When you get a new telescope, it can get a bit confusing! Putting it together is one thing. Then you get it outside, you’re in the dark… what’s next?
How do you set up your telescope so that it’s easier to use once you get it outside in the dark?
The Stargazers Club WA Team have come up with the top five things we do to set up a telescope before taking it outside at night to stargaze.
Make Your Tripod as Solid as You Can
Telescopes always sit on a tripod or a base of some sort. Many telescopes come with very light, flimsy tripods that move easily when bumped or when a light breeze catches the telescope tube. It makes the image in the telescope shake which makes viewing more difficult. The image may be lost altogether if the tripod is easily bumped out of position. Try and make your tripod as solid as you can.
Line Up the Finder Scope
All telescopes should come with a finder scope on the side of the main telescope tube. There are several types of finder scopes. Your might have a red dot finder or a finder scope with cross hairs in the middle. Before you use the telescope, the most important thing to do is make sure the finder scope is lined up with (or pointing at the exact same object as) the main tube of the telescope.
Use the Eyepiece With the Largest Number
Hopefully you have a 10mm eyepiece or perhaps a 20mm one in your telescope kit. When you first start to use your telescope, start with the eyepiece with the largest number on it. The larger the number means the lower the magnification. This makes it easier to see the object clearly in the telescope. Remember, the more you magnify an image, the less clarity it will have.
Lining Up an Object to See
To find an object in the night sky, use your finder scope or red dot finder first to locate the object you’d like to look at. The finder scope has a much wider field of view and makes it easier to find something in the night sky. Once the object is centred in your finder scope, then look through the eyepiece. The object should be in the centre of your eyepiece too!
Focusing Your Telescope
Get familiar with focusing your telescope before you take it out at night. Near your eyepiece, there will be a focuser which you can adjust to bring the object you’re looking at into a clear picture. Lower magnification means the object will appear smaller in the eyepiece but should give you a crisp and clear image.
Now that you’re on your way, friends with telescopes might start asking you “How do I use my telescope?”
You could organise a star party get together for a social evening under the stars. You’ll be able to help others and you can explore the Universe together!
get more out of your telescope!
Stargazers Club WA is especially for beginners! Join a class and you’ll soon have the stars at your fingertips. Non-members welcome.