How Do You Maintain A Telescope?

If you want to maintain a telescope, there are four criteria that must be met: keep it dry, keep it clean, keep it cool, and keep it accessible. A well maintained telescope is a long term investment.

How Do You Maintain A Telescope

With the right care and attention, a telescope can last for the lifespan of the owner, allowing them to view the wonders of the universe over and over again. 

A telescope needs to be kept dry. Damp is dangerous, as it can affect the optics and lead to rust. Make sure the telescope is stored in a dry place, and check for dew before packing away.

To do so, tilt the tube downwards and watch the lens. If droplets appear, leave it uncapped to dry out.

The telescope needs to be cleaned when dust starts to gather. No matter how much care you take with storage, dust manages to collect on everything. This is especially likely if you transport your telescope and use it outside.

Be careful with cleaning, and pay particular attention to the optics. Only clean the lens when visibility is being affected, otherwise you risk causing damage.

Try and maintain a steady temperature, to prolong the life of the telescope. When the telescope is moved to a new place, it needs to cool down (or heat up) to match the ambient temperature.

This puts stress on the equipment, and should be avoided. Because telescopes are normally used in cold places, they’re best stored in a cool area of the house. Otherwise, let the telescope sit in the room before putting it away.

When storing a telescope, the above criteria need to be met. However, you also want to keep it in a place with easy access. For a start, it lowers the risk of damage as you take it out and put it back.

Secondly, it means you keep using it. A well maintained telescope stays maintained because it’s being appreciated. Look after your telescope, and it can keep dazzling you for a lifetime.

How do you clean a telescope?

To maintain your telescope, it needs to be cleaned when dust and dirt start to gather. This ensures smooth running, and keeps your telescope working properly for years to come.

Always do any cleaning indoors. Good lighting is necessary to be sure that you’re locating the dirt, and getting rid of it properly.

Something as simple as an overhead kitchen light will do. Don’t clean outdoors, and definitely don’t do it at night. You don’t want to risk causing damage.

The mirror can be cleaned quite easily, using tap water to blast away the dust. Then submerge the mirror in a bowl of warm water and a small amount of dish soap. Once it’s been thoroughly cleaned, rinse the mirror with distilled water. Leave it to dry completely.

The mount is also simple to clean, and you should wipe it down regularly if using the telescope outside.

For a total clean, spray the mount with WD-40 to remove the old grease. Once this is done, replace the grease on the gears, and the mechanism should run smoothly.

The lens is the hardest part to clean, and a great deal of care needs to be taken. Only clean the lens every few years, when a build up starts to affect performance. Although it’s tempting to clean it regularly, this increases the likelihood of scratches. 

Begin by using a camel hair brush to remove any dust. Then use a lens cloth and lens cleaning fluid to clean the surface of the lens. Go very slowly, and only clean a small amount at a time.

It’s recommended that after 1/8th of the lens has been cleaned, discard the cloth and use another.

It may take some time, but it’s worth it for a telescope that stays in top condition. As the lens is cleaned so rarely, you can afford to dedicate that extra care and precision necessary to do a good job.

Where should I keep my telescope?

The very best place to keep a telescope is an observatory, but for most of us this isn’t a desirable option.

A telescope needs to be used, so the next best thing to do is find storage in your house. Look for a place that’s dry, free of dust, a steady temperature, and easy to access.

Water is dangerous for a telescope, so don’t keep it anywhere that gets damp. Be careful if you’re storing it in a basement, as these aren’t well ventilated. A dehumidifier can help with the problem.

Wooden storage cupboards in garden sheds or garages can be suitable, but avoid any metal or plastic coverings. These are more likely to trap heat in. You also need to make sure that the space is ventilated, and air is circulating.

While these outdoor spaces can be perfect, you must take the time to check on your telescope. Just because it’s out of sight, doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.

Indoor cupboards can be the best place for your telescope. Many of these keep a cool temperature, allow air to circulate, and don’t get damp. Otherwise, spare bedrooms and lofts are good options (although it may require carrying the telescope up difficult stairs).

Wherever you keep your telescope, there are a few precautions that should be taken. First, always cover the lens. All covers and caps need to be replaced before storage, to prevent damage. 

Cover the telescope with a sheet. This keeps the dust from settling, and can prevent insects from moving in. If you’re keeping the telescope in a house, a simple sheet can reduce accidents caused by curious fingers.

Finally, be sure to keep the telescope in an accessible place. You need to be able to use it, and you don’t want to risk bumps when maneuvering.

It may take some thinking, but there’s sure to be a perfect place to keep your telescope. The main criteria is dry, dust-free, and accessible.

Gordon Watts