There are so many exciting things to see up in the sky above every night.
While we may struggle to see celestial objects with our eyes, telescopes can help us bring them closer.
But what’s a telescope made of and how do you use it as a beginner?
It can be tricky to figure out how to use a telescope as a beginner, and many of the tutorials and guides seem to go over your head.
Well, no more! In this article, we take a look at the basic parts of a telescope and how you can use it if you are new to observing.
Parts Of A Telescope
A telescope is made up of many parts. Some are very simple, some more complicated.
The main parts of a telescope are:
- the optical tube
- the mount
- the eyepiece
- the finder scope
- the objective lens
Each part has its function. Let’s take a look at each one.
The Optical Tube
This is the central part of your telescope. It sits on top of the mount and it’s essentially where all the prisms and lenses do their magic.
The most common material for an optical tube is acrylic. This material is lightweight and easy to work with.
The mount is where your optical tube sits. It allows you to move the tube and hold it in place.
There are two types of mounts available for telescopes; a Dobsonian mount or an equatorial mount.
Both work well and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
A Dobsonian mount works best if your observing site is not too far from your home base.
The advantage of this type of mount is that it allows you to use any tripod you want.
You don’t need to buy a special tripod because the Dobsonians come with them.
An equatorial mount is better suited to observers who want to take their telescope to observe out in the open.
Equatorial mounts are lightweight and easy to pack up.
They usually cost less than Dobsonian mounts but they do require a special tripod.
The eyepiece is what lets light into the telescope. It essentially magnifies the image on the inside surface of the eyepiece.
Eyepieces come in different sizes. Small ones let in lots of light and give a large field of view.
Larger ones let in less light and give a smaller field of view.
Eyepieces are usually attached to the front end of the telescope using a set screw.
This means that you can remove the eyepiece without damaging the telescope.
The finder scope is used to help you align the telescope with objects in the sky.
It can help you locate stars, planets, and deep-sky objects.
If you know how to read a star chart, then understanding how a finder scope works will be easy.
There are two common types of scope finders: optical finders and red dot finders.
Red Dot Scope Finder
With a red dot scope finder, you will need to look at a glass screen with a light red dot to indicate an object.
Red dot finders need a battery to operate.
With an optical finder, you line up the object with the crosshairs in the eyepiece.
Then you turn the telescope until the object lines up with the crosshairs.
Usually, an optical scope finder is much easier to use and it doesn’t need a battery to work.
The objective lens focuses the images onto the eyepiece.
The size of the objective lens determines the magnification power of the telescope.
Magnification power is expressed as times 10. For example, a 200 mm refractor has a magnification power of 20X.
That means that when you put it on the telescope, you get a picture that is twice as big as what you would normally see with your naked eye.
The higher the number, the larger the object appears.
Practice Moving Your Telescope
Now that you know all the individual parts of your telescope, it’s time to practice how all these pieces work together.
It’s best to initially set up your telescope in a well-lit room of your home.
This will allow you to explore your telescope during the daylight, and you can move around easily.
You should also make sure that no obstructions are blocking your line of sight.
Once you’ve got everything ready, you’re ready to start moving your telescope.
First, loosen the lock knobs on your mount, then move the optical tube in the direction where you want to go.
You can then lock the knob again to ensure your telescope stays in place.
This is the easy way to make sweeping movements across a large area of the sky.
For smaller movements, you will find that your mount has a couple of options for slow-motion control.
You may be able to control this with either the knobs or cables on your mount. This depends on the type of mount you have.
If you are not sure if your mount offers slow-motion control, then it’s best to check the telescope’s user manual.
Using the slow-motion control feature will allow you to see individual objects through the telescope’s eyepiece.
You will also be able to zoom in closely to a celestial object.
Looking Through Your Telescope
Now that you know how to move your telescope to focus on a certain area or object in the sky, you are ready to look at it in more detail.
To do this, first, turn off any lights in the room.
Then you need to align the telescope properly and use your scope finder to find an object you want to focus on.
The finder scope helps you to locate the object by showing you its location in the sky.
You can use the finder scope to identify constellations, bright stars, planets, and deep-sky objects.
How To Find Celestial Objects For Observation
There are many different ways to find objects in the sky that you can observe with your telescope.
Celestial Sky Apps
One great way to find objects in the night sky is to download apps from Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
These apps usually come with a database of over 1 million star names and their locations.
They also include information about each constellation, such as which stars belong to which constellation.
These apps are very useful for beginners because they help you to learn about constellations and other astronomical objects.
They also provide detailed information about each object, including magnitudes, distances, sizes, colors, and brightness levels.
Star Chart Software
Another option is to use software programs like Starry Night Pro or Stellarium.
These programs give you access to databases containing thousands of stars and constellations.
In addition, you can create your star map using these programs.
They also allow you to view images of the night sky captured by professional astronomers.
If you prefer reading books instead of downloading apps, you can buy astronomy books online.
Planispheres are disc cards that show the night sky with a range of latitudes.
They include the most common celestial objects and star constellations.
All you have to do is to align the date and time, and you’ll be able to see this night’s sky stars.
It’s important to remember that observing the night sky is fun and exciting.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to astronomy or an experienced astronomer, there are always things to learn.
This guide was designed to help you get started with your telescope. Now you know what you should expect when buying a telescope.
Hopefully, our beginner’s guide to telescopes has helped you make an informed decision, and we hope you discover some exciting new objects in the night sky.
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