Galileoscope First Impressions

The Galileoscope is a $15 kit that allows you to build a refracting telescope. I ordered mine in mid-May and it arrived Tuesday of last week. The first thing I noticed is that it’s made of fairly lightweight plastic. What did I expect for $15?

The next think I noticed is that the included instructions are just bad. They refer to parts of the telescope without actually telling you what they look like. I’ve never actually used a telescope before, so I was just guessing on putting it together.

I wanted to test the full out-of-box-experience, so I did the best I could. Maybe I would get lucky.

Once I had it what seemed to be properly built, I had to wait for clouds to clear. It seemed the skies were cloudy everything evening.

Finally, I saw that the skies were clear this evening just as the sun set. The moon was up, so I decided that would be my first target object.

The Galileoscope does not come with a stand (what did I expect for $15?), so I put it on my camera tripod. Given its utter lack of weight, my tripod was plenty strong enough.

Being a refracting telescope, everything is rotated 180 degrees, so the image is upside down and backwards. That will take some getting used to as I adjust the subject in the viewfinder.

It also showed just how hard it is to do fine adjustments on my current tripod head. Hopefully the Wife will remember the gimbal head on my birthday list.

After working through my own insufficient capabilities and equipment for a while, I managed to pull the almost half moon into the viewfinder. I then began slowly focusing the image. It kept coming more and more into focus and the image was amazing. Clearly, the optics on this camera are impressive.

The clouds returned after a few minutes, so I came back inside. I jumped on the Galileoscope website and discovered a new set of instructions available for download. I’ve just printed them, and at first glance, they look much better than what came with the telescope.

One thing I need to figure out is how to transport the telescope. It doesn’t come with anything resembling a carrying case.

Another thing I’ll be working on is how to use the Galileoscope for astrophotography. I’ve got the parts needed to attach them on the way, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am attaching my $1,500 (well, when I bought it) Nikon D200 onto the end of the Galileoscope, which is then attached to the tripod.

For one thing, I expect it would be quite over-balanced. For another, I’m not sure the plastic would hold. Perhaps I can attach the tripod to the camera body and stick the Galileoscope out from it. I won’t know until I receive the parts to connect them.

If I can’t use my Nikon D200, I expect my Nikon Coolpix P80 would do the job, although it has considerably more noise on long exposures than the D200.

All in all, the Galileoscope delivers quite a bit of telescope for the price. Actually, it would be quite a bit of telescope for five or six times the price.

5 Comments on “Galileoscope First Impressions

  1. Marcello

    Hi! I’ve just received my galileoscope too, i admit i had some problems with the assembly instructions too, but in the end i managed to build. It’s real fun to use, once you adapt to the 180° rotation (at first it was driving me mad).
    I was wondering how could it be used for photography and stumbled on your page. You say you had the parts for attachment on the way… What kind of parts do you need? Where did you find them?


  2. Brian Combs

    You need two items:

    – A 1.25″ Camera Adapter
    – A T-Mount for your particular camera

    The 1.25″ is a standard size adapter for astrophotography and should be available from most quality camera equipment sources. It slides in where the eyepiece for the Galileoscope goes.

    The T-Mount connects your camera to the adapter. They are specific to the camera.

    Unfortunately, the adapter does not screw into the telescope. It is held in by friction alone. As a result, my digital SLR (Nikon D200) wouldn’t work as the weight of the camera kept pulling it out of the scope.

    So, I’ve got the t-mount for my digicam (Coolpix P80) on the way. My hope is that it’s light enough to work.

  3. Shepherd Scopes

    Can you buy replacements for the galileoscope? I lost a thin eyepiece ring and i emailed the website but they said that they cant answer me personally is there anywhere else I can buy a replacement?

  4. Brian Combs

    I haven’t seen anywhere to buy parts, unfortunately.

  5. James Jason Wentworth

    One rarely-seen type of mounting would make the Galileoscope convenient for tracking artificial satellites as well as for viewing the Moon, planets, and other celestial objects.

    I’m sure you are familiar with the 1950s-vintage “Project Moonwatch” telescopes that most of the volunteer satellite trackers used. The most common type appeared to be a wide-field refractor that was pointed *downward* at an angle to view an attached, small flat mirror that reflected the sky scene above; this arrangement permitted the observers to sit at outdoor tables while comfortably looking downward, much as one would look through a microscope while seated. Here (see: ) are photographs of this type of satellite tracking telescope. Now:

    A Project Moonwatch-type, downward-angled telescope mounting “tray” (including a small flat mirror) would enable the Galileoscope to be set on a solid support such as a table, wall, or wooden fence for vibration-free viewing of satellites and natural celestial objects. The mirror’s mounting could (optionally) be movable (hinged like a make-up “compact” mirror), and the mounting “tray” (which could be made of ABS plastic, like the tube of the Galileoscope–or it could even be made of corrugated cardboard) could have latches or connectors that would permit the Galileoscope to be quickly mounted to–and removed from–the mounting “tray.”

    – Jason

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