Celestial events, pandemic cause North American telescope shortage
EDMONTON -- Interest in the night sky has grown over the past year, which has led to a shortage of telescopes for sale and increased demand for courses on how to use them.
The observatory at Telus World of Science may be closed at the moment, but Frank Florian says they've had an increase in people asking about the night sky and how to use their telescopes.
"That's really great news for us. We love to see more and more people get into the hobby of amateur astronomy," said Florian.
Finding a telescope to buy has become a lot harder in the last year, and stores are finding it hard to keep up with demand.
"I would say our sales have doubled from what they would have been in the previous 12 months, so it's been very, very busy," said Ken From, owner of All Star Telescope.
Ken and Bev From say the spike in sales at their store All Star Telescope is unlike anything they’ve seen in 15 years in business.
"In 2017, we had the solar eclipse and that was really busy, but this eclipses that," said Bev.
They say many telescope sellers across North America are either out of stock or have very little available.
"Probably in the next month or two, unless we get a new shipment we could be very low on inventory and stock as well," said Ken.
Many believe this is a result of not only the pandemic but also several big astronomical events in 2020 including the Perseid meteor shower from late July into early August.
For those who do have a telescope, TWOSE has offered two online courses teaching the basics.
"You need to know the road map of the stars to find out where those areas are so that's probably the hardest part for most people with a telescope," said Florian.
He says the easiest thing to pick out is our closest neighbour – the moon.
"It provides exceptional views in almost any telescope, even small telescopes provide some pretty good views of the moon," said Florian.
The next few months will be great for viewing through a telescope, even if you live in the city.
"Even with all the light pollution in my neighbourhood, I'm still photographing the moon, the planets that are up, the International Space Station," said Florian.
The next event to look up for is a lunar eclipse on May 26.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson