Weymouth Astronomy

Getting Started - Part 1

Get familar with the Night Sky

Before you even setup your telescope and drag it outside, it really does help to know what you are looking at with the naked eye. Take time to learn the major constellations and the brightest stars using a star map or a planisphere. This may appear to be time comsuming and even boring, particulary when you just want to setup and use your new telescope. Yet in the long term the more time you take learning the sky will prove invaluable in the future. Each month the popular Astronomy Now magazine publishes a star map which hi-lights particular featues which can be observed for that month.

If you cannot identify objects or even know which direction to look in with the naked eye - then you will have next to no chance when of finding the object within the eyepiece/finderscope of your telescope. Even if you are lucky enough to have a telescope with motorised drives and GOTO features it still helps. Learn the sky and soon 'star-hopping' will become second nature.

Get familar with your Telescope

Again this may sound like common sense but learning how to operate your telescope indoors is far easier than trying to learn 'on the fly' in dark freezing conditions on a winters night. Ensure your finderscope is aligned correctly with the main tube. This ideally should be done during daylight using a stationary terrestial object (ie a lamp post) which is at least a mile away. Using the lowest power eyepiece adjust the telescope so the object is in the centre of the field of view. Once the object is centred adjust the finderscope until the object is in the centre of the crosshairs. Repeat this process again with a high power eyepiece so greater accuracy can be acheived. The telescope and finderscope should now be perfectly aligned.