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Step by Step Guide About Telescope for Beginners

Would you like to see craters on the Moon? How about viewing a galaxy that’s light-years away? Observing the night sky offers numerous breathtaking images. And you don’t need advanced astronomy knowledge to witness them. You should only acquire a telescope for beginners.

Finding a suitable unit is the right start. The next step is using it. This guide focuses on explaining a telescope’s working process. You’ll discover the main components and the adjustment process. Once you finish reading, you’ll be ready to observe celestial bodies!

Step 1: Understand the Parts of the Telescope 

If you want to use a device, you should get to know its components. These are the main parts of a telescope: 

  • Lens or mirrors. These are this device’s main parts. Refractive units use lenses to collect light and send the image to the eyepiece. Mirrors do the same job in reflective products.
  • Eyepiece. This is a crucial component for the user. You use it to observe distant objects. It magnifies the image and ensures you see a picture of optimal quality.
  • Mounting. It’s a component that supports the pipe. It adds to the stability and also allows tube rotation.

Step 2: What Should You Look for in a Beginners’ Telescope?

The initial step is to identify a unit suitable for your needs. You start by selecting the type. The market offers three telescope categories:

  • Refraction units. These devices use lenses to collect light and deliver images. You’ll find two of these components in a single product. The first one gathers illumination, while the latter serves as an eyepiece.
  • Reflection devices. It’s a type that implements mirrors instead of lenses. These components are often parabolic. Apart from the main mirror, there are several additional ones to ensure the light reaches the eyepiece.
  • Catadioptric. These products combine the two categories mentioned above. They have mirrors and lenses working together to deliver the image. The picture quality depends on the components used.

All units can be suitable for newcomers. The best refractor telescope for beginners can perform equally well as a reflection device.

Here are other features to consider in the selection process:

  • Aperture. This is the single most important specification. That’s because it describes your telescope tube’s diameter. It indicates the capability of collecting light and portraying the image. The standard measurements are 60-80 millimeters.
  • Eyepieces and mounts. You’ll find more on these two features later. They ensure you view the image of the celestial bodies and keep the telescope stable.
  • Construction quality. These products usually have components made of premium materials. They ensure the unit will serve you well for years. You can even look for a manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Price tag. The telescope cost varies significantly. It depends on its aperture size, eyepiece power, etc. You can often find different packages for the same basic device. These depend on your skill and expectations. A set for beginners includes only the required components. Advanced users can get a deal including various accessories for an improved observation experience.

Step 3: How to Assemble a Telescope for Beginners

The device you purchase will come with instructions. If you didn’t receive a manual, head to the brand’s online presentation and search for it. Call customer support if necessary, but don’t start assembling without directions.

A good telescope for beginners might come pre-assembled. Some units only require partial setup, which makes your job easier. The installation process is simple. It comes down to following the instructions provided.

These are the usual steps to follow:

  1. Where you will install it? You can install it indoors or outside but have enough space. Make sure there’s enough illumination. You don’t want to assemble it in narrow or low-lighting areas.
  2. Assemble the tripod stand. Your next task is to set up the mounting components. You’ll need to position the legs and tighten the notches. Tripods come with the alignment for the north. Make sure to identify the spot for optimal adjustment.
  3. Fit the tube to the mount. You position the pipe on the tripod stand. The exact method depends on the unit. You should also install the finder scope.

Make sure you have enough time to assemble the telescope. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. You shouldn’t be in a rush to avoid ruining the components.

Step 4: How to Pick a Place to Observe the Sky

You have many options for observing celestial objects. How about staying in the backyard? Or if you feel like it, head to the local park. You can also take the telescope camping or when going on a road trip. It’s exciting to observe the sky from different locations!

Stability is the keyword when choosing a place for a telescope. These tips will assist in identifying the right conditions:

  • The surface should be level (the best you can manage). If not, you risk the device being shaky and distort the image.
  • Check out the sky from the chosen position. Can you see enough of it? There’s no use in putting the telescope in the middle of the woods. You want the widest possible view.
  • Dirt and grass are the best choices. Concrete is stable, but it might cause observation issues. If it’s hot outside, it could radiate heat during the night. That could blur your image.
  • Minimize other light sources. You can turn off those bulbs on your porch. The idea is to ensure the spot is as dark as it could be.
  • Avoid elevated surfaces like decks. If you step on them, they shake. That affects the telescope and the image quality.

Step 5: What You Should Know About the Seeing Conditions

You checked the sky, and it’s not cloudy. The temperature seems perfect, and the entire family can head outside. The first thing to learn about astronomy is that seeing conditions change in minutes. That’s why patience and understanding your device are crucial.

Here are some pointers when assessing the observing conditions:

  • Do you notice some clouds passing by? They might be the reason why you can’t see Jupiter now. Try again in an hour, and you could get a perfect view.
  • Humidity can affect your equipment. You can minimize these problems with the right accessories.
  • Perform a quick check-up with the stars. If you look at the stars, do they twinkle overhead? That’s a sign the conditions are inadequate. It’s okay if the flickering increases toward the horizon.

Step 6: The Importance of the Telescope’s Mount

This is a crucial telescope component because it secures support. It holds the device’s mass and ensures accurate adjustments. You’ll find two common mounts in these units.

Alt-Azimuth

The experts describe this as a simpler option more suitable for beginners. This mount is present in cameras. If you have previous experience, you’ll be comfortable with this component. You could find it to be the best match for a beginner’s telescope for astrophotography.

This mount features three legs and a specific “head.” That part is why we call an alt-azimuth unit. The accessory allows moving in four directions – left, right, down, and up. You could describe this piece as manual. You can find it in units for beginners, but also advanced telescopes.

Equatorial Mounts

This unit works completely differently from the other type. Its purpose is to follow the objects as they move in the night sky. These mounts could feature motors but also be manual. It takes more practice to learn how an equatorial operates.

Step 7: How to Move Your Telescope

You have two options for moving the device. The first one is to adjust everything manually. That’s usually the cheaper variant, but it has a learning curve. The alternative is to use a computerized telescope for beginners. This one uses “go to” commands. That means you pick an object, and they move to its position automatically.

Computerized Telescopes

These are convenient because you operate them with a hand controller. You can adjust settings like slew rate or speed. That makes it suitable for following objects in the night sky. 

Computerized telescopes often have multiple velocity adjustments. A slow speed is suitable for aligning the device. That will ensure it remains in your eyepiece. A faster option is convenient when moving to another object.

Non-Computerized Telescopes

You use lock knobs to adjust these. The initial step involves loosening them and then grabbing the optical pipe. You can then point it in the preferred direction and continue tightening.

This moving method is simple, but it’s manual. It needs effort from the user. The non-computerized mount is convenient for large repositioning actions. Many units will have slow-motion knobs for smaller adjustments. These are important to focus on a close object.

Some units combine computerization with manual movement. Read the instructions to learn more about the desired telescope.

Step 8: Everything You Should Know About Eyepieces

You can find telescope packages that allow observing the night sky. Those sets include multiple components, and an eyepiece is mandatory. This component is what ensures you see the celestial bodies.

A single eyepiece is enough for a beginner. You can acquire multiple components to secure a better image later. Each unit is more suitable for particular celestial bodies. The accessory uses the light it receives to deliver an image of the observed object.

What Do Telescope Numbers Mean?

If you look at the eyepiece, you’ll notice numbers on it. These numbers describe the “focal length.” For example, you could see a 9-27mm in the bottom. The digits on top mark different positions. If you turn the unit, you see its current spot is “15” or “20.”

The crucial pointer is that the numbers are opposite to the power delivered. If you want the lowest possible power, you pick the 27mm setting. But if you need maximum magnification, go with 9x. The former is convenient when identifying the object. You can use other options to get a better look.

Calculating the Power of Your Telescope

Here is an example that will help you determine the device’s power. It only takes dividing the focal length with the eyepiece capability. If you have a 1,000mm with a 10mm observing piece, that means the magnification is 100x.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that bigger is better. Higher magnification can deliver a clearer image, but only to a certain extent. That’s why it’s about finding an optimal adjustment.

The experts suggest going with no more than 50x of magnification per aperture’s inch. If you have a four-inch diameter, the maximum shouldn’t be over 200x. This depends on the device type. Small, powerful telescopes can handle this power. That’s why this is a general pointer. You should experiment and see what suits your product.

Step 9: Aligning Your Telescope

The next step involves aligning your device. That will require using finders. These are crucial accessories for an astronomy telescope for beginners. You can find two aligner types, and they both make using the product easier.

Optical Finders

This accessory is a smaller telescope mounted on the main device. The product should have a finder bracket to accommodate this piece. You’ll find it offers a 6-10x magnification. The crosshair you notice when observing assists when centering the object.

Some optical finders allow you to look down through them and see the sky. Others require placing yourself behind the accessory.

Red Dot Finders

The difference is these finders don’t offer magnification. They feature a red dot on plastic or glass screens. You can change its position and brightness. This accessory requires a battery. It’s easy to use and adjust before observing the sky.

5 Steps to Aligning Your Telescope

Once you pick the finder, it’s time to align the device. The first step is mounting the component. Here is what to do next:

  1. Insert an eyepiece into the diagonal or focuser. That’ll depend on the telescope type. Refractor and catadioptric telescopes have the former, and Newtonian telescopes the latter component.
  2. Position your unit on a flat surface. Focus it on a distant object on the ground. You can do this during the day. Pick targets like a lamp post or stop sign.
  3. Position the unit and look at the target. The observed object should be in the field of view. Use the knobs to adjust what you see until the item is in the eyepiece’s center.
  4. Tighten the knobs for locking the telescope. This ensures the device doesn’t move. Use your finder and center the item in its FOV.
  5. You can adjust the eyepiece’s magnification to the highest available. The goal is to center the item in the finder and that component.

Step 10: How to Pick an Object in Space to Observe

Before you start observing, consider what you’d like to see. You have many methods when choosing the items to observe. Here is what can help to navigate the night sky.

“You Spy with the Naked Eye”

The basic method is to pick an object to observe with your eyes! If the sky is clear, you could probably see the Moon. The same is true for some stars, planets, and clusters. If you see something worth checking out, grab your telescope!

The main advantage of this is time-saving. It takes a second to find something to observe. There’s no need to look at maps. However, you can only see a limited amount of bodies this way.

Planispheres

You can find these disc-shaped planispheres online or in local stores. It’s the beginner’s guide to star constellations and crucial celestial bodies.

It’s easy to use these accessories. You align to the current date and time. The planisphere shows you which celestial bodies are visible. This map doesn’t go into extensive details. Despite that, it offers excellent guidance for newcomers.

Star Atlases and Charts

These charts offer the most detailed view of the night sky. You can find coordinates to many celestial bodies. It’ll take a bit of practice to position your device. It’ll be worth the effort once you become comfortable with it. You can buy a book with multiple maps, but also a laminated item you can lay on the ground.

Computer and Mobile Software

You might have the best computerized telescope for beginners. It can point to almost anywhere, which makes its use easy. Professional software is there to help you learn more about the objects you are seeing.

An astronomy or planetarium software will show you details about planets and constellations. If you are outside, you can even use mobile apps like Celestron SkyPortal. These can make the entire telescope experience more exciting!

Step 11: It’s Observation Time!

Are you ready to discover the fantastic celestial bodies? The previous steps explained more about your device and using it. Now, here is an overview of the observation process:

  1. Set up your telescope. Make sure the surface is flat. The tripod should be level. You achieve that by adjusting the legs.
  2. Align the device. The next step is to adjust your unit. You use a finder to do this.
  3. The eyepiece should be at its lowest power. This will reveal more about seeing conditions. It also makes it easier to find an object when observing a wider sky portion. Once you feel comfortable, you can adjust the magnification.
  4. Adjust the focus to your eyes. The focuser component makes this simple. You want to turn the knob until you pass the sweet spot. That will ensure it’s easy to return to the best position. If more users are on the same telescope, each should change this setting to suit their eyes.

Step 12: Learn Your Way Through Accessories

The basic package is enough to observe the night sky. You have an extensive accessory selection to improve your experience. Here are the major pieces for beginners to consider!

A Barlow Lens

This component is often a part of telescope packages. The inventor of this piece is Peter Barlow. The part isn’t independent and only works together with the eyepiece. The task that this lens has is to improve the magnification.

A Barlow lens usually offers a 2x enhancement. So, if the maximum magnification is 200x, this will increase it to 400x. Acquiring this accessory is a smart move. It’s an excellent method to see better without an expensive investment.

Additional Eyepieces

Most passionate observers will tell you that owning three eyepieces is a minimum. The idea is that the first provides low power. The second will be at a medium level, and the third will have the highest magnification. These accessories aren’t expensive. Pick units with a suitable field of view and eye relief.

Dew Prevention

You’ll encounter humidity sooner or later. It can compromise your image while observing. Dew gets on your filters, eyepieces, and other components. It worsens the picture but also has a negative effect on these parts.

You have many options for protecting the device against dew:

  • Shield. It’s a pipe extension. You put it over the telescope’s front section. It secures more time before the dew starts forming. If the humidity is strong, it might not help.
  • Strips. These are components that can emit heat. You use Velcro to put them around the device’s pipe. You adjust the temperature to ensure there’s no dew on the components. Please note these accessories need a power source.
  • Hairdryer. This is a trick, but avoid using it often. It might assist in some cases. The biggest problem is too much heat. If you use more temperature than necessary, you could damage the lens.

Other Accessories to Consider

The market is full of different additions to beginners’ telescopes. Here are some other extras that could be of assistance:

  • Solar filter. You can’t watch the Sun without using adequate accessories. These pieces are mandatory to avoid any damage from observing the Sun. You put the unit on the tube’s front end. The crucial consideration is that the size fits.
  • Moon filter. You can use neutral density accessories to see the lunar surface better. It’s a basic addition, and it doesn’t have a high price tag.
  • Telescope case. Do you have a portable unit? Do you plan to move the device around often? If yes, a cover is a mandatory protection. You can pick between soft and hard materials. It depends on your preferred destinations. The former should be enough for beginners. Use strong cases only with heavy-duty performance units.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need advanced astronomy knowledge or experience to use a telescope. It takes some effort to understand how it works. In return, you receive endless fun for the entire family. All generations can enjoy observing celestial bodies.

It all starts by choosing a suitable telescope for beginners. The market offers a variety of units, and you can even pick observation packages. Don’t hesitate to select a suitable unit and explore the night sky!