Monday, November 2, 2009

Life insurance for your telescope.

A while back I was reading on Cloudy night forums about a 10" telescope that someone bought for a cheap price. The mirror looked like it had been sitting under a sprinkler for the past 10 years. It was scratched, the coatings had mildew on it. It was in sad shape. A fellow astro friend of mine, Rick, rebuilt an 8" telescope that was tossed in the trash by a family that lost their son, who was making the telescope.

Stories like these really make me wonder what the future will bring for my telescopes. One post on the thread about this badly damaged 10" telescope summed it up very well:

"For those of us living in households where our wife/SO/kids aren't tuned into astronomy much at all, and for whom our equipment represents at best some mildly interesting clutter they put up with as part of the package of having us around: THIS MIRROR REPRESENTS ONE POTENTIAL VERSION OF "THE FUTURE THAT MIGHT BE" FOR OUR SCOPES AND EQUIPMENT, UNLESS we keep our immediate family members accurately informed of the potential $$value of our equipment (if kept in decent condition) as well as its tremendous usefulness to some other astro-enthusiast, (again, IF passed along in decent condition). Whoever originally owned the scope this mirror was in either died, or else moved away or completely lost interest and track of this scope. Whoever was in charge of the household it was located in simply did not recognize or place any value on it beyond being a bulky piece of junk (to them), but it was out of the everyday way enough to not be bothered much about it, and so it was left as long-ignored clutter in unprotected space,. Point is, even if the scope had no attraction or use to them, the custodian would still likely have taken much better care of it had they had better sense of its potential worth. It would have been simple to have kept the scope wrapped in heavy-duty plastic to protect it from grime and moisture.

My wife is totally supportive, yet at the same time totally uninterested, in astronomy, and I buy all of my astro-equipment out of another modestly income-producing hobby. So, although I'm not hiding anything from her about the amounts I've invested in scopes, eyepieces, etc, for a long time neither was she informed at all about their true value. Every now and then when I'd come across a story similar to this one, I'd have a daydream nightmare where something happened to me and I passed on, and my wife's holding an estate sale and my Naglers are on a card table with a sign "$10 apiece, three for $25". And my dob is up for sale (in extremely poor, dusty, rusty condition) for $25. So finally I informed her, hey if something happens to me don't casually give this stuff to Goodwill or sell it cheap at some yard sale - it's really worth several thousand dollars altogether, get someone from the astro-club who knows what it's worth to help you unload it for near fair value, or else help select an appropriate donee to give it to.

Unless you do this, your equipment may be allowed to deteriorate neglected until some person may eventually come along like the OP and buy the scope, recognizing that while it needs LOTS of work to get it back into useable shape, they might just have something here, but at best they'll have to put several hundred dollars into it to get there. Everyone concerned would have been much better off had it been kept in better shape all along, and sold for more money that the purchaser would otherwise have to sink into refurbrishing it anyway."
- FirstSight