Astronomy-related Gift for an 11-year Old

Q: My nephew William (11 years old) loves astronomy and I remember you saying that you love teaching kids about astronomy.  Any suggestions of things out there on the market that could be cool?

A: If you want William to be the envy of me, and almost every other amateur astronomer on the planet, shell out $20K and get him a Meade 12″ LX200 OTA, Losmandy Titan mount, and an SBIG ST1100. Short of that, there are a lot of cheap (low cost, low quality) telescopes and binoculars out there that might be tempting, but I would avoid them as they usually lead to disappointment. Worthwhile equipment, even entry level, is too expensive for an 11-year old, so what’s left? I think an age-appropriate book. Try Amazon and search on “astronomy for kids.” You can pick your price range with a single item or by picking a few. Given that he is a boy, and already interested, I would avoid the “cartoony” books and go for something more realistic, with real photographs.

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