Handy Tips To Help You Enjoy The Early Summer Night Sky
Like many people you may have received a telescope as a gift last Christmas. Indeed, you may have asked for this particular present after getting hooked on the BBC’s excellent ‘Stargazing Live’ programme last year.
Of course, examining the heavens is not always that enticing in the winter, as standing around in sub-zero temperatures late at night has limited appeal when you’re not quite sure what you’re supposed to be looking at.
However, now that the clocks have gone forward and the temperatures are considerably milder than they were in January and February (and March. And April!); you can dig out your prematurely stored telescope and really get your teeth into the amateur astronomy that Professor Brian Cox and Dara O’Briain got you turned on to.
If you really have only unpacked your telescope a handful of times since Christmas then you will probably be a little uncertain about how best to enjoy all the wonders that the night sky has to offer at this time of year. This is not a problem though as we here at Sherwoods are more than happy to provide you with some handy tips that will help you to get the most out of your ‘new’ telescope.
Tip 1 – Getting a ‘Head’s Up’
If there is a full moon present then you would do better to schedule your stargazing session for another night. The reason for this is that the light from a full moon makes it very hard to distinguish things which are normally quite easy to see. In general, the best nights for stargazing are those with thin slivers of moon as they provide you with clear dark skies as well as fantastic crater shadows on the moon itself.
Tip 2 – Getting Ready
When getting your telescope ready for a night of scanning, take the covers off and leave it outside for at least half an hour before using it. This will enable the optics and the air inside the tube to get used to the difference in temperature between your house and the outdoors (which can still be significant at this time of year). If you try and use your scope as soon as you set it up then the lenses within it will more than likely fog up and impede your attempts to observe the heavens.
Tip 3 – Getting Steady
You must bear in mind that astronomical telescopes magnify things a hundred times or more; therefore even the tiniest of shakes will be magnified many times over. Unfortunately, it is a fact that many of the tripods which come with introductory telescopes are not known for their rock solid stability so you need to be very conscientious when you are looking for a place to set up. If you are staying within the realms of your back garden then setting up on your patio or lawn will probably be your best bet as they will provide your tripod with a solid base.
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