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Using a telescope to see far away objects...

For any amateur astronomers out there, there can be two points of frustration. The first is identifying where you want to look with the naked eye. Now in order to do that, you need a star map and to start to learn reference points in the sky.

This takes time but is not too hard, and with a little practice and reference to the major constellations you should be able to work out where things are. For a really easy visual reference that anyone can spot, start looking at objects that are not too far from the plough, and the vicinity, or near a particularly bright star such as Sirius (or Sirius itself of course).

When it comes to actually seeing them through the telescope, frustration can kick in. Just the slightest movement on a standardly powerful telescope can completely change the whole field of view, and so you need extreme accuracy to line up the telescope with what it is that you want to see in the night sky.

Even with the moon, incredibly, it is not uncommon for it to take a long time to get it lined up through the telescope and to be able to see therefore the moon as big as that is - so imagine how hard it can be with objects that are thousands of times smaller in the night sky, such as stars and even quite a few planets.

Therefore you need to calibrate the telescope, and to do that you can do it in day light, and focus on a far away twig on a tree or a landmark if you have access to something suitable near you, and get it lined up with the finderscope and the same view through the viewfinder of the telescope in. By calibrating against nearby objects on the ground during the day it can be much easier to get everything lined up, and so then you can use the finderscope to line things up with the laser sight if it has one and aid your finding objects in the night sky.

Of course if you have a recent GPS operated one where you just type in the co-ordinates and watch, then lucky you, but the above should work for the rest of us and help you get a good view of Saturn and its rings!
Calibrating A Telescope
Author: Stephen

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Last Updated: Feb 13th 2008

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