“The immense distances to the stars and the galaxies mean that we see everything in space in the past, some as they were before the Earth came to be. Telescopes are time machines.” – Carl Sagan
So, fellow time traveler, as you’re here, we believe that you got your telescope. Or you might be on your way to a space camp.
As you’re a time traveler or space explorer, we are assuming that you’ve got yourself a reflector telescope.
Now the question remains, how to use a reflector telescope?
No, Neil Degrasse Tyson won’t make a video on this topic. But that doesn’t mean you have to go to places for learning this easy thing. For using a reflector telescope, you have to know your telescope, decide on your target object, find a place and set up the telescope.
We have discussed all these steps with fine detail in here. So, let’s not waste any more time and start preparing our ‘time machine’.
Reflector Telescope/Newtonian Telescope
We know your question was- “how to use reflector telescope for dummies?”
But we figured out that before jumping into the details we should clear this out.
Newtonian telescopes are reflector telescopes. Isaac Newton invented this telescope type. Newtonian telescopes are best for watching the extra-terrestrial stuff. To be more specific this telescope is perfect for beginners.
Now that everything is cleared, we can proceed to answer-
How to use a Newtonian telescope?
Step 1: Know your Telescope
You won’t be able to see the stars if you don’t know your telescope at first.
You might argue that there’s nothing much to know about it other than a few knobs. But there’s more than that.
At first, get that manual at your hand and shake hands with your telescope parts. Especially the lenses, locks, mount, eyepieces, knobs, etc. pieces.
However, give some extra time to the finder scope. Make sure that you can adjust it on the go.
Doing all this will save you a lot of time.
Step 2: Get that Star Chart into your Head
Do you think that you can just aim your telescope somewhere in the sky and can stargaze all you want?
Well, guess what? You won’t see anything like that. To see actual stars and you have to go through a couple of steps. But before that, you have to learn reading the star chart.
Here we have brought up a method through which you can study the Star chart.
- At first, get a star chart from any app or website. Keep in mind that star charts change with time.
- Next, find the cardinal points in the sky. Especially try to find the Polaris or the North star.
- Next, identify the constellations and asterisms.
- Start hopping from star to star. Starting with Arcturus is always a good option.
This is just a short overview. You have to go through some other sources to master this method perfectly.
Step 3: Find your Location
Do not try to watch stars on the roads. By roads, we’re not talking about busy roads. You might think that using an empty road at night would be a great way of stargazing. Or an alley could be a nice option.
Here’s the thing, your line of sight will get obstructed if you try any of those methods. Even if you think of using a rooftop for this mission, think again. See if there are any taller buildings pretty close to your rooftop. If the answer’s yes, then move onto some other spot.
Next, try to move as far as possible from light pollution.
Ultimately our advice is that, try finding a dark place with a clear sky.
Step 4: Set up your Reflector Telescope
Once you’ve found your stargazing spot, it’s time to move on to telescope set up. We will soon move onto the steps of aligning the reflector telescope. But remember that we are assuming that you have gone through the first step thoroughly.
So, let’s look at the steps of aligning your reflector telescope-
- Center your telescope secondary mirror on the focuser drawtube axis.
- Aim the eyepiece at the primary mirror center.
- Locate the eyepiece’s field of view and center your primary mirror’s sweet spot in there.
Now, try to aim towards the moon. Get started with the weakest magnification eyepiece and start rotating. Keep rotating till the moon gets in the center and focus.
Next, adjust the finder scope screws. Keep on adjusting till the moon is centered perfectly on the crosshairs.
Step 5: Explore as you Want
Once, you’re done with the adjusting you can start exploring. Jump from one star to another. Get emerged into the vastness of space.
However, if you find something a bit distant from your scope of sight, then there’s a way too. Just keep your telescope locked at that position. Replace your telescope eyepiece with something a bit stronger and adjust the focus knob.
Voila! You’ll get a sharper and clearer image.
Do not use a reflector telescope during daylight. Even if you use one, install a solar filter. And even with the solar filter do not look directly towards the sun.
While adjusting the telescope, handle the lenses with delicacy. Even rough handling could create scratches on the lenses.
Telescopes are amazing. They literally and metaphorically open your eyes. You can see beyond your seeing capabilities and can feel the vastness of space.
We believe that we answered the question of how to use a reflector telescope perfectly. We believe now you have a primary idea about using it. However, dig deeper into some steps if you still feel confused.
Now go and do some time traveling.