I don't know very much about telescopes; I used one a few times as a kid, but that's about it. I understand the general design & use of reflectors & refractors, but I don't know enough to decipher focal length, etc. So, I don't feel comfortable trying to DIY my own contraption, that won't be nearly as good, assuming it works at all.

I'm looking to buy a minor telescope (a few hundred dollars [US] or less) to view the American Total Solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017; and possibly reuse for the Mercury transit in 2019. I'm a decently well off computer programmer, so blowing $200 (& some gas to drive up-state) for a one off just to experience the Solar eclipse is worth it to me, even if I don't use it again.

I spent a few hours wandering around the internet for something, and I found a few styles of "Projection Screens/Scopes" that are really cool, but I can't find anywhere to buy them. The first is an image that several websites used as their article's banner image, but none say what it is or where to get it.

Solar Telescope Projection Screen

I found another one, where a guy hacked together a projector scope from an old 8mm film projector.

8mm projector scope

I've found many DIY tutorials to roll-your-own out of dixie cups & Pringles cans, but as I said before: I'd rather not waste my time fumbling with that, since I'd probably screw it up; I'd rather pay money to get one that's good quality & done right.

I've wanted to buy a big light bucket for years now, so I can start looking at nebulae & planets, but never got around to it; mostly because I'm not sure what to buy. I've been looking at the "Orion SkyQuest XX14i Dobsonian" for a while, but never pulled the trigger. Given that the eclipse is only 3 weeks away, I figured something smaller would be a faster choice in the short term.

I found the "Celestron EclipSmart 50 50mm f/7.2 Alt-Az Solar Telescope" that comes with a backpack storage bag, for \$100. It has a built-in (i.e. non-removable) solar filter, & a collapsible tripod. But that seems pretty cheap; is \$100 for a telescope like that normal, or is that a poor quality trap for laymen like me?

Do yall have any advice on something to get for the solar eclipse? And is there anywhere to get a professionally made projector screen like that, so I can watch the multi-hour process from a chair rather than bending over for 2 hours? (p.s. I'm 6 foot 3 inches tall) Also, if possible, being able to record video of it on my Samsung Galaxy S6 would be cool, but not required if that's a big deal.

Thanks for your help,



1 Answer 1


For your purposes, I'd really recommend just purchasing the EclipSmart. The telescope itself is of reasonable quality. If you have a camera tripod, bring it with you to view the eclipse$-$the stock tripod is so flimsy as to be useless. If you dont have one, buy one. Additionally, you should invest in different eyepieces. The telescope comes with a 20-mm EP, which will provide relatively low magnification. I'd recommend getting a 6-mm EP, and possible an intermediate one as well.

Clear skies!

P.S. I would recommend against getting the XX14i as your first telescope. I think instead you should get a smaller EQ, in the 4-6-in bracket. Having to manually find your target will teach you much about the skies, and having to do so with a smaller aperture will humble you. I worked a 4" Alt-Az for a decade as a kid before moving to a 4.5" EQ for a year, and then finally an XT12i as a highschool sophomore. Having to find my targets in my relatively bright skies made the sights I see through my 12" that much more incredible. I think allowing yourself the same experience will be a decision you won't regret. Don't fall for aperture fever!

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, I think I'll get the EclipSmart. Will any camera tripod work, or is there a certain kind I need? $\endgroup$
    – Yurelle
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Yurelle the standard camera mount used for DSLRs and the like will work fine. $\endgroup$
    – user14781
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 2:23

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