Here are the most frequently asked questions in the Telescope topic on Fixya.
1. Everything is upside down when I look through the telescope.
Yes, all astronomical telescopes have upside down images. There is no up or down in space! AND- to erect the image would take more glass in the light path making those dim sky objects harder to see. You can buy an "erecting diagonal" for terrestrial viewing.
2. I just purchased this XYZ Telescope, It is a 60mm with 575 power magnification. I cannot see anything through the telescope!
First, this scope is 60mm about the same aperture as a pair of binoculars! They LIED TO YOU! The maximum magnification of any telescope is about 50 times aperture. Your scope is about 2 inches, so 100 power is the maximum you can achieve in PERFECT sky conditions! Magnification is the least important factor -- LIGHT GATHERING is the most important factor along with quality optics.
All things being equal the BIGGER the hole in the telescope the MORE you can see. We say, "Aperture Rules!". They LIED to you when they said it was 575 power magnification. Sorry --------- :(
So put the eyepiece with the largest number written on it into the telescope. This is your LOWEST magnification. Throw away the 3x barlow they gave you with the telescope as you will never be able to use it to TRIPLE the magnification of the standard eyepieces. Next time do not buy any telescope that advertises magnification.
3. I am looking for a manual for my telescope and cannot find one.
First, you probably will NOT find a manual for your small telescope. However Meade maintains all their manuals here: Look under REFRACTOR or REFLECTOR heading:
and Bushnell has a web site here:http://www.opticsplanet.net/bushnell-warranty.html
They all assemble in a similar fashion, depending on the type and the mount. REFRACTOR style telescopes have a lens in the front, usually a diagonal in the back with an eyepiece stuck into the diagonal.
A Reflector has a mirror on the bottom, and the focuser near the top of the tube. POINT the focuser end toward the sky. Take off the lens cap, and go outside during the daytime and practice focusing on a distant object until you can easily do this. DO NOT use the 2x barlow if you have one, just use the eyepiece with the largest number written on it until you learn how to focus.
Probably what you really mean is that you just assembled the scope and you DO NOT KNOW what to do next. You have zero knowledge of the night sky. You don't realize that the bright star outside (along the ecliptic) is actually a PLANET! or that the Andromeda Galaxy is actually visible without a telescope from a dark sky site!
You don't need a manual, you need to buy several Astronomy books like "Turn Left at Orion" and "Nightwatch:" and start reading. Both are available on amazon.com. Again your local Astronomy club could help you learn the sky, and how to use your telescope. You can also download a free monthly star chart here:
Start reading Astronomy links on the internet and join the free (with registration) forum on:www.cloudynights.com
4. I just bought this XYZ telescope and the focus knob fell off and broke. Or-- a screw is missing, or the tripod leg broke! What do I do now!
Take it back to where you bought it and stop buying junk $79 telescopes from a department store. For a simple screw or nut visit your local well stocked hardware store for a replacement. If the tripod is broken it's probably NOT economically wise to replace the tripod. Most tripods are more expensive than your entire telescope! Usually around $100- $150 dollars.
Meade, Bushnell, and Celestron have customer service contact web sites listed below; if you own these brands those companies may be able to sell you a replacement part. Contact them!
Here are FOUR good internet retailers that sell REAL telescopes and accessories.
5. I just bought this EQUATORIAL mounted telescope. I cannot figure out how to point it? Where is Polaris?
Beginners should NEVER buy an EQ mount as their first telescope. Many retailers sell these mounts. Usually the mount is too small for the telescope and will cause the image to shake whenever you touch the scope.
AND--- they must be POLAR ALIGNED to work properly. You do know how to polar align an equatorial mount using the star Polaris??? That's what I thought- NO you don't know how to do this!
Beginners should start-out with an easy to operate mount like the ones listed below with up-down, left-right movements. Since you went and bought one anyway, READ my TIP in my profile about how to use an Equatorial mounted telescope.
Check out this web site for a description of the different types of telescopes.
6. How far can I see with my telescope.
I always chuckle when I see this question. Did you see the SUN today? If you did you were looking across 93 MILLION miles of outer space! WITHOUT a telescope! AND-- you can see the Andromeda Galaxy, without a telescope, which is 2.5 MILLION light years away from a dark sky observing site if you know exactly where to look.
A 6 inch or 8 inch Dobsonian reflector can show you thousands of sky objects from a dark sky observing site. However you must point the telescope EXACTLY at the sky object to see it. Most appear smaller than the tip of your finger held at arms length. Telescopes have VERY small fields of view.
7. The image in my small finder scope is not the same as the main telescope?
You must align the finder scope with the main telescope. Put the main telescope on a bright star or distant object. Without moving the telescope adjust the finder "cross-hair" and center the same object using the adjusting screws on the finder scope.
8. I can find the moon and it looks great, but I cannot find anything else!
Yes, sky objects are very tiny, and many are very dim. The scope must be pointed directly at them to see them and your eyes should be dark adapted. So turn off any lights you can and do not LOOK at any white light source for at least 20 minutes or you will immediately loose your dark adapted eyes. That's why you should buy a red flashlight. RED does not affect your night vision.
You also need to learn the sky using a small star chart so you can FIND objects. Download this free monthly star chart:
9. I opened up my eyepiece to clean it. How do I put it back together!
First, NEVER disassemble an eyepiece. Most manufacturers void the warranty when you do this.
Second, only the front outside lens should ever need cleaning, not the internal surfaces.
You can try to put the "flat" sides of the lenses together and try that for simple eyepiece types. However, with more complicated designs having 3 or more internal lens elements we really cannot help you. Send it back to the manufacturer if you can, and NEVER EVER take one apart again!
Read this to learn how to clean optical surfaces:
10. Where can I buy a new eyepiece for my telescope?
There are many on-line retailers that sell eyepieces. There may also be a regular retail Astronomy Shop if you live in a large city.
Eyepieces come in 3 sizes. .965, 1.25, and 2 inch sizes. Most amateur telescopes will take the 1.25 inch size, some may also take the 2 inch size. Measure the hole at the focuser and buy the appropriate size. Here are several on-line retailers that sell eyepieces. A Plossl type eyepiece will work just fine for most telescopes. Many "toy" department store telescopes can only use the .965 size. Just one more reason why you should not buy a department store telescope.
If you cannot return the telescope then READ my Equatorial "TIP" article on my Profile page. It has instructions for polar aligning an equatorial mount. Polaris is the last star in the handle of the LITTLE dipper -- in the Constellation Ursa Minor.
See this web site to learn how to find Polaris- The North Star:
TelescopeManTelescopeMan RSS Link to his Astronomy podcasts