Sunday, April 20, 2008

How to Find What You’re Looking For?

If your new telescope has go-to capability, all you need to do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions for initially training the instrument and then use the go-to controller to point your telescope at whatever you wish to view. Bear in mind, of course, that light pollution or other atmospheric conditions may obscure your view. Go-to technology is wonderful, but it can’t work miracles. It will point you in the right direction, but it can’t guarantee that you’ll always see what you’re looking for. If your instrument does not have a go-to controller, glance back at Chapter 1, which introduces the idea of celestial coordinates and altazimuth coordinates as well as the utility of constellations as celestial landmarks. Later chapters have more to say about finding specific objects. What you should familiarize yourself with now, however, is the finderscope affixed to the side of your telescope. Unless you have a rich-field telescope, commanding about a three- or four-degree slice of the sky, you will find it almost impossible to locate with the main telescope anything you happen to see with your naked eye. (“There’s Venus! But why can’t I find it with this #^$%@% telescope!?”) Take the time and effort to follow what your instruction manual says about adjusting the finderscope so that it can be used to locate objects quickly. This adjustment should take just a few minutes and can be done in daylight; once it’s done, it’s done (at least until you or someone else bumps the finder out of alignment). In any case, the alignment process is far less tedious and frustrating than trying to sight with your naked eye along the telescope tube and then just hoping you can finally find what you’re looking for.
Another option is called a Telrad Reflex Sight. Many amateurs use one of these—an inexpensive “bullseye” on the sky. In many ways, this product is even more helpful than a finderscope.

No comments: