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Easy Guide to Set Up Your Telescope

Now that you have made your purchase and have gotten your telescope, it’s time to assemble it. You may think that this is a hard task to do, but nothing is impossible and with a little help it can be done! The aim of this guide is to help you set up your telescope as easily as possible so you can start your stargazing adventures. Lets begin!

Reflector Telescope FYI

You first need to know that the screw on the bottom of a reflector telescope should NOT be tightened. Yes, I said NOT. These screws are important because they are used to align the primary mirror. Your images will suffer because they will not be in alignment if the screws on the reflector telescope are tightened. It can even cause the mirror to come loose and you will have to begin again and reassemble the telescope. So please remember, do not tighten the screws on the bottom of the reflector telescope.

Finder Scope Adjustments

Now that we have that covered and the telescope is properly assembled, lets continue with adjusting your telescope. You will need to adjust the finder scope, which is the small telescope on top of the main one. This initial adjustment will be much easier for you to do during the day than the night, just because it will be too dark for you to properly do then. First, insert the eyepiece, which is marked by a big number on the telescope, and focus on an object in the distance. Once you have focused on an object, center it in the eyepiece field of view and lock it securely into position on the tripod. After you have locked it into position you need to adjust the finder scope into position in which the object that is centered in the eyepiece is also centered in the finder scope. Remember, the distant object should be centered and visible in both the eyepiece of the main telescope and in the finder scope. Of course, when you are observing the stars and galaxies in the night, a few minor adjustments will need to be made to have a more precise view.

Adjusting Mounts for Manual Telescopes

Of course, adjustments will vary with the type of mount you will be using. In the case of a Manual (non-computerized) mount it is easy because no adjustments will be needed. All you have to do is point your telescope at the object and starting observing! It can’t get any easier than that! On the other hand the computerized equatorial telescope mount is a whole other story to get set up. You will have to polar align your telescope, which means align the mount with the North Star. You will find the same instructions in your manual. As for computerized telescopes, in most cases they will require that you polar align with the point north as a start and then you can input additional information. You can input the following: latitude and longitude, date and time or nearest large city. In this case, please follow the instructions in your manual for more details.

Telescope Observing Locations

Observing the same thing can be look differently from different places, locations and set ups. Of course, your view will be depending on your current location, time of year and how far you are willing to travel to find the best spot for your activity. In general, the best location to properly gaze at the sky would be in rural areas far away from the city lights. You will usually find “light pollution” in the city because of all the building and streetlights, which will cause the objects to look much fainter than if observed in a clear area. You should know that under a dark sky, with no light interference (including the moons) a small telescope could match the performance of a larger telescope while its used under a light polluted sky.

Telescope Observing from your own home

In movies you see people observing through the window, or from their living room. You should not follow the influence of the movies, observing through the window will only reduce the performance of your telescope. You can always observe from the comfort of your own home, but try to do it outside away from buildings, patios and other objects that absorb heat during the day. This is recommended because the objects will radiate heat back into the sky and this will create air currents that will lower image quality in your telescope. The best option would be to set it up in your backyard, away from streetlights.

Can you start observing after you have set up your telescope?

The answer is initially yes, but it comes with a no. What that means is you can technically start observing right after you have set up, but both you and telescope will not be operating efficiently. For starters, the human eye will need at least a half-hour of uninterrupted darkness for the pupils to adapt to the situation and open to their fullest. Just like anytime you go from a bright light area to a dark area, you need time to properly see again. Also, any exposure to bright light will cause your eyes to adapt to bright light again. That is why it is recommended that when you want to see the controls on your telescope, read a star map and look for something in your bag, you should cover your flashlight lens with layers of red. Whether its red plastic, or red paint or even layers of red nail polish, it will help lessen the effect on dark-adapted eyes. This means you won’t need to wait too long after properly observe through the telescope after reading the star map. In terms of the telescope, it requires time for the optical system to “cool” and adapt to the temperature of the night. You should wait for the cool time, because while it is cooling, the lens will be changing shape therefore giving distorted images. The cooling time for a larger telescope will be about the same time your eyes need to adapt to the dark, thirty minutes maybe a little bit more.

Things to Remember Before Starting the Adventure

You should remember that stargazing is a night activity; this means that it is probably going to be cooler than the daytime. Dress warmly, consider bringing an extra sweatshirt if you live in warmer areas or even get a thermostat with warm hot chocolate! Also, to have an easier and efficient stargazing night, consider having an observation plan. Choose some objects that can be seen from your location and during the time you want to go, and set your self the goal to find them! There are many websites and magazines that can tell you objects that can be visible at night during specific times of year, or any time of the year and from which areas!

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