Choosing a Telescope for a Child

Recommendation 5: Skip the GOTO systems
Telescopes that come with GOTO can automatically go right to the desired targets just by tapping buttons. Cool right? While many stargazers love GOTO, for children starting out, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Here's why...

⤫ GOTO adds a level of complexity that must be mastered. Most require you to enter location and time data and then point the telescope precisely to alignment stars. Do anything wrong and you won’t be finding anything. Accidentally turn GOTO off or bump the telescope and you must start over.

⤫ Good GOTO typically adds hundreds of dollars to the cost. The GOTO found with less expensive telescopes is often not very accurate and the GOTO on some mid-range telescopes can't be turned off preventing you from ever using the telescope manually.

⤫ GOTO becomes something of a crutch because, by using it, one doesn't have to learn the night sky. For many stargazers learning the night sky and hunting for targets is a big part of what it is all about.

So we recommend that you choose a telescope without GOTO for a child's first telescope. But we do acknowledge that many kids today love electronic gadgets and GOTO may be hard to resist. So, if you do want GOTO we then suggest you spend enough to get good quality and make sure that the telescope can still be used if GOTO is off (or breaks).