Celestron, Tasco Out of Business?
Last year Celestron created a significant buzz among amateur astronomers when it introduced a dramatically redesigned 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope that features a carbon-fiber tube and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.
S&T: Craig Michael Utter
Telescope giants Tasco Worldwide and Celestron International are once again in the news following yesterday’s announcement that Tasco is liquidating its assets after defaulting on nearly $30 million in loans. In 1998 Tasco purchased Celestron, becoming the sole owner of the California-based telescope manufacturer that changed the world of amateur astronomy when it began mass marketing high-end Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes in the 1970s.
Currently it is unclear whether Tasco’s liquidation will mean that the company is sold intact or in pieces. Late last night Celestron’s vice president of engineering, Rick Hedrick, told Sky & Telescope that despite Tasco's woes Celestron is fully staffed and “continuing normal operations” at its Torrance, California, headquarters. Furthermore, a press release issued by Celestron yesterday evening quoted company executive vice president of operations, Joseph A. Lupica, as saying “It is our intent to ensure that Celestron continues to operate as an independent company. Our senior management group is committed to guiding the Company and maintaining its aggressive new product development initiatives and manufacturing.” Indeed, the senior management group, including Lupica, Hedrick, and former company president Alan Hale, is one of several entities presently looking into buying Celestron intact.
In related events, yesterday the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) moved to block Celestron's chief competitor, Meade Instruments, from acquiring any of Celestron’s assets. Recently Meade had expressed an interest in purchasing the struggling company. In 1991 the FTC stopped a proposed merger of the two, citing that such a venture would create a “virtual monopoly in the manufacture and sale of midsize Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes.”
Celestron’s founder, Thomas Johnson, began selling Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes in the 1960s, but it was the introduction of a mass-produced 8-inch model, the C8, in 1970 that lofted the company to international status. Since then the company has claimed many milestones, including the first commercially successful computer-pointed telescope and the first telescope to incorporate Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Celestron’s dominance in the Schmidt-Cassegrain market was eventually superseded after Meade began making Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes in 1980.
This month Celestron announced in Sky & Telescope a new upgrade of its computerized 5- and 8-inch telescopes, which allows then to be fitted with optional GPS technology.
How to Use a Tasco Telescope
Place the telescope in a level, open area, unobstructed by trees, buildings and bright street lights and clear of ground clutter that could trip you during your observing session. Extend the legs fully and make sure that the telescope is stable and that the telescope tube moves freely with just a slight amount of resistance.
Select an eyepiece with the largest number marked on the side (you will probably have a 9 mm and a 25 mm) as this will give you the widest field-of-view and will make finding your target easier. Place the eyepiece in the draw-tube and lock it into place using the finger screw on the draw-tube.
Select a target (begin with the moon) and gently move the telescope tube to align it with the target by sighting down the length of the telescope. When you get the telescope roughly aligned, use the small finder scope on the side of the telescope to make any fine adjustments to the alignment.
Lock the telescope into place by finger-tightening the locks found on the mount so that the telescope does not move. Make final adjustments to center the target in the eyepiece using your hand or the tracking knobs. Because the moon is relatively close to Earth, only a portion of it may be visible in the eyepiece.
Rotate the focusing knob until you have a clear image. After focusing, remove your hands from the telescope and allow the wobble to stop so that you have a steady view.
Follow the movement of the target across your field of view as the earth rotates by using the tracking knobs or gently guiding the telescope with your hands.
Make focus adjustments periodically to keep your target view sharp and clear. You may need to reposition your seat depending on how the telescope is pointed.
TascoTasco Telescope and Microscope Set
A terrific two-piece combo from Tasco for the explorer in the family. The land and sky telescope is ideal for entry-level surveying, with 2x finderscope and 35x land eyepiece. The 19-piece 900x microscope kit includes assorted examination and preparation tools, slides and sample specimens.Read more
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DETAILSA terrific two-piece combo from Tascofor the explorer in the family. The land and sky telescope is ideal for entry-level surveying, with 2x finderscope and 35x land eyepiece. The 19-piece 900x microscope kit includes assorted examination and preparation tools, slides and sample specimens.
- 50 x 50 mm Refracting Telescope
- 35x Land Eyepiece
- 2x Finderscope
- 4/1.8 Tripod with Altazimuth Mount
- 900x Microscope
- 2x Barlow Accessory Trays
- Examination Tools
- Sample Specimens
Eyepieces35x Land Eyepiece
MagnificationsTelescope: 50x, Microscope 900x
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Amateur Astronomer's Notebook
Update for November 2002:
Tasco filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and Celestron has been "bought back" by some of the founders of Celestron. Tasco scopes continue to be marketed widely however. Some of the Tasco models have shown signs of improvement recently. For example, some of them now come with 1.25" (diameter) eyepieces. However, the eyepieces supplied are still of generally low quality. Although the change to 1.25" eyepieces on some scopes is a step in the right direction, this alone is not enough to make Tasco a recommended brand (in my opinion). Tasco markets a huge number of telescopes with all kinds of model numbers. Many of the model numbers appear to be some combination of the lens (or mirror) diameter in millimeters, the focal length, and the maximum advertised magnification. Tasco continues to claim preposterous maximum magnifications for many of their scopes (Tasco does this because they know that most people equate magnification with the "power" of the scope). Below in this article you will see that magnification is one of the least important factors to consider when purchasing a telescope!
Also: Previously, I had recommended Orion (www.telescope.com) as a source for good quality replacement eyepieces in the .965" size. Orion has dropped this line of eyepieces, so the only path is to get what is known as a "hybrid diagonal" (described below) and some good quality 1.25" eyepieces. This is actually the better way to go, the downside is that the cost of the diagonal is about $35, something that you would not have to get if quality .965" eyepieces were still available.
Update for January 2001:
There have been some changes in the low end telescope market. For one, Tasco (a marketer of telescopes that are generally considered the bottom of the barrel) has acquired Celestron (a company that has a reputation for making some good to excellent telescopes). I do not know the details of this merger but it is amazing to me that a company like Celestron would want to be even remotely associated with Tasco. Tasco has a reputation of making near fraudulent performance claims for many of their telescopes, and Tasco scopes are for the most part among the most cheaply made scopes available. Celestron has a long history of making quality products, especially the US made scopes (which include the SCTs they are famous for). In any event, I for one will now look at Celestron with a much more critical eye. If I see hints of Tasco quality entering into Celestron products, I will cease to recommend Celestron products.
Because of this merger, it is more difficult to recommend a Celestron telescope (we're talking entry level scopes here) over a Tasco (or similar low end scope) because the Celestron entry level scopes may in fact now be Tasco scopes! The entry level telescope market has gone in so many different directions in the last few years. Even Meade (another manufacturer of decent scopes) now markets a large number of scopes which are "consumerized" versions of their better scopes. Such scopes usually provide a cheaper mounting, a cheaper, smaller finderscope, and the ever present battery of worthless H20, H12.5 and SR4mm eyepieces, and worst of all, they include a 2x or 3x barlow that isn't even useful as a doorstop!
On the positive side, I have seen some Tasco scopes in the last year or so that have signs of improvement over the typical Tasco (do note that the majority of the Tasco scopes are still unchanged). The improvements noted include 1.25" diameter eyepieces and 1.25" drawtubes. Also, a few Tasco scopes actually come with eyepieces that are sensible for the scope!!! I even have seen some Meade 4.5" Newtonian scopes that have 2" focusers! This is actually overkill for a scope in this class, because most 2" eyepieces cost more than the entire Meade 4.5" scope...
This article is in no way meant make you feel bad nor is it intended to insult those who have Tasco (or similar) telescopes. The vast majority of people who have these scopes are just starting out in astronomy (and often acquired them without prior knowledge), and Tasco telescopes are marketed all over the world. Hence, Tasco is the only telescope brand that many people know. The intent of this article is to try and assist those who have invested money in a Tasco scope and who do not want (or cannot) return the unit to the retailer.
This article will explain why most Tasco telescopes should be avoided if you are to have a frustration free introduction to amateur astronomy. And, if you have received a Tasco telescope as a gift or if you fell into the "Tasco trap" and purchased one of these telescopes, this article will provide information on how to significantly improve the performance of the unit at a reasonable cost.
If you are considering the purchase of a telescope, you have likely seen Tasco telescopes in most every department and toy store in existence. If you do not yet own a telescope, the best recommendation is to avoid purchase a Tasco telescope!
What's Wrong with Tasco Telescopes?
Tasco telescopes were not always as poor as they are today. Back in the 60's and early 70's, Tasco actually marketed a decent product (excluding eyepieces). I have a Tasco 60mm refractor from 1973. It has a metal optical tube, a machined metal rear cell, all metal focuser with machined metal focusing knobs, a metal dew cap, and a decent objective lens. The tripod and eyepieces left a lot to be desired, but at least they were all made of metal. Many Tasco scopes (especially the very entry level ones) utilize a great deal of plastic. For the same (or slightly more) money, a much better telescope of similar size can be obtained (see my page Excellent First Telescopes for recommendations).
One of the problems with Tasco is that there are so many variations of their telescope models being marketed. Tasco markets telescopes to many retailers; these telescopes range in quality from extremely poor to reasonably acceptable as beginner telescopes.
Another reason to avoid Tasco: they (and other vendors of entry level scopes) often use highly deceptive "advertising" on the products they sell. Any company is in business to make a profit (and this is perfectly acceptable); the problem with Tasco is that they try to make a profit by misleading consumers. Take a look at most any Tasco telescope box, and one of the first things you will probably see is an absurd magnification capability for the telescope. For example, a typical Tasco telescope will have written on the box "675X Astronomical Telescope". Ask any seasoned amateur astronomer and they will certainly tell you that telescope "power" is not, repeat not dependent on the magnification capability of the unit. The diameter of the mirror or objective (or mirror if it is a Newtonian reflector telescope) is the fundamental specification that determines how "powerful" a telescope is. The bigger the lens or mirror, the more light that the telescope will gather, and the brighter the images. Magnification of a telescope is determined by the focal length of the eyepiece used. By using various eyepiece/barlow lens combinations, most any telescope can be made to operate at magnifications ranging from about 30x to 1000x or more. However, the useful maximum magnification for most telescopes is about 60x per inch of aperature (lens or mirror diameter). So, the typical 60mm Tasco scope has a maximum useful magnification of about 150x (FAR less than the ridiculous 675x claim...). Keep in mind however that the vast majority of observing is done using LOW magnification!!!
Getting back to the "675x Tasco Telescope"... many of the telescopes that Tasco markets with this claim are 60mm refractors. Let me assure you this: the view through a Tasco 60mm telescope at 675x will be absolutely useless. At this magnification, it would take someone experienced with telescopes just to locate the Moon in the eyepiece! The telescope tripod will be so shaky at this magnification that nothing more than a fuzzy, dim blur could be momentarily detected. Stating that a 60mm telescope can be used at 675x is like saying a Yugo automobile can do 200mph (the fine print might say "When dropped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet altitude.")! To put this in perspective, amateur astronomers with superb world class Astro Physics (brand) and Takahashi (brand) telescopes costing over ten thousand dollars rarely use magnification anywhere near 675x!
Newcomers to astronomy often associate the magnification of a telescope with quality. As an example, I had my Celestron CG-11 telescope (an 11" diameter telescope costing about $4000 for the base model) set up at a star party and some young people asked me "How much "power" is that telescope?" I told them that under the very best of conditions perhaps 500x (but I also explained that the vast majority of observing is done around 100x or below). They were astonished to learn that such a big telescope was not as "powerful" as a Tasco they owned! I have had the same conversation on many occasions. People not familiar with telescopes mistakenly believe that the magnification capability of a telescope is a measure of its "power". As stated earlier, the "power" of a telescope is directly related to the diameter of its mirror or objective (it is not related to the magnification capability of the unit!). Tasco "lures in" unknowing people (often parents shopping for a scope for their child) by stating a preposterously high magnification for their telescopes. This may be effective in selling products, but it is one step away from "fraud" in my opinion.
Eyepieces: Most Tasco eyepieces are among the most marginal quality available. Instead of providing one decent quality eyepiece, Tasco typically supplies 2 or 3 marginal to horrible quality eyepieces. Tasco eyepieces are often of the Huygens ("H") and Symmetric Ramsden ("SR") optical configurations. Huygens is among the poorest performing designs (but it is cheap to manufacture). Tasco eyepieces have very narrow apparent fields of view... often 30 degrees or less (most decent eyepieces have apparent fields of view of 45 degrees or more). Eyepieces with narrow apparent fields of view make it harder to locate items in the sky. Trying to look through a narrow field eyepiece is analogous to trying to read a book while looking through a straw. Not only do Tasco eyepieces have narrow fields, the "sweet spot" of the field that is visible is even smaller! Tasco eyepieces use minimal (if any) optical coatings. To top it off, many of the Tasco eyepiece bodies on the entry level scopes are now made almost completely of plastic. To make things worse, Tasco often supplies an "SR4mm" eyepiece with their telescopes. This is an eyepiece with a focal length of 4mm; it is a very poor choice for a beginner level telescope. It will provide magnification that is out of the useful range for the scope, and the "eye relief" of the eyepiece is so small that it will be difficult to get your eye close enough to the small hole to see anything through it (if you wear eyeglasses you can forget about looking through this eyepiece). Many Tasco telescope comes with the following eyepieces: H20mm, H12.5mm, and SR4mm. Sometimes an H25mm is substituted for the H20mm. Eyepieces with higher numbers produce smaller magnifications; these are the only eyepieces you should expect to "see" anything with (you should always start with these eyepieces first!). Anyone who tries to use a Tasco telescope with an SR4mm eyepiece will need to have incredible patience and the ability to withstand signficant frustration! My personal recommendation: If you are looking at a telescope to buy and you see it comes with an H20, H12.5 and SR4mm eyepiece set, do not buy it!
Star Diagonal: Tasco star diagonals today are at the bottom of the line in quality. As a comparison, the star diagonal that came with my 1973 vintage Tasco telescope is of cast metal construction, has two metal set screws for securing eyepieces, uses a metal barrel, and has a glass prism (note that a mirror is fine if it is of high quality, however the prism acts as a seal to keep dust out of the telescope, an added plus). Many of the Tasco supplied star diagnonals today use a plastic body, a plastic barrel, one metal set screw, and uses a mirror (at least the mirror appeared to be made of glass). Note that a mirror can be superior to a prism, however I seriously doubt this is the case with the mirrors in the Tasco diagonals. Overall the diagonal has a very "cheap" look and feel. A design engineer would be hard pressed to find a way to further cheapen this unit (what's next... a plastic mirror?).
Accessories: Tasco loads up their telescopes with accessories to make the unit seem like a better deal for the consumer. The box will sometimes claim (nothing else to buy, a "complete" telescope package)! The problem is that the accessories are often of very poor quality and of little practical use. One accessory that it often supplied is a barlow lens. A barlow lens is used to increase the magnification of the telescope; the problem is that most of the telescopes that Tasco markets do not need a barlow lens to reach the maximum useful magnification they are capable of (the exception would be short focal length telescopes, short being defined as less than about 400mm). Tasco barlow lenses tend to be of very marginal quality. Tasco sometimes includes a Moon filter with their telescopes. In fact, none of the telescopes that Tasco markets are large enough to warrant using a Moon filter! Moon filters are generally used with telescopes in the 6" (diameter) range or larger. Finally, Tasco telescopes sometimes come with a solar projection attachment. While this accessory may work, it is included strictly as a marketing boost (consumers equate more accessories with a "better deal"). If Tasco would leave out all of the extra junk and provide one (or two) good quality eyepiece(s) instead, their telescopes would have significantly better performance!
Finderscope: Tasco finderscopes are typically a 5x24 model. This means that they provide 5x magnification and use a 24mm diameter objective lens. However, the lens used in the front of these finders is a single piece of glass (as compared to the much superior two element achromat). As a result, a phenomenon known as chromatic aberration is very apparent on bright objects (this admittedly can be tolerated on a finderscope however. But here's the kicker: because the lens is so bad on these finderscopes, some of the ones I have seen use a "field stop" which effectively makes the lens equal to about a 12mm diameter lens! Overall, a "normal" 5x24 size finderscope is fine for telescopes in this size category. The problem with Tasco 5x24 finderscopes is that quality of the finderscope is rather poor (all plastic). To add to the problems, the finderscope bracket (again all plastic) uses an inadequate "3 point" locking system. This corner cutting design does not allow the finderscope to stay in alignment. If you have Tasco telescope with this type of finderscope, plan on doing a realignment each time you take the unit out for an observing session.
Construction: I recently looked at some Tasco telescopes in a department store and I was shocked at the quality of construction. Whereas my 1973 vintage Tasco telescope is fabricated from almost 100% metal components (a number of which are machined metal), some of the Tasco telescopes now made use excessive amounts of cheap molded plastic parts! All of the models I looked at had plastic rear cell assemblies, plastic focusers, plastic drawtubes, plastic star diagonals, plastic dew caps, and some even had plastic optical tubes! The tripods were typically wood or metal, but all were rather unstable. Overall the telescopes have a very cheap look and feel. I would recommend avoiding any telescope that is mostly of plastic construction.
How to Improve the Performance of your Tasco Telescope
Despite their generally low quality, many people have Tasco telescopes. Young people often receive them as gifts (no doubt purchased by parents who fell victim to the "675x Power" written on the box). Others are purchased by adults who wanted to get into astronomy but did not know that quality telescopes are rarely found in department stores. So what to do if you have a Tasco telescope and are experiencing the "I can't see a #$%**~ thing with this telescope!" syndrome? Chances are that you can't return the unit for a refund. If you are willing to invest some additional money, you can improve the performance of the telescope significantly. The minimum investment will be about $40 (depending on what scope you have). For some scopes, the amount you will need to spend is more than half of what a new scope would cost, so if you are in that situation your options are more limited.
The main reason Tasco telescopes perform poorly is that they often come with poor quality eyepieces and an equally poor quality star diagonal. Fortunately, the Tasco objectives (or primary mirror for reflecting telescopes) still seem to be of decent quality. The upgrades to your Tasco telescope will consist of new eyepiece(s) and a new star diagonal (note if you have a Newtonian Reflector scope DO NOT purchase a star diagonal as it IS NOT NEEDED and WILL NOT WORK with a Newtonian reflector telescope.
One of the first things you must do is understand and accept the fact that low magnification is where your Tasco telescope (or any telescope for that matter) will perform at its best. For the typical Tasco telescope, low magnification means 30x - 40x. On the flip side, the highest magnification that should be used with the typical Tasco telescope is in the range of 90x to 150x. Always remember that most of your viewing will be done with low magnification! At 100x, the instability of the typical Tasco telescope tripod will be all you can handle (the shaking gets magnified along with the image), plus the object being viewed will move out of the field faster at higher magnficiation (unless you have a tracking drive)! The only area where the higher magnification is really useful is when you are looking at the Moon, planets and double stars (but you will find it a lot easier to initially locate such objects using a lower power eyepiece).
To determine which accessories you'll need for your particular Tasco telescope, you will need to look up some information on the telescope (fortunately the necessary information is usually marked on the telescope). Specifically you'll need to determine the focal length of the telescope and also the diameter of the objective or primary mirror. This information is usually located on a sticker near the eyepiece area of the telescope. A typical marking might read "D=60mm F=700mm" (another common one is D=114mm F=900mm). "D" refers to the diameter of the objective lens (or mirror) in millimeters; "F" refers to the focal length of your telescope (again in millimeters). You might also see a marking such as "F8" or "F11.7"; this is the focal ratio of the telescope (the focal ratio is often used when judging the suitability of a telescope for astrophotography, smaller numbers mean less exposure needed). Finally, you will need to determine what size eyepiece barrel your telescope uses; it will be either .965" or 1.25". To determine which one you have, measure the barrel diameter of one of your eyepieces with a ruler (the barrel end is typically the "shiny" end, the end opposite that which you look through). Here's another tip: a 35mm film canister will fit perfectly in the eyepiece holder of scopes which have 1.25" eyepieces (they also make great dust caps for diagonals). If you can fit a 35mm film canister where eyepieces normally go, you have a 1.25" system. Once you have these basic information listed above, you can determine which items to purchase in order to upgrade your telescope.
Upgrade Options: There are three basic paths to choose from when considering an upgrade to a Tasco telescope. They are as follows:
- Obtain one quality eyepiece (approximate cost $55) NOTE: If your scope uses .965" eyepieces you MUST go to the next option!
- Obtain one quality eyepiece and a new star diagonal (approximate cost $90)
- Obtain two quality eyepieces and a new star diagonal (approximate cost $150) (Note: If you plan to spend this much you might as well abandon the upgrade idea as you can get a new telescope for that cost).
REMEMBER: Note that if your telescope is of the reflecting type (uses a mirror instead of a glass lens for the light gathering element) DO NOT purchase a star diagonal (it will not work with reflecting telescopes)! Chances are you won't be able to bring the scope to focus because of the additional length the diagonal adds to the light path.
Source for Quality Components: There are a number of vendors who offer quality accessories for improving "department store" telescopes. I personally recommend products offered by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars. I recommend Orion as I have used their products for 20+ years and find them to be of very high quality.
Which Eyepieces do I Select? If your budget allows only one eyepiece you should select one that produces a low magnification. If funds allow, another eyepiece can be selected that produces a higher magnification (note that by "higher" I mean around 100x, not the absurd 675x that Tasco provides!). Eyepieces are available in a various focal lengths (this is the number written on the side of the eyepiece). The magnification produced by an eyepiece depends on what telescope the eyepiece is used in. To determine the magnification that a particular eyepiece produces, divide the focal length of your telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece. Example: The focal length of your telescope is 700mm and you wish to know what magnification a 25mm eyepiece will produce. Divide 700 by 25 and you get 28; this eyepiece/telescope combination results in a magnification of 28x.
Path 1: Obtain One Quality Eyepiece: As mentioned above, if your scope uses .965" eyepieces (or diagonal), you cannot use this option (go to path 2 below)! For scopes that take 1.25" eyepieces, use the list below (based on the focal length of your telescope) to find the recommended eyepiece:
Path 2: Obtain One Quality Eyepiece and a Quality Star Diagonal: Make sure you know whether your telescope takes .965" or 1.25" eyepieces . If your scope does use .965" eyepieces, you must purchase what is called a "hybrid diagonal". A hybrid diagonal fits into a .965" drawtube but it accepts 1.25" eyepieces. If your scope takes 1.25" eyepieces )or diagonal), use the following list to determine which star diagonal to purchase:
Remember: If your telescope is of the reflecting type (uses a mirror instead of a lens), do not purchase a star diagonal!
As far as eyepieces are concerned, the recommended choices are the same as those listed above for Path 1.
Important: Be sure to consider what this upgrade will cost compared to what you paid for the scope. If the upgrades are going to cost more than about half the cost of the scope you might be better off buying a completely new scope (one of decent quality all around). If you are in this jam see my page for recommended scopes: Excellent First Telescopes
Path 3: Obtain Two Quality Eyepieces and a Quality Star Diagonal: For selecting the star diagonal see Path 2; for the first eyepiece, see Path 1.
Your second eyepiece will be one that produces a higher magnification, high enough to allow you to discern some fine detail on things like the Moon, planets and double stars, but not so high of a magnification to result in blurry, shaky images. As before, make sure you know which size eyepieces (.965" or 1.25") your telescope takes. Then use the list below to determine the recommended second eyepiece:
Important: Be sure to consider what this upgrade will cost compared to what you paid for the scope. If the upgrades are going to cost more than about half the cost of the scope you might be better off buying a completely new scope (one of decent quality all around). If you are in this jam see my page for recommended scopes: Excellent First Telescopes
Help! My telescope focal length is different that any you list! Not to worry. Chances are it is close to one of those listed above. Just pick the one that is closest; the exact magnification numbers will be slightly off, but the basic performance will be the same.
Have more money to spend? If you want to go "one better" in quality, you could consider the Orion Telescopes and Binoculars Sirius Plossl series of eyepieces (see more about them on my Telescope Eyepiece Fundamentals Page. These eyepieces are of very good quality and will allow any Tasco telescope to perform to its limits. The Orion Sirius Plossl eyepieces are a bit more expensive than the Explorer II eyepieces. The Sirius Plossl eyepieces are a good choice if you plan to move up to a better scope in the future. These eyepieces offer performance that is very, very good, to get significantly better performance you will have to spend a LOT more $$.
Not Just Tasco!
While Tasco appears to be the most popular brand of "department store" telescopes, be aware that there are others out there as well. Other brands to carefully scrutinize include Bushnell, Jupiter, and Saturn. Even some of the Meade and Celestron telescopes (brands previously known only for the high quality instruments they offered) are nothing more than cheap "mass market" telescopes.. More than likely, if you see the telescope in a department store or toy store (K Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, etc.) it is most likely one that would not be the best choice for a first telescope. The only place I have seen quality telescopes for sale in malls are in "The Discovery Store" (however some of the scopes they sell fall into the "avoid" category so be careful).
If not Tasco, what should I Buy?
If you have not yet purchased a telescope (or if you want to move up from Tasco), Orion Telescopes and Binoculars has offered (and continues to offer) some of the best telescopes for people just starting out. My page Excellent First Telescopes suggests several models (for most any budget) that are all outstanding choices for a first telescope. Orion's web site has a number of good tutorials on how to pick a telescope. As mentioned previously, I have dealt with Orion a number of times and the service has always been very good. See my other article Advice for first time telescope buyers formore on picking out a good first telescope.
While I do not recommend Tasco telescopes to a beginning astronomer today, I will admit that I my first telescope was indeed a Tasco. As I mentioned earlier however, the Tasco telescope of some 25 years ago was a much better unit (especially as far as physical construction was concerned) as compared to most of the Tasco scopes available today. I did manage to see quite a bit with my Tasco telescope, especially after I obtained a good quality low power eyepiece for it! Of course, back in the mid 1970's the light pollution problem was far less than it is today. If you do have a Tasco telescope do not let it cause you to give up on astronomy without giving astronomy a "fair shake". If you have a Tasco telescope you are by no means alone, and you can have some acceptably good viewing from the unit if you make the upgrades described in this article (or if you cannot afford an upgrade at least use the eyepiece with the lowest magnification). The upgrades described will do nothing for the stability of the telescope, but it will result in a nice overhaul of the optical performance. Resist the temptation to use high magnification! You really will see a lot more using low magnification. Any experienced amateur astronomer will testify to this statement.
A reader did write in and made a suggestion for improving the stability of Tasco tripods. Basically you add weight to the tripod. To do this, hang a weight (5 to 10 pounds) from the center of the tripod (make sure to keep the center of gravity low to avoid having a topheavy scope). I have not personally tried this upgrade but I do believe it will work.
It is hoped that this article will save some of the people who might have otherwise given up and dropped out of astronomy due to sheer frustration caused by a Tasco (or other similar) telescope. The people of Tasco will not like this article to be sure, but I do not like to see so many people (especially young people) having so much frustration with a telescope that promises too much!
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We offer an exceptional collection of Tasco reflector and refractor telescopes with added features for easier, more spectacular viewing. It's 1/2s a great big universe out there, but Tasco telescopes can help you cover it with Tasco high-quality, feature-packed telescopes. Whether you's 1/2ve got a term paper due or you's 1/2re trying to impress someone by pointing out an obscure galaxy, trust Tasco telescopes to provide the bright, clear and crisp images you need in an easy-to-use, easy-to-own telescope.
OpticsPlanet, Inc offers a full line of original Tasco Telescopes with full manufacturer's warranty and Free Shipping on orders over $49!
For the United States Navy ship, see USS Tasco (SP-502). For the Colombian municipality, see Tasco, Boyacá.
Tasco (also known as Tasco Worldwide) sells consumer telescopes. Tasco mainly imports telescopes for amateur astronomers but has expanded into other optical products, such as spotting scopes, microscopes, binoculars, telescopic sights, and other rifle accessories. Tasco sells via retail stores, catalogs, and online retailers. Tasco is based in Miramar, Florida. George Rosenfield founded the firm as the Tanross Supply Company in 1954. It started as a distributor of fishing tackle and hardware. The name was later shortened to Tasco as its offerings expanded to include binoculars and eyepieces.
Tasco's astronomical telescopes have a poor reputation. It is one of several companies that follows the deceptive practice of advertising their products based on claims of high magnification, far beyond any attainable usable magnification. Tasco's telescopes tend to be pejoratively referred to as "department store telescopes," low-quality and low-cost instruments targeted at impulse buyers.
Tasco imports binoculars with magnifications ranging between seven and ten power. They also offer Snapshot series binoculars, which include an ability to record video and capture still pictures as seen through the binoculars. Users can transfer images to a computer via a USB cable. Tasco provides software for viewing and printing photographs taken on its devices.
Tasco imports telescopic sights for rifles, and handguns featuring magnifications of 1 to 40 power. They also import non-magnifying red dot sights.
Tasco offers several spotting scopes. These scopes are designed for rugged outdoor use and feature rubber armor protection as well as optional camouflage. Models have magnifications between 12 and 45 times, and feature panoramic view finding.
Tasco was founded by George Rosenfield in 1954. In March 1996, Rosenfield sold the business. At that time, Tasco employed 160 people at its Florida headquarters, and maintained a location in the state of Washington, which employed another 40.
In June 1998, Tasco purchased Celestron, another telescope manufacturer which focused on performance optical equipment and the more serious observer. Celestron was second only to Meade Instruments Corporation in sales of telescopes.
Early in 2001, Tasco began searching for a buyer as profits sank. Meade Corporation begins negotiations for a merger, but the Federal Trade Commission blocked the attempt.
By June 2002, Wind Point Partners, then the parent company of Bushnell Performance Optics purchased the Tasco brand and all the company's intellectual property.
In July 2007, Wind Point Partners sold Bushnell Performance Optics along with Tasco property and sales rights to MidOcean Partners, a private equity firm based in New York and London.
On September 5th, 2013, Alliant Techsystems announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Bushnell. Under the terms of the transaction, ATK paid $985 million in cash, subject to customary post-closing adjustments.
ATK spun-off Vista Outdoor upon closing its merger with Orbital Sciences and became Orbital ATK on February 9, 2015. Anyone holding ATK common stock at the end of the business day on February 2, 2015 received two shares of Vista Outdoor common stock. Eligible shareholders had their brokerage account credited or received a book-entry account statement reflecting their ownership. Vista Outdoor was thus initially 100% owned by ATK shareholders. Vista Outdoor stock traded on a "when-issued" basis from January 29, 2015 to February 9, 2015. It began "regular way" trading on the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2015 under the ticker symbol "VSTO." No payment or action of any kind was required of shareholders. This transaction was conducted on a tax-free basis. Shareholders subject to American taxes generally did not have to recognize a gain or loss for federal tax purposes.
On May 29, 2002, Tasco Worldwide initiated liquidation of all its assets. after defaulting on nearly $30 million in loans. The company had been searching for a buyer for several months, but after much interest by Meade Corporation, the Federal Trade Commission, on this day, sanctioned a temporary restraining order in federal district court to preempt any attempt by Meade Instruments Corporation, the leading manufacturer of performance telescopes in the United States, to purchase all, or certain assets, of Tasco Holdings, Inc. including Celestron, a subsidiary, and number two performance telescope provider in the U.S. The FTC argued that an acquisition by Meade of Celestron would negatively impact the performance telescope market by eliminating significant competition between the two companies and by creating a monopoly in the market for Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, which were currently only being sold in the U.S. by Celestron and Meade.
Later in 2002, Tasco and Celestron, then under the ownership of Bushnell Performance Optics, filed suits also in the District Court of California, alleging Meade products infringed on a United States patent entitled "Tripod Structure for Telescopes." Both companies sought injunctive relief and compensatory damages in an unspecified amount, and attorneys' fees and costs. In December 2002, the District Court denied the motions of both parties.
- ^ abhttp://www.company7.com/celestron/news/tasco.html accessed Sept 17, 2007.
- ^ abcPhilip S. Harrington, Star Ware: The Amateur Astronomer's Guide to Choosing, Buying, and Using Telescopes and Accessories, John Wiley & Sons - 2011, page 80
- ^Rod Mollise, The Good Tasco, Uncle Rod's Astro Blog. Sunday, July 13, 2008
- ^Michael Borgia, Human Vision and The Night Sky: How to Improve Your Observing Skills, Springer Science & Business Media - 2006, page 1
- ^NIGHTWATCH: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe, Terence Dickinson, ISBN 1-55209-302-6 , Third Edition, pg 65: "Trash-Scope Blues"
- ^Cristline, Linda (27 April 2019). "Global Binoculars Market 2019 Major Players are Bushnell, Nikon, Tasco, Pulsar, Steiner, Zeiss, Olympus, Simmons, Leica, Canon, Ricoh, Meade Instruments, Kowa". Canyon Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
- ^"RIFLESCOPES". Tasco. Tasco.
- ^"Spotting Scopes". Tasco. Tasco. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
- ^ ab"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2007-09-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) accessed Sept 15, 2007
- ^MidOcean Partners and Management Announce Acquisition Of Bushnell Outdoor Products, Inc. from Wind Point PartnersArchived 2007-11-11 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ATK Completes Acquisition of Bushnell Group Holdings, IncArchived November 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- ^Clabaugh, Jeff (9 February 2015). "Orbital, ATK complete aerospace merger". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- ^Depass, Dee Dee (9 February 2015). "Alliant spinoff, merger completed". StarTribune. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- ^Lee, Jackson (13 January 2015). "3 Top Defense Stocks That May Benefit From New Congress". 24/7 Wall St. New York, New York. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- ^Miramar, Fla.-Based Binocular, Telescope Distributor Starts to Liquidate. The Miami Herald (FL), May 29, 2002.
- ^Di Cicco, Dennis (23 July 2003). "Celestron, Tasco Out of Business?". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
- ^"MEADE INSTRUMENTS CORP, Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date May 29, 2003". secdatabase.com. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
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