A Strongly Worded Letter

The following views expressed are made by an overly cautious person.
They do not represent the management or staff of Late Night Astronomy.

A few weeks ago, I was shopping in our local Dollar Tree and noticed a telescope for sale.  For the most part, it was your regular twenty dollar department store scope, but something was a little different about this one.

You see, when department store telescopes are packaged they tend to come with elaborate pictures of the moon, planets or galaxies signifying to the buyer that you can see this through the telescope.  The problem is you can’t.  Those pictures were taken by the Hubble or some other high dollar telescope, which leaves most people confused and frustrated that they can’t see the quality that is displayed on the box (I’ve fallen for this before, with a scope I got from Wal-Mart).

However, something was even worse about this telescope’s packaging.  This box had a picture of a nebula, a close up of a satellite and a picture of the Sun.  That’s right, the Sun!  I laughed at how ridiculous it was to put a picture of the sun on it as an object that could be viewed and then I got a little concerned.  I started to think about “little Jimmy” who comes into the store and gets his parents to buy him the telescope that has a nice big picture of the Sun on it and decides to go out and do some viewing during the day (This is how my mind works).

So, I decided to write an email to Vivitar, the company who sold the telescope.  Seriously, I wrote them an e-mail, this isn’t a joke!

I noticed in a store today that your telescope has a picture of the sun on the box.  I thought this might send the message to some kids and adults that it would be fine to look at the Sun through the telescope.  If a person were to do this it could lead to serious eye damage or blindness as I’m sure other warnings in the instructions inform the buyer.  I don’t mean to ridicule your product and I’m sure your company meant nothing by this picture being added, I just thought I would point out that it might not be a good idea to put a picture of the sun on a telescope box for people as they might think this makes it an object that can be viewed by the telescope.

Have a nice day,

Michael Martin

Yep, its hard to tell how many thousands of children’s eyes I saved with that e-mail.  All in a days work I suppose, all in a days work!

The culprit!!!

3 thoughts on “A Strongly Worded Letter

  1. While I commend you for speaking your mind, some things of note: the box did have what I would consider the appropriate magnification for a 60mm refractors. So at least they were not doing the same ole trash scope thing.

    While I agree about the picts of the sun and what not, I do so only halfheartedly. Their job is to market and sell the scope and in a day and age where personal responsibility has damn near disappeared. I would side with the manufacturer in this particular case if some “poor child” had eye damage from very unwisely pointing it at the sun. If not as just to add balance to this seemingly unbalance world we live in. The parents are where the responsibility lies.(period). And our giving that responsibility collectively or singularly away just opens the door to the possibility that some other entity has more right to (y)our children than we do. I say this as a parent. Because as far as my kids are concerned, the buck stops at my desk.

    I would [u]truly[/u] be surprised if there wasn’t a sticker or tag on the focuser warning about viewing the sun.

    I know there was a good measure of kidding and I’m not some ole fuddie duddie… just like to keep it simple, live and let live, just seems like every where you turn, “children” are just used as pawns for the simple sake of power over one group or another.

    Keep up the good fight 🙂
    I went to Spruce Knob and Lake (in the daytime), this past weekend and man, it was a lot less time than I originally thought it would take… but my wife and kids want to take a weekend/ vacation down there… and you can tell they are awesome skies… I can’t wait to show my daughter what the night sky really looks like. She’s never seen the milky way, for that matter I don’t think any one in my family has. Their minds are going to be totally blown. 🙂

  2. You’re right about the magnifications, except for the picture of the satellite, that picture would have to be taken from about 5 feet away, lol.
    I appreciate your comments and agree with you about personal responsibility, I just got a kick out of them using a picture of the sun on the box.
    I looked up some pics of Spruce Knob Lake on Google. Looks like a really nice place to visit. I’m about to do a post on the milky way sometime this or next week. The other night, I thought part of it was cloud cover coming in because of how bright and dense it was. Truly and amazing sight in dark skies!

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