If you were lucky enough to receive a telescope as a gift for Christmas then now is the time to really enjoy it. Indeed, now that everything is back to normal and your weekends are once again free from the need to shop or decorate, you can finally spend some quality time getting to know all about your wonderful new gift.
Moreover, this time of year is a great period to be looking up at the stars. To be sure, the long nights which are part and parcel of a UK winter provide stargazers with plentiful opportunities to wrap up warm and enjoy a few hours of exploring the awesome splendour of space.
If this is your first telescope then you may well be a little uncertain about how to get the best star gazing experience from it. Fortunately, this can be easily rectified as there are some great little tips and techniques which can help you to quickly get the most out of your new telescope.
Below are some of the most notable of these tips and techniques:
Always put your telescope outside at least half an hour before you plan on using it (and take the covers off it). Doing so will enable the optics and the air inside the tube to adjust to the temperature difference between your house and the outside world. If you don’t give it some prep time outside then your telescope’s lenses will almost certainly fog up, thereby degrading the quality of your observations.
Effective Night Vision
When looking for a place to set up your telescope outside, try and put it in the darkest area you can find (preferably as far away from house lights as you can manage). The reason for this is that your eyes will need to adjust slowly; and this will make a big difference in what you see!
Sadly, the tripods which come with most introductory telescopes are not well known for being overly stable. This means that you need to be very careful about the surface you set it up on. Wooden decking areas are to be avoided as these surfaces shake whenever there is a single movement on them. Remember, astronomical telescopes magnifying things a hundred times or more so the tiniest shake will be magnified a hundred times. When looking through your telescope, give it a few seconds to stabilise after moving it (and try to get into the habit of not touching it as you look through it).
Avoid Full Moons
It is best to avoid observing the night sky during a full moon. Indeed, the light from a full moon will simply ‘wash out’ a lot of things which are normally easy to see. The best nights are those with thin slivers of moon as they provide you with clear dark skies as well as wonderful crater shadows on the moon itself.
So there you have it – now all you have to do is enjoy!
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