Archive for November 7, 2017

Does Anybody Remember Science Hobbies on Central Avenue in Charlotte?

November 7, 2017

I will always remember purchasing my first telescope from Science Hobbies in Charlotte, North Carolina during the mid-70’s.  It was an Edmund Scientific 4 1/4-inch f/10 reflector. Science Hobbies sold mostly Edmund products, and always had a big 8-inch Edmund f/6 reflector sitting in the window.  The 8-inch would have been my dream scope at the time, but the cost was well over $600.  The year was 1976….and this was far beyond my budget.

I was looking at both the Edmund 4 1/4 and the larger 6-inch Super Space Conqueror.  I really wanted the 6-inch with a much heavier equatorial mount, but had to settle for the smaller scope, due to the cost. 

Throughout the years, I always enjoyed going to Science Hobbies.  It was fun to see the latest from Edmund, which included telescopes, eyepieces, and other fun science products.  I bought a lot of stuff over the years from that little store.

I also purchased The Finest Deep-Sky Objects by Mullaney and McCall, a Tirion Atlas.  One item I really like and use is an eyepiece shelf which mounts on the pedestal and will hold six eyepieces.  I also purchased all of those old, but fabulous astronomy books written for Edmund by Sam Brown and Terence Dickinson.  I still use them on occasion.  

A sad day:

It was a Saturday, back in the late 90’s, and I said to my wife Debbie “hey lets ride down to Science Hobbies”.  Debbie always enjoyed going to a shopping mall after my spending a couple of hours looking at telescopes, etc.  We drove into the parking lot, something did not seem right, there was no telescope sitting in the window.  The rusty sign that had been hanging over the front door for many years was missing.  I got out of the car and pressed my nose on the front door.  Oh no…..the store was empty!  The store had closed!  

The last time I had been there, one of the clerks told me that business had been slow.  This concerned me a bit…..I was the only person in the store.

I really miss that place, spending time and looking at astronomy equipment “live” and not on the pages of a catalog.  Retail stores are having a difficult time these days, regardless of what they sell.  It’s really hard to compete with the internet, and mail order.  

If you have problems via mail order it can be quite difficult having to box up a defective product.  I had to return two Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes quite a few years ago.  One would not focus, and the other had a serious problem with the drive.  It would have been great if I could have checked them out in a store before taking them home.    

The good thing….all major astronomy equipment vendors online have excellent return policies, should there be a problem, or if the product does not meet your expectations.   

All of my astronomy purchases are now online, since the closing of Science Hobbies, which has now been almost twenty-five years.   However, I still miss those Saturday afternoons, looking at astronomy equipment.  

Roger Ivester

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