The feeling of viewing distant planets, moon, star clusters, galaxies, lunar features and unique nebulae is really indescribable. To feel that you’ll need a good telescope.
If you have just bought your first telescope, you might be asking yourself, ‘How to use a telescope?’ or, ‘How to set up a telescope?’ Right?
Using a telescope may seem difficult, but if you learn the basics and practice then it’ll be an easy thing to do for you.
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to make out the most of your newly bought telescope. We’ve simply described everything. Let’s start!
How To Use A Telescope
Part 1: Getting A Telescope
Consider Telescope Types
You will need different types of a telescope for different types of viewing. There are basically three types of telescopes. They are Reflector, Refractor and Catadioptric.
Consider Your Living Area
The power level of telescope depends on your living area. So, you have to consider your living area while getting a telescope.
If you want to watch bird with your telescope, then it will be better not to choose a reflector telescope.
If you’re planning to use your telescope in night and lives in a frequently dewed area, then you can consider getting a catadioptric or refractor type telescope.
Consider Your Objects
The third thing is to consider what you want to look at your telescope. You will need a telescope with sharp resolution, high power and good contrast for viewing objects like the Moon, closer stars and planets. On the other hand, you’ll need a big reflector telescope and bigger aperture for viewing nebulae, galaxies etc.
Consider the Power Capabilities
Here people make mistakes. They think high power means better viewing and higher resolution, but their thinking is wrong. High power dilutes the image’s brightness and amplifies any blurriness.
Part 2: Understanding The Telescope
Learn the finderscope
Using a telescope can be a little bit of challenge for the first time users. But the finderscope makes this much easier.
When you’re looking through the telescope, you are seeing a very small part of the sky. But when you look through the finder scope, you see a lot more of the sky than the scope itself.
Finderscope is typically attached to the side of the telescope. It usually has some kind of crosshair which help you to know where the center is.
Firstly, you can find something with the help of finderscope and then you can look at the telescope. You will be amazed, how much easier finderscope make it to find things.
For example, an 8x finderscope covers a place about the size of a golf ball. But a 50 power telescope can only cover a place about as small as the fingernail on your small finger.
Learn the mount
There are major types of telescope mounts. They are Altazimuth and Equatorial. You’ll need to know which type of mount you have so you can learn how to operate your telescope.
- Altazimuth Mount is sometimes called alt-ez. It is simple than the equatorial type. They are two-axil mount allowing you to move your telescope in two directions- up/down and side to side. This type of mount is very easier for beginners to operate. When you have telescopes with altazimuth mount, you can simply move the scope up/down or left/right to point at whatever object you want.
- The equatorial mount is a bit harder to use. It has two different axes. Telescopes with equatorial mount allow users to follow the rotation of the sky as the earth turns. The polar axis needs to be aligned to the North Star. It will then follow the rotation of the sky.
Equatorial mounts are bit harder to use and takes more time when you want to look at a different star or planet.
You have to unlock the axis and take focus at the heavenly body with the help of the finderscope and lock it once you have the general location. For making smaller movements, you’ll use the panhandle or slow motion cable controls.
Learn the tripod
While using your telescope, ensure that the three legs of the telescope are properly balanced. Because the telescope can fall over and damaged if the legs are not balanced properly. You should look for places that have a level and flat area for your telescope.
Part 3: Scanning the sky
Learn the night sky
You will need to determine what you’re looking for before you start tromping around in the dark with your newly bought telescope. Maybe you’re very interested in meteor shower or want to check out the planets. You will need to find out place, weather, timing etc.
- If you want to watch the stars, then going out on a moon-lit night won’t get you very far.
- Read books on stars and constellation. These books will tell you which is the best time for watching stars and planets.
- Examine sky charts to know where to point the telescope when you’re out in the dark condition.
- You can create sketches of the planets and moon to train your eye. Doing this will help you to look more closely at the sky and watch the details.
Select Your spot
You have to select what you’re looking for and where it will be. It will need to have a place with solid level ground and accessible at night.
You should also keep in mind that, going up on a high roof can get you away from the light pollution. This will allow watching more clearly. So, you should consider light pollution.
While choosing a spot, avoid blacktop driveways and concrete. Because they can make thermal issues for your telescope. You should also avoid decks. Because footsteps on a deck can make vibrations in the image.
Before you begin fiddling around at night, you should practice setting up the telescope and pointing to the right object.
For practice, you should start with the lowest power eyepiece and point the main scope at an object about 30.5 m away like a tree. Then center it in your crosshairs and ensure that it’s clear. Now, use a high powered one and try again.
You should dress properly when you’re having a big night out with the stars. If the weather is cold, you must take warm clothes with you.