EU Astronomy Online Stores

astronomy shops EU

Before Brexit, despite living in the EU, I generally shopped online in the UK for my astronomy equipment as the selection and prices were better, but due to delays and import issues post Brexit, my choices have shrunk – here I review 6 EU Astronomy online stores.

Written by Jonathan Eames
October 10, 2021

Why the review?

I live in Spain and prior to Brexit, all my equipment needs were taken care of very nicely by certain UK online stores who were happy to ship door to door to me here in the Valencia Community.

Since 1st January 2021, this has all changed. Not only is shipping now more expensive and lengthy but we now have customs and taxes hurdles to get through and pay import duties and VAT on top for these normally high valued goods. Half the battle is hoping your goods even make it out of the customs hall, that’s too much a risk for my liking for expensive and delicate telescope equipment . So sorry UK shops, but I am forced to shop locally in the EU now.

I do miss a couple of my favoutite UK stores who always gave me great service and prices – the UK market is very competitive and prices usually match very closely however after a recent warranty repair service shipping issue with customs post-brexit I strongly advise you not to buy (if you are EU based) from the UK. In the end, at no fault of the Store (who were absolutely great), the reparied item was rejected and sent back to the UK and could not be delivered by DHL (who also demanded more money from me for customs clearance costs) despite the piles of paperwork being in order. I finally picked it up in the UK personally during a family visit (by car) but only after a wasted 3 months of endless emails.

Why is this harder…

Well it shouldn’t be but the clue was why did I use UK shops when living here before Brexit? That boiled down to:

  • Higher delivery costs;
  • Higher Prices – even before a slump in the £ to Euro rate, prices were generally higher in Europe, less competition perhaps?
  • Less choice;
  • Trust in the online retailers;

What I look for in EU online shops

  • Price!
  • Clear availability and lead times;
  • Shipping costs
  • VAT rate – this varies by country (and store turnover) you may not get your home VAT country rate applied.
  • Country they are based in… I avoid UK shops looking as if they are EU and direct from China delivery.

Disclaimer

This review is purely based on my personal opinion – I am not affiliated to any store and have not received any inducements to favour or discredit any store.

Methodology

To try and be objective and fair to each store, I have considered several factors to base my opinion on.

  • A basket of well-known items that should be available in most stores. All prices were advertised online by each store on 9th October 2021 in € and all have been shown excluding EU VAT to enable a fair cost comparison.
  • Shipping costs
  • Web site design and functionality
  • Site catalogue – can I find most products I need that I would expect for a good retailer?

In no particular order, here is a list with some details of the stores reviewed with a link to each…

Online Store

Country

Retail Stores

Own Brand?

Finland

None

Germany

Germany, France & Poland

Italy

Italy

Spain

Spain

Germany

Germany

Poland

Poland

And now the fun bit, the basket of goods reviewed for each store. These are items that I might buy myself so this is not meant to be overly scientific but I thinks represents some random examples of common stuff. For each item the price in red is the highest, and in green the lowest. Further down is a review of each site in depth with finally my conclusions.

Type

Item

AstroArt

Astroshop

Technosky

Teleskop Express

Teleskopy.pl

Telescopio-mania

Camera

ZWO ASI 120mm Mini mono

133.06 €

156.74 €

146.72 €

158.80 €

136.00 €

152.85 €

Camera

ZWO ASI 2600MM-P Camera

2,176.61 €

2,443.61 €

2,294.26 €

2,478.15 €

2,149.00 €

2,421.45 €

Mount

iOptron CEM 70

2,132.26 €

2,298.58 €

2,376.23 €

2,403.36 €

n/a

n/a

Mount

iOptron CEM 70 with Guider

2,308.16 €

2,648.06 €

2,704.10 €

2,800.84 €

n/a

2,644.58 €

Mount

SKY-WATCHER EQ6-R PRO

1,587.90 €

1,645.29 €

n/a

1,595.80 €

n/a

1,235.49 €

Filter

Optolong L-Enhance 2"

168.55 €

173.29 €

163.11 €

180.59 €

187.00 €

181.77 €

Filter

ZWO LRGB 36mm filter set

184.68 €

197.62 €

181.14 €

200.84 €

n/a

182.60 €

Filter

Optolong LRGB 36mm Set

187.10 €

n/a

213.11 €

226.05 €

n/a

240.45 €

Filter

Optolong LRGB 2" Set

241.13 €

282.72 €

n/a

268.07 €

280.00 €

292.52 €

 

AstroArt  – Detailed Review

    I have only had good experiences (recently) with this store and the owner has communicated personally with me on some technical and delivery issues which was very helpful. The web design is very easy on the eye and easy to use, a modern shop front well designed. They seem to be very competitive on pricing for most items and shipping costs are low so I will be revisiting them, funds permitting.

    Item

    Rating

    Comments

    Web site design

    Very clean modern design, good technical product descriptions

    Store search capability

    Easy to use, type ahead results with further filtering results

    Stock levels shown

    Most products show whether in Stock.

    Shipping costs (to Spain)

    Shipping costs seem low comparitively, orders over €400 appear free, under €9.9 using DHL Economy

    Multi-language / currency

    English (GBP) and Finnish (€) supported

    Personal Experience

    Personal & Technical interactions were good - owner is enthusiast so knowledgable on Products.

    Catalogue Content

    Most commonly expected items found.

    Pricing

    Generally cheaper then most online stores

    Astroshop.eu  – Detailed Review

      I have not bought from this store as yet, their catalogue seems quite large and they cover most major brands but their pricing is not the lowest.

      Item

      Rating

      Comments

      Web site design

      Old fashioned design, wasted screen display

      Store search capability

      Search is adequate (type ahead) with limitied filtering of results. Search terms expected do not always give results.

      Stock levels shown

      Availability clearly shown.

      Shipping costs (to Spain)

      Mutlpie shippers, costs variable by weight from €6.9 upwards, no free shipping

      Multi-language / currency

      Mutli langauage and currencies

      Personal Experience

      Not used them as yet so cannot rate them.

      Catalogue Content

      Large catalogue

      Pricing

      They seem expensive generally compared to the competition

      Technosky  – Detailed Review

        I have not bought from this store – the lack of T&C’s and a Privacy policy worried me. Their site seems aimed mainly at the Italian, market. I am also not sure if they adjust VAT to the shipping country rate, it seemed to stay at the Italian 22% rate. Its odd that you cannot add a product to the basket if its out of stock, thats very self limiting in these times where shipping delays are becoming normal. Having said that some of their astrophotgraphy filters were very well priced and they do have their own brands.

        Item

        Rating

        Comments

        Web site design

        Nicely designed modern site but let down by missing Terms and Conditions, Delivery info and Privacy pages - not legally or GDPR compliant therefore.

        Store search capability

        Search is adequate with filtering that does not always work so it can be slow to find what you require.

        Stock levels shown

        Availability is shown- if out of stock you cannot order products!

        Shipping costs (to Spain)

        Appears to be €9, shippers unknown

        Multi-language / currency

        Only Italian, payments in €.

        Personal Experience

        Not used them as yet so cannot rate them.

        Catalogue Content

        Limited catalogue 

        Pricing

        They seem reasonably competitive on pricing but shop around to check prices

        Teleskop Service – Detailed Review

          I have  bought from this store – they have their own brand components like filter holders and some of their hardware is good. The catalogue is big but the web site is clanky. Sadly they are a tad expensive…

          Item

          Rating

          Comments

          Web site design

          Poor dated design making it hard to see items. Products are not well categorised.

          Store search capability

          Search is poor with no filtering - it can be slow to find what you require.

          Stock levels shown

          Stocks levels are clearly shown

          Shipping costs (to Spain)

          Flat rate shipping by country irrespective of weight  - €40 flat charge to Spain

          Multi-language / currency

          English and Polish supported, payments in €.

          Personal Experience

          Not used them as yet so cannot rate them.

          Catalogue Content

          Struggled to find many common items, a limited catalogue.

          Pricing

          They seem competitive on pricing

          Teleskopy.pl – Detailed Review

            This store does have some competitive prices on some items surprisibly but you have to get past the limited catalogue and clunky search. Surely though not worth it for low value items as the shipping cost is at a high fixed rate no matter the weight or what you spend. I got the impression this site was more visual astronomy focused rather than astrophotography…

            Item

            Rating

            Comments

            Web site design

            Poor dated design making it hard to see items. Products are not well categorised.

            Store search capability

            Search is poor with no filtering - it can be slow to find what you require.

            Stock levels shown

            Stocks levels are clearly shown

            Shipping costs (to Spain)

            Flat rate shipping by country irrespective of weight  - €40 flat charge to Spain

            Multi-language / currency

            English and Polish supported, payments in €.

            Personal Experience

            Not used them as yet so cannot rate them.

            Catalogue Content

            Struggled to find many common items, a limited catalogue.

            Pricing

            They seem competitive on pricing

             

            Telescopiomania – Detailed Review

              I have bought a camera from this store but delivery took a while as unknown to me, it was not in stock – by the time I got it, prices had dropped elsewhere. I think retailers should not take payment (just maybe a deposit) until an item arrives in stock and can be dispatched, customers should not carry their credit risk. As seems common is Spain, free shipping rarely happens no matter how much you spend. They seem to have a lot of offers showing but even the offer prices shown are still not the cheapest around so shop around.

              Item

              Rating

              Comments

              Web site design

              Poor dated design making it hard to see items. Products are not well categorised.

              Store search capability

              Search is poor with no filtering - it can be slow to find what you require.

              Stock levels shown

              Stocks levels are clearly shown

              Shipping costs (to Spain)

              Flat rate shipping by country irrespective of weight  - €40 flat charge to Spain

              Multi-language / currency

              English and Polish supported, payments in €.

              Personal Experience

              Not used them as yet so cannot rate them.

              Catalogue Content

              Struggled to find many common items, a limited catalogue.

              Pricing

              They seem competitive on pricing

               

              My Conclusions

                Well done for getting so far – I was pleasantly surprised that the recent growth in our hobby has meant new stores are available in Europe at much better prices than before. The old established ones need to reflect on this if they are not to lose market share to them. 

                Here are my conclusions

                1. I think some stores really need to update their web sites – shops windows matter!
                2. Prices matter – this is an expensive hobby and saving a few hundred euros can be key to being able to afford new gear – shop around – different stores vary on prices for different items, that’s for sure.
                3. Don’t get caught by low prices and expensive shipping.
                4. If a shop will not display stock, either go elsewhere or email them.
                5. Long delivery times seem more normal now as most stuff comes out of China but shopping around, you can sometimes find stock.
                6. Be careful with delivery estimates – it is difficult for stores to be accurate as the supply chain post-Covid is complex  – for high value items, its sometimes its better to wait and watch for stock to appear and then quickly grab it, prices do change, usually downwards and you have no credit risk.
                7. Pay by credit card to insulate yourself from their credit risk when there are long delivery times.

                I really welcome your comments and happy to include some other EU shops in this review if you would like to recommend some to me. I would welcome comments on your experiences with any of these shops (but I will only publish comments on real issues not competitors slagging each other so I may ask you privately for proof you shopped there). If you are a shop owner, please also feel free to respond in the comments.

                You may also like…

                No Results Found

                The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

                0 Comments

                Submit a Comment

                Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

                ©2020 IoAstro.com - Astronomy Automation.

                IO Astro