Jump to content

740427863_Terminatorchallenge.jpg.2f4cb93182b2ce715fac5aa75b0503c8.jpg

The do's and dont's on telescopes


Recommended Posts

So as an absolute beginner what are the do's and dont's when it comes to a telescope?.

How do you store one and where?

How to transport it to where you are going to view the night sky?

Setting up in the dark and picking you location (like pitching a tent)?

Are there rules and guidelines about scopes that aren't in the glossy sales bumpf that you should know about that are general?

I know it sounds common sense but when you've never done this you dont come with common sense, just ignorance.

Cheers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This depends a lot on how and where you observe. It is very dry and dusty where I live, so a waterproof tarp on the ground is the first order of business. Keeps everything MUCH cleaner, reduces dust on the optics, and when you inevitably drop a small screw or keys or something, they are easy to find.

The only other hard and fast rule that I've found in all my years of observing is that the scope which is the easiest to use gets the most time out in the dark and is enjoyed by more people than anything else. Large, complex and expensive equipment is great (I've got my share!), but the amount of time you spend setting up, taking down, polar aligning, attaching computers

Just a few thoughts!

Dan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Stardad,

As a newbie, this is a good question. Thanks for asking.

Dan, good point about a tarp.

Regards

Chris

Yes, very good point.

I can only think of a few, off-hand:

1. Don't set up a metal OTA and tripod in an electrical storm;

2. Never point a visible light telescope at the sun without a full aperture filter;

3. Never purchase a telescope that is heavier than your fork lift can raise and transport;

4. Avoid licking the eyepiece to clean it, especially after a peanut butter and jam sandwich;

5. A primary mirror should be cleaned when the dirt is deep enough to plant a crop.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, very good point.

I can only think of a few, off-hand:

1. Don't set up a metal OTA and tripod in an electrical storm;

2. Never point a visible light telescope at the sun without a full aperture filter;

3. Never purchase a telescope that is heavier than your fork lift can raise and transport;

4. Avoid licking the eyepiece to clean it, especially after a peanut butter and jam sandwich;

5. A primary mirror should be cleaned when the dirt is deep enough to plant a crop.

Jim,

This should be on the top 5 of things that we MUST think of. Brilliant :)

Regards

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lol Skylook - great reply. The only real do/don't that I would reinforce is number 2.

Never ever look at the Sun through a regular telescope. This will fry your eye instantly and the damage will be irreversible - you will be blind for good.

A couple of other tips:

Pick a really dark observing site for best results free of obstructions all round

At the end of a moist night store the scope pointing down so moisture drips out of the scope not onto the mirrors. End caps off to circulate air to dry it quicker

Don't go for high magnification straight away

Concentrate on aligning finder and ota, and where appropriate "polar alignment"

Ensure mount/tripod is solid and firm on hard ground

Make sure everything is connected right and doesn't vibrate anywhere

Don't force parts to move - moving parts should be free to move easilly without sticking - if stuck then you've overtightened something.

If possible learn the sky before using a scope and have a few targets ready to find.

Loads of tips really but that's enough to be going on with :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Stardad

I´ve been here for a few weeks, but i can give you a pointer.

Practise at home at daytime!

I´ve had my scope for around 5 weeks now, and here (Iceland)

we have glimpses of clear sky every 4 days or so.

For the first 3 time I went out with my scope, hoping I would have first light, i missed the sky, because it took my to long to set my gear up. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do you store one and where?

I keep my 12" dob in the garage but an indoor room or outdoor shed is fine. Mine is just inside the garage door so I can get it out to my car quickly and easily.

How to transport it to where you are going to view the night sky?

Just put it in your car. It doesn't need any kind of case or cover: remember it's made to be used outside. With large scopes there's a possibility of rolling - I put my scope in the boot and pack other gear next to it so it can't move. The base goes on the back seat: it's too big to fit in the boot. I keep all my observing gear together in one place, so I can take it all out without having to go through a check-list to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. I use large plastic crates (toy-boxes), stacked on a trolley that I can quickly wheel to my car.

Setting up in the dark and picking you location (like pitching a tent)?

Practise in your garden first: if anything's going to disappear in the grass you want it to be your own grass. Find what gear you need and what you don't. You want to take just enough, not too much. Essentials for me are scope (and dewshield), eyepiece set, chair, maps, torch and red lights (with spare batteries), warm gear, snacks, observing list and notepad (I have a pencil tied to it with string so it doesn't get lost - and a pencil sharpener!). I also take a laser and cheshire so I can collimate my 12" before observing but with smaller scopes I never needed this. Other stuff I take though not strictly essential: fold-up desk for writing on, heavy-duty music stand for holding my maps and atlases, observing guides, sky quality meter, 12V hair-dryer and power source for de-misting (rarely used). I also have a windbreak in case of very gusty weather. I don't need a tent: I spend all-nighters at my scope or in my car.

For picking your location, start with something like the Philips Dark Sky Map to see if there is anywhere within range that will be dark enough to let you see the Milky Way naked-eye. Use OS maps and Google Earth to narrow things down. Minor roads, public bridleways etc are good: you want to be able to park off-road if possible, so as not to attract too much curiosity from any passing traffic. Also you don't want to be blinded by passing headlights. Go in daytime to assess the site. Good-looking spots often turn out to be gated, muddy, or otherwise inaccessible. My general rule is that if I'd feel comfortable about parking and walking there in daytime then it's OK by night. I've had farmers stop to ask what I'm up to and nobody has ever objected. But if I were to set up anywhere near someone's house I'd expect the police to turn up.

Ideally you want a site with a good southerly view but not too exposed (i.e. not a hill-top: too windy). If you can see all of the sky along a line from Polaris to the southern horizon then your site will enable you to see everything over the course of a year. Trees elsewhere will give you shelter from wind. Wherever you go, there will be light-pollution domes on the horizon. You don't want a bright dome lying due south. Nor do you want a mountain - though hills in other directions can help to hide light-domes.

You'll never find a perfect site but just try to find one that's good enough: not so far that you'll never want to drive there, but dark enough to be worth the effort. My first dark site was a 25 minute drive and zenith transparency was about mag 6. But the city light domes grew so big that I couldn't get properly dark-adapted: my current site is a forty-five minute drive and has much the same zenith darkness, but the light domes are less intrusive.

The countryside at night is just about the safest place you can be - certainly safer than an urban garden. I've been observing alone for years - in Britain and abroad - and have never had any hassle. Just don't park in a layby or known parking area if you want solitude - you're bound to find yourself joined by courting couples, lorry drivers, drug dealers, whatever.

Edited by acey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Stardad

Practise at home at daytime!

:)

Apart from Brantuk's advice on Solar viewing, practising at home will pay dividens when you are out in the dark. Take it from me when I say trying to find the right knob to undo/ do up can end in disaster.

Another tip, take a small table with a case to put your eyepieces and other bits and bobs in, 1. to keep the bits dry and 2. so you have all you lens/scope caps in one place, I have spent ages searching for the above at the end of a session as the last thing you think about when scaning the sky is where did I put that lens cap ;) plus these things have a habit of dropping onto the ground ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know this maybe obvious but have you thought of joining an astro club or observing group (they aren't necessarily the same). The reason is that observing with others is the best idea because there is someone else to help you, someone else to guide you and best of all, someone else to share your amazement and surprise!

Coming from the city I was quite surprised at how 'active' the countryside can be at night and I don't mean Spring or Autumn Watch ;). Seriously, parking a car in a lay by or lane will attract the 'Dog Walkers' who are out and about till all hours who all link together using mobile phones/internet to help fulfill their own evening of 'observing':eek:. Astro clubs might have their own observing sites or observe in enough numbers to put off the approaches of the ******* fraternity with their three point turns with full beam on wrecking your acquired night vision! Ultimately, it's better to use land that you can get permission to use (farmers/landowners never a problem) and a location that will facilitate the parking of your car which makes packing and unpacking gear easier and will keep your activities out of site which will facilitate and a nice relaxing observing session.

James :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.