Tip & How-To about Optics
Even though we warned you NOT to buy a "department store" toy telescope, you went and bought one anyway!
Here are a few things you can do to upgrade the telescope. Unfortunately some of the upgrades may cost almost as much as you paid for the scope! That's why you should not buy one in the first place! Anyway here are some ways to improve your "toy" telescope:
Stabilize that SHAKY Tripod!
Tie a heavy weight underneath the tripod, hanging from the central bolt. A bucket of sand will help stabilize the shaky tripod. You can also open up the legs and fill them with concrete, or sand -- anything that will tamp-out vibrations which will help your view tiny objects through the eyepiece.
Tighten up all the bolts on the tripod and mount. DO NOT extend the legs on the tripod to their fullest extent. Try to use the scope with the legs 1/2 way extended if at all possible. A shorter tripod will be more stable.
Buy a better finder scope!
The one that came with your scope is probably almost unusable. Buy a 50mm Right Angle finder scope, or mount a red dot finder. See the two links below:
Replace those cheap eyepieces with better quality.
Even the low cost Plossl design eyepieces will be better than what came with the scope. Here are two retailers that sell eyepieces. Measure the hole so you know what size to buy. They come in .965, 1.25 and 2 inch sizes. The 1.25 inch is the most popular. However some "department store" toy telescopes have .965 inch eyepieces. These .965 eyepieces are largely obsolete, hard to find, and hard to see through.
Get a better diagonal.
If your scope is a refractor it probably came with a very cheap low cost diagonal. A better one will improve light throughput, and probably yield sharper images. Here are some diagonals for sale:
Clean those dirty eyepieces!
Keep your hands away from the glass! In case you did not, then you will need these Never take the glass elements OUT of the eyepiece! Only the outside surfaces need to be cleaned.
It goes without saying that you should check all the bolts and nuts on the telescope and the tripod and make sure they are tight.
Use LOWER magnification-
Put the eyepiece with the largest number written on it into the telescope. DO NOT use the 2x barlow if you have one.
Your small aperture telescope was NOT meant to have 525 power magnification! With a 70mm telescope your maximum usable magnification will be about 140 power.
Buy a better METAL focuser and replace the plastic focuser that came on your telescope.
The problem with several of these "fixes" is that they will cost a significant portion of what you spent on your shaky low cost department store telescope. You would have been better off buying a better scope and junking the toy scope on Craigslist.com. Stop buying these toy $89 telescopes, join an astronomy club and get good advice on what to buy!
Remember, all things being equal -- the bigger the hole in the telescope - we call that aperture-- the more you can see. Most objects in the sky are VERY tiny and dim, except for the moon, several of the brighter planets, and a handful of other deep sky objects. Your scope must be pointed directly at the object in order to see it. Telescopes have very small fields of view.
TelescopeMan RSS Link to Audio & Video Astronomy Pocasts
Posted by Joe... on
Aug 22, 2010 | Edu-Science (10166) Telescope
May 13, 2010 | Edu-Science (10166) Telescope
Jan 29, 2010 | Tasco Optics
Sep 20, 2009 | Optics
Dec 25, 2007 | Bushnell Voyager 78-9945 Telescope
2,183 people viewed this tip
Usually answered in minutes!