So you bought or where given a shiny new telescope . . .
Now what . . . your going to do what almost everyone who gets a new telescope does . . . put it together, head outside (at night) and point it up at something and expect to see . . . This . . . .
But . . . instead you see something like this . . .
So at this point you are wondering if your even pointed in the right direction . . . after all the box said it had a computer that pointed it at the targets and all that . . .
Now comes the point where you make a decision, some will decide “This crap isn’t for me” and relegate the telescope to a corner . . . maybe a few more tries before it ends up in the closet or garage and finally given away or sold at the first yard sale . . . OR . . . now you get a few books, google a few “Howto’s” maybe even get in touch with a amateur astronomer or astronomy club . . . and began to learn about the fascinating hobby of Astronomy . . .
Well hopefully it becomes a hobby that is enjoyable for a long time . . .
We’ll start here, what can give me the most bang for my buck and let me have fun and learn . . . Well I would say if you are the recipient of a brand new telescope and want to have fun the focus on out nearest object . . . the MOON . . . you can get a lot of return for your effort here. There are Moon maps and workbooks that take you through the learning experience of observing our closest neighbor, and your new shiny scope should be able to present a good view. There are some small caveats that may or may not pose a problem but are easily remedied . . . The first would be the eyepieces, but that may or may not be a source of frustration, it just depends on how inexpensive the telescope kit is, the next point of frustration is the Mount. A manual mount will require you to make continuous adjustments to track the Moon, some have a motor to do this for you and some computerized mounts will do it automatically . . . and lastly is the scope itself and how well it was setup at the factory. All that aside you should be able to see the moon and its features and tracking well enough to learn and see if you want to invest in this hobby. I say invest because as you grow so does the need for better equipment.
Parents, if you are going to get a telescope to enrich your kids mind, please do it right and get a good first scope, (I hear the grumbling, but really a good kit is better then a piece o crap), like perhaps from Mead or Ioptron or Celestron just to name a few brands, they all have good starter scopes and come with warranted . . . I would say $300 ~ $500 is a good starting place for a computerized telescope with enough quality to make it an enjoyable learning tool. Granted it isn’t the Hubble telescope, and don’t expect pictures of that caliber either, but it is a good place to start. Before I’d step off the cliff just yet, You might also go online and just google “how to buy a first telescope”, “what can I see with a small telescope” also you might try a book first like “Right turn at Orion” there are other books and great videos online that can give you an insight into what, howto and where and when . . . a great place is “sky & Telescope” it has a great beginners section . . . and there are great apps for tablets and computers as well as smartphones “skyview, google sky, Skysafari, and many more” that can give you an idea of what is up there and what direction the are in as well as information on the object. Just remember those pretty photos in the magazines and even the box your telescope came in are not really what the eye can see (well nebulae anyway) one exception would be Orion nebula which is really bright, but what you see depends on a lot of variables which we’ll cover next time . . . I’ll show you one of my fun little (Small) telescopes, and also how to use an old manual lens and special astro camera (or if you own a dSLR camera) to capture Deep Space Objects (Wide field photography) as well as what inexpensive rigs might be used as well . . . anyway hope that wets your whistle . . . see you soon . . . we’re going to talk Wide field Astro photography “on the less expensive side”
Note: there really is to much already written about astro photography, but when your just getting started it is really hard to decide which way to go . . . and if your like me! that is NOT with your checkbook or charge card leading the way!
Tim . . . aka Digi