The Ultimate Telescope Equipment Checklist for Astronomy

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Telescope Equipment
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Telescope Equipment — This is used as the ultimate checklist for anyone who intends to head out for a night under the stars. The article is structured into 4 Sections. The Basics, Optional Accessories, Telescope dependent Accessories & Astrophotography Accessories. All of which is available at most specialist stores.

The Basics

Telescope of any kind. If you have not purchased a Telescope yet and still shopping around. I would strongly recommend that you visit a specialist (Online or in Store) and not a Department Store. I would recommend an Aperture of 130mm and above for Reflector or 90mm and above for a Refractor.

Eyepieces. Minimum of 2. You should have received 2 Eyepieces with your telescope anyway. If you are a beginner, the brand is not vital but Plossl eyepieces are highly recommended and well worth the money.

Appropriate clothing. This is often looked over by people starting out. Remember, you will be out in the open field with no roof above you and in the middle of the night. Dress appropriately. If you are unsure, dress as if you are going for a hike in the middle of the night.

Binoculars. This may seem odd but you will most likely be doing this with a companion and they need to be entertained as well. With a Binoculars, at least both of you can share your observations. I recommend 10×50 or 15×70 Binoculars.

Optional Accessories

Lens. This acts as a doubler and will multiply your eyepiece collection by 2. I would classify this as a Basic (Must Have) but some people may not need it. Buy one that is of similar quality to your Eyepiece. If you have a Televue Eyepiece, don’t buy some chinese OEM Barlow Lens and vice versa. When you are using the barlow lens, it becomes part of your eyepiece and if you buy an inferior quality one, you will notice it.

Red Flashlight. That feeling you get when you get dazzled by a High-Beam while driving. You do not want that in the middle of looking at a planet you’ve just spent 15mins tracking down. It will take you 15mins for your eyes to adjust back to the darkness before you can see anything meaningful. A Red Flashlight reduces that dazzled feeling.

Sky Maps. Whether it is an iPhone, Star Disc, Night Sky Guide. You will need something to use as a reference. If using an iPhone, remember that you will want it at the dimmest setting preferably with a Red Cellophane paper over the screen to minimize the glare.

Compass. Everything is pitch black and it will be very hard to get your bearings. You will need this as a Reference Point.

Telescope Dependent Accessories

PowerSupply. If your Telescope is computerised. Remember that your AA batteries are only going to last a couple of hours in heavy use. Bring Spares or buy a Power Adapter like a Celestron PowerTank.

Dew Shield. If you have a large Cassegrain and it is very cold. This is a must. Store bought or DIY is fine.
Wooden Board. If you have a Dobsonian. Remember, your telescope needs something flat to stand on to be stable and usable. A large piece of MDF works well.

Astrophotography

Adapters and T-Rings. Don’t forget it. Check that the T-Ring fits on your camera before you leave and the threads are all compatible.

Lens. Its not all about the telescope. Trust me. A good 70-200mm Lens will do wonders when you are out in the dark skies.

Laptop/Memory Cards. If you are a keen photographer, you will be shooting RAW. Remember, they are very big files and you will fill your card fast.

Camera. Pretty obvious. Also bring Spare batteries.

So there you have it. The ultimate checklist for your Astronomy Trip. Use this list and you will truly enjoy the experience.

All people have different hobbies. Some of them like sport, music and cinema while others prefer astronomy. If you are a passionate admirer of terrestrial applications and astronomy then you definitely need a good telescope. It is not so easy to choose a proper astronomy telescope. There are a lot of shops that offer telescopes with very poor quality. In this article we will explain to you what aspects you need to take into consideration before purchasing a telescope and will provide some names of famous, good quality manufacturers.

The first telescope was invented in the 17th century and since then its parameters and capabilities developed enormously. Before selecting a telescope you must take into account several important factors, such as type, cost, focal length, mount type, orifice and several others.

By comparing the parameters on different telescopes you can make the right decision. Nowadays there are different types of telescopes, such as reflecting, refracting and catadioptric telescopes. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. So it is up to you to decide what type is most suitable for you. Refractors for creating images utilize lenses and reflectors and also use mirrors and catadioptric telescopes use a combination of the above.

The first two types are more popular than the third. There are also a lot of sub-categories and sub-types. They are widely used for astronomical telescopes and long focus camera lenses. This type is great because it provides a very crisp image and you can enjoy and observe planetary objects.

Most refractors are portable, which means that you can easily move it. But unfortunately, it has a small opening and this is why you can observe planets and very bright stars plus constellations. They are also quite expensive, using one or more curved mirrors in order to form the image.

This type is very famous among admirers of astronomy, since it is suitable for astrophotography and visual observation. Catadioptric telescopes are suitable for observing small celestial objects. Usually it has a small size, but very good magnification that makes it a favorite choice for astronomers. However, they are more expensive.

It is also very important to determine the aperture. Large types provide brighter and clearer imagery. It is suitable for observing very small celestial objects, details and distant galaxies. This scope can be bulky and expensive. So, before choosing one, you must consult with an expert who will help you select one that is best suited to you.

Nowadays there is a selection to choose from, like Baader Hyperion eyepieces, Daystar Solar filters, Kowa Spotting Scopes, Televue and many others. All these companies do not need an introduction, because they are considered leaders in this industry.

We are sure that you will not regret purchasing a telescope, especially if you follow the advice provided in this article.
The most important thing that needs to be considered before purchasing any telescope, especially if you are new to astronomy, is what you are going to use the telescope for. With this in mind, it is not always obvious that the physical properties of a telescope should be closely related to your requirements.

Two of the most important parameters associated with astronomical telescopes are the aperture (the diameter of the main objective lens or mirror) and the focal length (the distance from the objective lens or mirror to the point where the image is formed). With a little simple mathematics, you can easily calculate the values of these parameters to help you choose the best telescope for your needs.

Telescope Aperture

The telescope aperture is representative of what is usually described as the physical ‘size’ of the telescope. The bigger the aperture, the more light gathering ability the telescope has. For example, a recommended aperture for a really useful first telescope would be at least 100mm for a refracting telescope, or 150mm for a reflecting telescope. Using these figures, we can then calculate how faint an object an observer would be able to see:

The entrance pupil of the human eye can reach approximately 8mm in diameter when fully adapted to the dark. This is equivalent to an area of 50 square millimetres (50mm 2). The refracting telescope having an aperture of 100mm in diameter has an area equivalent to approximately 7850mm 2.

The 100mm aperture telescope is therefore capable of collecting 7850/50 = 157x more light, which is then available through the telescope eyepiece. In other words, looking through the telescope will enable an observer to see objects which are 157 times fainter than could be seen with the unaided eye.

Following the same calculation, the 150mm aperture reflecting telescope would enable the same observer to see objects which were 353 times fainter than could be seen with the unaided eye.

Clearly then, if you want to observe faint star fields or galaxies and nebulae, then a bigger telescope aperture is certainly better. If you have a particular object in mind which you would like to see, then knowing how faint it is should allow you to then ‘work backwards’ with the above calculation, to determine if the telescope you have would be suitable.

Telescope Focal Length and Magnification

The focal length of the telescope is representative of either the physical ‘length’ of the telescope, or its optical configuration. A short focal length will give a wide field of view (the area of night sky that can be seen), with the objects in that field of view appearing small, whereas a long focal length will give a narrow field of view, but with the objects appearing larger.

The magnification of the telescope is the result of a combination of the focal length of the telescope itself, and focal length of the telescope eyepiece. A telescope of a certain focal length will produce an image of a certain size, which is fixed and will not vary.

The eyepiece, effectively used as a microscope, then views that image. A larger image to start with allows the eyepiece to produce a higher magnification. So, by changing the eyepiece, the magnification of the telescope can also be changed.

For example, a recommended focal length for either a refracting or reflecting telescope would be at least 1000mm.
Using this figure, we can then calculate the following:

An eyepiece of long focal length, say 25mm, will produce a magnification of 1000/25 = 40x.
An eyepiece of short focal length, say 10mm, will produce a magnification of 1000/10 = 100x.

Using the same calculation, the same eyepieces used on a telescope having a focal length of 1500mm would give magnifications of 60x and 150x respectively.

Telescopes with long focal length are ideal for observing the craters on the moon or the features of the brighter planets.

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