Getting Started with your Telescope

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,902
    Don Pensak of Scope City describes how to prepare your telescope for stargazing.

    Don Pensack: Hi! This is Don Pensack with Scope City. Today, we are talking about how to select and use a telescope. And our topic is getting started with your telescope, how to use a telescope, and when to use a telescope.

    When you first go out underneath the stars, a beginner is totally confused. It's like walking into a forest in which there is no pass. You're not sure where you are, what direction you are pointed. So what you need is a simple guide to help you learn to connect the dots pattern that we refer to as constellations. For that purpose, there is nothing better than a Planosphere. A Planosphere is a simple map of the night sky that can be rotated to select a specific day and time so that you can get an idea of what stars are above the horizon at that time.

    Once you've learned a few of the constellations and you know what the names of the constellations are then you'll want to point your telescope at objects in those constellations. For that, I would recommend a simple star atlas. A star atlas is like a map of the stars with all of your signposts marked by a gridline and all of the objects in the sky marked as to their locations.

    This can be very easy for you to determine, then, which object you want to go to see and what star is going to be near it. Now, when you first go outside, you may not know exactly when it's dark. In the Northern Hemisphere, it gets dark about 90 minutes after sunset and so you will not see the stars in all their glory until about 90 minutes. If you are outside during that time your eyes will gradually dark adapt. It takes about 30-45 minutes for our eyes to completely dark adapt when we go out underneath the stars. And in order to keep that dark adaptation it's important not to use a white light or to shine a white flash light on any of the pages.

    So for that purpose we use a red flash light, one with a red LED. Now, you can make one very simply by putting red cellophane over the front of a regular flashlight. And the next thing on our list will be basic telescope usage and how to use the telescope under the stars.