How To Use A Telescope
Telescopes rank among our planet’s greatest innovations. While they are complex in composition, they are quite easy to wield. It is important to note before using a telescope the exact location you will be setting one up in. To choose your location properly, go outside when the night is clear and look around for a location that will allow for optimal observations. The best areas to do this at will be where the view is unimpeded so as to allow a greater range of motion and viewing. You will also want to escape from the lights of the city into a more peaceful airspace where light doesn’t cloud your view of the stars. This is due to light pollution. However, if you cannot leave the city then try using your telescope on a rooftop.
The location of your camping site for setting up the telescope should be one that is both comfortable to you, and is ideal for use. Sheltered areas offer a lot of shading that is ideal for telescopic use. This is because the light will be shielded from your view and will give you a clear view of the sky. When it is day time, you should look for a set up site that is leveled. This will give your telescope a good balance so you don’t accidentally trip while looking into outer space! Setting up on a deck or something similar might present a problem however because of footsteps that cause vibrations. The best sites are on the grass as they do not cause vibration or thermal issues to the same extent as decks and sidewalks.
Now that you are ready to go with your observing site, it is time to learn how to use a telescope. First, align your telescope’s axis to the pole star using the equatorial mount if you have one. If your telescope uses an altazimuth mount then this is not necessary. Second, remove the dust caps from your telescope. Make sure that the tripod legs are secured so you don’t lose sight of a hard to find object because your tripod gave in. Start by using the lowest power eye piece, and focus it. By using the finder scope, locate a test star by loosening the axis. Once you locate the star in your finder, tighten the axis. Next, adjust the focus on your eyepiece to give a clear view of the star you just found. You will notice that star moves west. The direction will always be west no matter your eye piece’s orientation. Equatorial mounts are equipped with slow motion cables that can track the star, while altazimuth mounts make use of a pan control for following the object manually.
On the equatorial mount, unlocking of the axis is necessary for each new celestial object you move to. Using the finder to locate objects, lock up the axis every time you find a new object. Then you will use the slow motion cable or panhandle controls to adjust to the “movements” of your object. It is important to start off with a low power eye piece first in order to find objects easier. Once you are locked onto an object you wish to study then you can switch to higher magnifications.
After use of your telescope it is vital to the life of your equipment that you refasten its dust caps. Optics that become foggy should not be wiped off, or you run the risk of leaving scratches on them. Instead, let them dry off naturally from the air.