One of the Cornerstone Projects for the International Year of Astronomy is for the "Galileoscope," with the goal of creating a small, inexpensive telescope kit that can be given away at star parties. The price ceiling the organizers are shooting for is $10 apiece.
I couldn't help but think of the Galileoscope as I paged through the Sunday ad for the CVS drug-store chain. There was a "department-store" telescope for $15. This model from Vivitar (an $80 value?! Yeah, right) is not quite what the Galileoscope folks have planned for their product.
If I had gotten a $5 coupon from CVS as part of my Sunday-morning purchases of newspaper and bread, I may have bought one already — just for the heck of it. I still might.
It reminds me of the cheap scope I would set up in front of the Learningsmith store in Harvard Square when I worked there part-time. The 50-mm refractor was good enough to show the rings of Saturn, the phase of Venus, craters on the Moon, or project sunspots. And many a passerby appreciated the view.
I dunno. What do you think? Anyone out there buying one?