If you’re selecting your first ever telescope, as you no doubt appreciate, it’s a pretty big decision, and it’s not the sort of thing you buy every week, so you need to make your choice carefully. Here are a few pointers to help.
Some of the factors that will affect your decision are the same as for buying anything else. You have to know, for example, how much you can afford and what exactly you want to use your telescope for, and where you will be using it. How much space do you have?
But, equally, some factors are a bit more specialised. For instance, you need to understand how portable you want your equipment to be, and appreciate the two main areas of interest for telescope users – deep sky and the planets.
For the latter, you need a piece of kit that will provide excellent views at high magnification, while for looking at deep-sky objects, large aperture is more of a consideration that magnification.
While most astronomical telescopes will in practice show you both kinds of object, if you do want to specialise a lot depends on where exactly you are doing your stargazing. Light pollution still means you can see the moon and other planets, but densely populated areas are generally not ideally suited to deep sky viewing.
Even in the countryside, if trees block your view of the southern horizon, planet viewing may be hard with a fixed-in-place instrument, so you may want to go for something portable.
Power isn’t Everything!
It may surprise you to learn that power isn’t always the prime consideration when choosing your stargazing kit. Instead, the capacity of the telescope to gather light, also known as the aperture, is the determining factor in how much you will get to see. And, in fact, the clearest, sharpest images are often experienced at much lower powers.
A small, quality achromatic refractor with an aperture of between 60 and 80mm is a greater beginner’s telescope if it’s the main planets and the moon you want to see.
These telescopes are affordable, maintenance-free and easily carried around, making them ideal for first-timers trying out their new hobby. However, you may not see as many deep sky objects or be ideal if galaxies and nebulas float your boat.
They’re also well-suited to areas with moderate light pollution.
A 90 or 100mm refractor may be a better option for seeing more, but these tend to be more expensive as well.
Telescopes and more from Sherwoods
With seven decades’ experience, Sherwoods offers unparalleled specialisation in products like telescopes, night vision optics and a wide range of binoculars. Based
in Warwickshire, we offer the largest range in the Midlands of optical products, supplying brands from the world’s leading manufacturers.
We have a range of special deals on offer, and many of the items we have in stock can be with you the day after you place your order. Browse our selection online – we’re ideal if you’re looking for unique gift for a special someone.
If you’ve just bought a pair of binoculars, you’ll need to look after them pretty diligently to keep on getting the best results from them.
Using your equipment for the first time
Once you have bought your kit, set the eyepieces at the right distance apart for your eyes by shutting or opening at the hinge. Then, while looking through the, to something at least seven metres away, alter the middle focusing wheel until the image on the left hand is sharp.
At the same time, move the dioptre ring, on or behind the eyepiece on the right, until your right hand image is clear. Once you’ve got this process down to a fine art, it shouldn’t take longer than a few seconds to focus each time.
Use the 60 to 70 Scale
You’ll often find a scale around the hinge’s small front cover screw, displaying numbers 60 through 70, referring to the distance between the centres of left and right eyepieces in mm. Once you’ve adjusted this so that it’s right for your eyes, remember the number.
Caring for Your Binoculars
Especially if you’ve been using them in sandy or dusty places, you will find a blow brush comes in very handy for cleaning your binocular set. If you get gritty particles in your bird watching binoculars, just using a cloth could scratch and badly damage the lenses.
Always clean and dry this piece of equipment after use, before putting away in the case. This gets rid of any potentially corrosive condensation which can occur if you’ve used your eyepieces in very damp conditions, and if they are not waterproof. Leave to dry out for about an hour.
It may sound obvious, but repeated dropping will misalign the lenses and cause the image to lose focus, so be careful.
And clean with a special lens cloth made from microfibres, never just a regular cloth, which could leave marks and scratches on the glass surface. You can also buy special lens cleaning fluids.
What Sherwoods Offers
At Sherwoods, we’re a third generation family with 70 years’ experience in the industry, and a leading UK optical specialist for telescopes and binoculars, as well as night vision and other products. And we supply some of the country’s leading brands, with one of the largest selection of equipment for bird watchers, astronomers and others.
Can’t get to our showroom in Studley, Warwickshire? We have full mail-order facilities for next day delivery on many of the products we hold in stock.
We can help whether you want marine binoculars, bird watching scopes, tripods and clamps, monoculars, portable radios or laser rangefinders. And we’re an excellent place to look for presents for an aspiring astronomer or a budding birdwatcher.
The brands we stock include Meade, Skywatcher, Celestron and others. It’s always worth ensuring we have the product you need before making a journey to our showroom.
Sherwoods Photo Ltd Orders & Information Telephone 01527-857500
Registered Office: North Court House, Greenhill Farm, Morton Bagot, Studley, Warwickshire, B80 7EL - Registered in England No.00666856
Prices, availability, appearance, product descriptions, and accessories are based on available manufacturer information and are subject to change without notice.