So you bought a new telescope…Or, little Bobby just got one for Christmas. Now what?
In western Colorado we are blessed with access to wonderful night skies, and people often ask: “What telescope is the best?” The answer literally is: “The one you use the most.” So take it out of the box!
Here are some basics whether you have a refractor, reflector, go-to, or point-it yourself instrument.
First, it really does pay to read the instructions when putting your new telescope together. Telescopes come in many configurations, and some with “go to” pointing systems can initially be mystifying. Get to know your scope indoors. It’s a lot easier than in the dark.
Is the tripod or stand stable? It needs to be. You want to avoid your equipment wobbling or falling over by an errant bump.
Does it have a finderscope? This is a scope or device that is mounted on the main telescope along the same line of sight. It has a wider field of view so you can find the object you want to see. Make sure the finderscope is properly aligned with the main telescope. Do this in the daylight too.
What kind of eyepieces came with your telescope? Sometimes the ones that come with starter telescope packages have more magnification than is easy to use. Too much magnification results in a smaller field of view, and the sky is a big place. Using a lower magnification makes it easier to find what you are aiming at. Imagine how hard it would be to find the Moon through a straw.
Start with a few easy objects to find, and be patient. You and your new scope are not the Hubble Space Telescope.
The internet can enlighten you on terminology and suggestions for starting to view the night sky. Your local astronomy club is a great resource for learning about equipment and observing techniques. Attend a public viewing session.
The Black Canyon Astronomical Society will be holding a “Learn Your Scope” public event on March 4th at Cerise Park in Montrose. Bring your scope if you can! See BlackCanyonAstronomy.com for more information.
Western Slope Skies is produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society. This episode was written and recorded by Joyce Tanihara.