Decided it was time my 9 year old son had a "real" telescope, not the 50mm cheapie, with the useless mount, he had. Neil turned me on to a bargin......a brand new in box, Hardin 6" f8 Dob for $99. The base for it was long gone, but Sean at Sean's Astronomy Shop, threw in an old base that had been sitting around and needed some TLC.
I spent most of the day repairing the base, but it was time well spent. My son loves the scope, and was blown away by the view of Saturn......crystal clear. I know there are other opinions out there, but I think it is very hard to beat the planetary views in a 6" f8 Newt. I have looked through a wide variety of scopes.....some very expensive.....and have still not seen a significantly better view of Saturn at 200x or less. Certainly, there are large aperture scopes that can occasionally use much higher power, but they cost many, many times the cost of this low-priced Newt.
The view of M13 was not as spectacular, but my son was impressed that we could resolve individual stars at 133x. It was a school night, so I had to send him to bed at 11pm (mom thought that was way too late), but I can't wait to show him the Dumbbell and Ring nebulas. They should show up quite well, even from our light poluted driveway.
This weekend, we are heading to Maupin, in central Oregon for a star party. This will be the first time my son has seen the night sky from a truly dark location. It ought to be fun to see his reaction. We are not campers or wilderness hikers, so it is rare for us to get away from the city........to see the sky far away city lights. Star parties are a great (safe) way to get out in total darkness. Although I have been using telescopes since the early 70's, I was 64 before attending my first star party........I was a teenager (boy scout) the last time I saw the sky from a dark location. That first view is spectacular! I had completely forgotten what an amazing sight it is. I'm sure my son will remember it for a long time.