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.