninformed beginner observer. Okay, maybe hazing is too strong a word, but you get the picture. Again, Andrew gave it this label.

I can't part with it. My mom who is no longer with us gave it to me. So it has sentimental value. I just wish the performance had that same value.

20 years later, a whole bunch of scopes later, I still can't use one right. I unearthed my Blacks Camera Magnicon 234 (234 for the power it could reach...hahahahahaha! Yeah right!) for the first time in eons. I gave it new legs because the old legs were falling apart, but they weren't the original goofy legs. I don't know where they are. Garbage I suppose. It's a little more stable now, if you call it that. The finder is horrible. The focuser is just as bad and the view is dim. It was upgraded from a 0.965" to a 1.25" hybrid diagonal, but the entire field of view can't be viewed in 20mm or more eyepieces. Oh well. So I put an 18mm Plossl in and the view, while dim, was not all that bad. I wouldn't say it knocked my socks off. I also turned it to Almach, a favourite double of mine. I was lucky I found it in the finder, but the view is so bad, I can hardly aim it. But I managed and the view, while again dim and narrow, was not all lost.

So I sized it up against the old Refractor (I can just hear the giggle in the background. Yeah you guys! SUG, Drive-By, Andrew, NSG). You can see where this is going. Well first, no contest and second, I still can't really aim this thing. And it's marketed to beginners???? Wha???? If I can't use it, do you really think the beginner with zero experience could use it? That, and the shaky yolk mount doesn't help things at all, will just add to the frustration.

Thinking of buying a scope like this for a budding enthusiast? Want to destroy that enthusiasm? Go ahead and buy it then. But remember this well: If I am unable to aim it, someone with more than enough experience, just how will a beginner?

Here are some pics to laugh at.


  1. I Love this post Marc. Love the "nope scope" I know we have all have experienced this with department store scopes and continue to discourage people from purchasing these.
    I actually have about 6 of these same scopes (purple tubes same mount)that were donated to our club by "The Science Kit/ Edmund Scientific" . They had called me and asked if I would like to pick through their "telescope Graveyard" which included other better telescopes of which one was an Astroscan that is really quite nice. All had some damage, parts missing or were just returns. So I did greatly appreciate their donation and many work very well when doing outreach.
    I have tried these small refractors and they certainly are very difficult to use and very frustrating. I even stopped using them with my astronomy mentoring class in the city as the kids would get frustrated and bored very quickly with them. Maybe your right it is the equivalent of a hazing with the result of total discouragement of kids away from astronomy.
    Love the pics... we would never laugh.....too hard!
    I would keep your scope though just for the memories.

    Ive also been on a bit of a Double Star mission. Putting the Cambridge to good use.

  2. Hey Marc, glad you did this. Your last paragraph sums it up well indeed. The perils of owning one of these must be bought to the general public! The Drive By Guy in NY has to stop selling them out of the trunk of his car to uninformed. Somebody stop him!!!!!!!!