Second Hand Astronomy Equipment

I’m sure this is a highly emotive subject. But this is the question should you buy 2nd hand astronomy equipment?

I myself have bought and sold lots of astronomy equipment, either through AstroBuySell, Stargazers Lounge or eBay. But there seems to be so much astronomy equipment constantly on the second hand market, I wonder how many people have actually owned some of the items and how many ‘hands’ have touched them. I imagine there must be items that are constantly being passed onto the next person.

There are of course savings to be made on buying second hand equipment, which is the main reason we buy it. But sometimes it’s just nice to pay that little bit extra and have the assurance that you are buying new and that the item will come with at least a one year warranty.

The thing that makes me laugh is when people try to sell astronomy equipment when it only costs about another 10-20% to buy it new.

Selling your items not on eBay is the best thing to do as you don’t pay the eBay and PayPal commission, but I do think your items may go for a higher price on eBay just because of the number of visitors that eBay has.

You also have to watch out for dodgy astronomy sellers – they are out there. It’s always best when buying larger equipment to check the history of it, if you look on the archives in AstroBuySell or search the forum on Stargazers Lounge or search on Google, you may find some information on your item – especially if it has been bought or sold before.

Most astronomers look after there equipment very well, but I still like to have the end caps on an eyepiece and have the item boxed. That tells me that the owner has looked after the equipment, plus it means that the original box with help when I come to sell the item on.

Make sure the item works, and make sure the item is complete in everyway, it’s also advisable to see an image of the item when buying it. I have purchased a couple of items that did not work, like an illuminated reticule which did not illuminate! I asked the eBayer for a refund to help me fix it, but I did not get one. In the end I visited Maplin bought a new cable and an LED and fixed it.

If you are a seller and know something is wrong or missing, please be truthful and tell us about it, and don’t try and hide it and hope we as the buyer don’t find out about it.

Once you get hooked on the second hand astronomy items, I swear you never go back to new items unless you have to. I have lots of second hand equipment and I love it. But sometimes I wonder if I am mad, sending complete strangers hundreds of pounds for equipment I have never seen. So please think twice before buying, and if the item is over a couple of hundred pounds or so then why not visit the person and collect it – that is as long as it’s not too far away – especially with fuel costs being so high.

So should you buy 2nd hand astronomy equipment over new?

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