A depressing feature of an otherwise cheerful Christmas was the realisation that just about everything we bought or were given seemed to have been made in China. The goods are getting higher tech, too. We seem to be moving towards an economy where we use our unique comparative advantages to make ... er ... nothing.
Still, as Tim and Chris would say, we benefit from cheap goods from China. They leave us with more money in our pockets to buy ... other cheap goods from China.
As a child I loved astronomy. As an young adult I had no money, as a parent I had no money to spend on myself. A pair of Boots binoculars was my total stargazing kit.
There have been cheap Far Eastern telescopes around for years, sold in catalogues and chain stores. The Tasco's of this world, and pretty dreadful they were.
But the Chinese upped their game. A few years back a decent starter telescope was £400-500. Now for about £280 you can buy a small but optically sound telescope with 'goto' capability - in other words you can tell it via a hand controller where to point in the sky, or choose a star or planet from a list, and it'll point itself and stay pointed as the stars move.
I wasn't prepared to pay such a 'vast amount' for the Celestron. How about a Skywatcher, made in China but with vastly improved optics from the telescopes of a few years back. They do refractors and reflectors, including some big Dobsonians at ridiculous prices - £350 for 10" aperture ?
Alas the big beasts are a pain to carry, transport and set up. And in the end it's a big boys toy which may not get a lot of use. Something a little cheaper was needed.
£165 will buy you this Skywatcher 130PM, if you go to the right place. And to my delight the right place turned out to be just a drive up the A38, where Chris Livingstone Telescopes did me one at that excellent price. Nice chap too. His telescope prices are as good as any I've seen in the UK.
He will also do you a Toucam Pro II CCD webcam and telescope adaptor at a reasonable rate.
Blogging may be light if we get a lot of clear nights.