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How to use an astronomical telescope

Last Updated: 06.12.21


Learning how to use a telescope could be very rewarding because it offers you an entirely new perspective on life and the universe. Imagine how the planets should look closely and that you could actually see beyond this Earth without having to become an astronaut. Thanks to modern science and technologies you can now see the rings of Saturn, the craters on the moon, as well as all the other planets and plenty of stars and constellations with the help of a good telescope.

But choosing the right one is a tough job, especially since there are so many items available on the market and plenty of misconceptions regarding the features that truly matter in good telescopes. So, if you’re willing to learn everything about how to correctly use an astronomical telescope, you should take into account our own tips and tricks.

Read first, buy later

If you decided it is high time you bought your first telescope, we suggest pausing for just a little longer and read everything about it first. You should document some more before shopping for your first telescope, in order to know exactly what to look for and what to expect. We suggest regular books on stars, galaxies, the Solar system, and basically everything else about space and how telescopes work.


Picking the right telescope

After you’re done with the reading, don’t try to stumble across a cheap telescope. We don’t suggest spending a fortune either, but the quality of a telescope is really suggested by its price as well. A beginner’s telescope will cost you around a couple of hundreds of dollars but it will be perfect for you to start learning how to use such devices properly.

When you decided upon the right item, pay close attention to the assembly as well. Keep in mind that the larger the telescope, the more chances you have for your package to be sent in more than one parcel, meaning you will have to wait more time until all pieces arrive at the destination. Pay close attention to the instructions manual and take your time to building it right.

Don’t be afraid if this takes you more than a couple of hours because, sometimes, telescopes come with plenty of small pieces and screws that need to fit perfectly.


Testing out your telescope

After you finished building your telescope make sure you have used all the pieces pictured in the manual and give your telescope a try.

However, contrary to your belief, it is best to first operate with it during daylight to catch a glimpse of the surrounding objects. This will help you learn how to focus and how to properly magnify the telescope in order to have a clear image of the surroundings. Again, don’t despair if you didn’t get it at first. It may take time for your eyes to adjust to the lens and for you to learn how to handle all of your telescope’s features.

Only after you have mastered the basic functions it is wise to adventure yourself into the night and experience your first moon vision up close.


Don’t have too high expectations

Regardless of what the manufacturer states, it is highly improbable that you will be able to take good quality pictures with a regular telescope, without investing several hundreds of dollars more in additional accessories or even a more powerful telescope. Although the manufacturer will promise you bright up-close images of the moon and the stars, you need to learn the true capacities of your product.

Unfortunately, the power advertised on the box will not provide you a clearer image but, on the contrary, will help you magnify more but lose the quality of the image you are seeing up to the point where it gets all blurry and foggy.

As a general rule, the maximum magnification rate of any telescope should be a 50-power for every inch of the aperture. In other words, if the aperture of your telescope is about five inches, the maximum magnification power for your telescope should be 250x. Everything more than that will simply create a foggy, unclear image. For more professional products you should appeal to a new telescope refractor.

After plenty of trials and failures, you may reach the conclusion that a lower magnification rate (or less power) will, in fact, provide better quality images and won’t cause any dizziness or nausea after a prolonged period of time.

Additional care

Once you have correctly picked up the desired product, keep a close eye on it and avoid any scratches or drops. Telescopes are sensitive machines and each scratch or drop could cause irreversible damage to it.

For an easier handling, you will definitely require a sturdy tripod. Choose one built from stainless steel or any other similar product that is rough and provides increased steadiness.

In addition, whenever you are not using your telescope, make sure it is stored correctly. Use a special cover bag if one is not provided by the item’s manufacturer.

Do not put your hands on the eyepiece or the lens under any circumstances. You may scratch to the point that you have to buy an entirely new telescope. On the contrary, you should clean the lens or the eyepiece with a clean damp cloth and not put additional pressure. Use gentle moves to dust away all the other components of your telescope.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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