Viewing Tips & Tricks

Viewing Tips and Tricks

Looking through a telescope is a thrill for all ages. Clear nights take on a new meaning after you begin observing the sky with these wonderful instruments. Ever since Galileo first pointed his to the heavens, people all over the world tried to find ways to maximize the beauty of the views. Here are a few of these tips and tricks that you can use right away.

  1. Keep it cool.
    Store your telescope in cool, dry places when you are not using it. The temperature should be the same between where you store it and where and when you use it.
  2. Find a good observation site high above sea level
    and away from city lights such as national, state and local parks.
  3. Get yourself a good sky map.
    There are several decent maps online for every location and time of month and year. These maps will show you what you can see and where they will be in the sky.
  4. Learn how to star hop.
    Star hopping is a star finding technique where you find objects through jumping around nearby stars. The technique helps you find some of the fainter objects in the sky. You move your telescope from star to star until you find the one you want.
  5. Start with the moon.
    The moon is the largest viewable object in the night sky. It is close enough that you can make great observations with only your eyes. This lets you practice using binoculars, telescopes, and other astronomical equipment as you can check them against what you can already see. Try to find the Apollo landing sites.


  6. Observe away from buildings, pavement, or other large objects.
    These objects absorb heat during the day and release it at night. This radiating heat can degrade your telescope’s image quality.
  7. Never observe through an open window.
    Either go outside or keep the windows closed. If there is a temperature difference between your house and the outside, you will notice it through your telescope.
  8. Please note that closed windows act like poor quality lenses and will affect your images.
    Aim your telescope directly at the window. This will compensate for some of it.
  9. Allow your eyes to become dark-adapted.
    This can take up to 30 minutes, but only seconds to ruin. Use only red light when working on your ‘scope. Red light is easier on dark-adapted eyes.  Buy red lens flashlights or make your own with red nail polish.
  10. Make sure all of your equipment is alighted properly including the finder scope (if you have one).
    Finder scopes are small low-quality telescopes attached to sides of your larger ‘scopes. They help you center what you see.
  11. Always start with low-power eyepieces and accessories and move up gradually.
    You can find objects easier at low power and the images are brighter and sharper.
  12. Use averted vision, which means to use the corners of your eyes, to view faint objects.
    Averted vision is more light-sensitive than centered vision and will give you a hand in seeing the more difficult objects.
  13. Be reasonable with your expectations.
    Your backyard telescope will never give you the breath-taking images you see from professional observatory telescopes. The size and scale are simply out of your league. Some of those images you see on television and online are also Photoshoped, On the other hand, your telescope and the views it gives are yours alone. Enjoy the experience.  It won’t disappoint you.