Using a telescope can be fun and exhilarating but you need to make sure you are using it properly to get the best possible outcome there is. In order to properly use it, you need to know a little about the telescope. So lets begin!
What do the numbers on the telescope mean?
You should know that the numbers represent a different factor. The number on the telescope eyepiece represents the focal length of the eyepiece. On the other hand, the magnification of the telescope eyepiece is determined by the focal length of the telescope divided by the focal length of the eyepiece. For example, if the telescope has a focal length of 1200mm and the eyepiece being used has a focal length of 20mm, the magnification yielded will be 60x. However, this will change if you are using a different telescope. For instance, if you use that same eyepiece, will a focal length of 20mm with a telescope with a focal length of 600mm, the magnification will only be 30x.
Recommended telescope eyepieces for beginners
If you are a beginner it is always a smart idea to start observing with the lowest magnification eyepiece. It is easier to begin with the lower, until you are well adapted with the use of your telescope should you get a higher magnification eyepiece. You want to look at the big number marked on the eyepiece for the focal length. Remember that this represents the focal length and not the magnification of the telescope.
Magnification – Low vs. High
When getting and using a telescope, magnification is an important factor to understand. If you are using a low magnification eyepiece, you definitely will have a wider field of view. What this means is that the amount of sky you can see through your eyepiece will be much more in comparison to a high magnification telescope eyepiece. Also, the images observed will be brighter and sharper than the ones observed with high magnification. The fact that you have a wider field of view and brighter images, it makes finding the object through your telescope much easier. You can observe the difference by doing the following: after finding the object with a low magnification eyepiece, move the telescope so it can become close to the center of the field of view, then remove the low magnification eyepiece with a higher magnification eyepiece. Can you still see the object? If you can, it probably doesn’t look the same and if you can’t, replace the higher magnification with a lower one. You should remember that as the magnification increases, the field of view and image brightness decreases. Objects may become too faint to see with a very large magnification. This is why you should use enough magnification that will provide you with good images. If you have come to a point where the image is blurred, or you cannot see the details properly, you are using too much magnification.
Using Barlow Lens for a Telescope
A Barlow lens is a diverging lens that is used with other optics in order to increase the focal length in the optical system. In other words it magnifies the image by double (2x Barlow) or even triple (3x Barlow) the magnification of the eyepiece you attach to it. You can use the Barlow lens with your telescope eyepiece easily. All you have to do is remove the eyepiece from the focuser and insert the Barlow, after that reinsert the eyepiece into the Barlow. For best outcomes it is recommended to use the Barlow with a low magnification eyepiece. When it is used with a high magnification eyepiece, it can become too much magnification for your telescope, giving distorted images.
Objects in the Field of View
A telescope not only magnifies objects, it also magnifies the earths rotation, which makes it hard to keep a steady view of objects especially when the magnification is high. When you are using a manual telescope mount, you will constantly need to relocate and recapture the object you are viewing by slightly moving your telescope. With a motorized mount, this process is done for you and it keeps the object in view in the eyepiece.
Expectations vs. Reality of What Can Be Observed from your Telescope
We all see the wonderful images in magazines, books or websites that are “seen through a telescope” and want to capture those images ourselves. Unfortunately, the pictures you see in magazines or books are seen through very large observatory telescopes and the images are captured by special cameras that make them look spectacular. In reality, you will be able to see similar images but they will be much smaller, less spectacular and less detailed because the telescope that you will be using is going to be much smaller and cannot be expected to produce the same quality images as the large observatory telescope. It is important that you lower your expectations so you can properly enjoy the view.
Benefits of Observing through a Telescope
If you are new to this, you may look through the eyepiece and see a little smudge of light and not really understand or enjoy what you are looking at. This can be disappointing, especially to a first timer. But don’t worry that can change! If you put some time and a little effort into understanding and learning about the sky, you may be surprised to realize that the smudge you see contains billions of stars. Some glimpses of light you see may have even taken millions of years to be able to reach your telescope. Be patient and really get to know what you are observing, the sky is a wonderful and amazing phenomenon that can always be enjoyed with new things to be discovered. It’s always different when you see or read things on paper and when you experience them in actuality. The difference is beautiful, when you can say, “I’ve seen Jupiter” rather than seeing a picture of the planet that outshines every star and most planets!
Newbies to Astronomy
Just like everything else, when learning something new it can be hard and frustrating at the beginning. It’s important that you see it as a good type of challenge. Trying to find faint and hard to see objects is tough but the exhilaration you get once you get the hang of it is abundant! Most amateurs like to get computerized telescopes but its much more exciting being able to navigate a star map and finding the galaxies or nebulas all by yourself after spending hours looking for them! The universe is extraordinary and knowing your way around the night’s sky is a beautiful way to connect, explore and understand the world around us.
Now that you have a better understanding of what the features are and what they mean and have an idea of what to expect, you can read our “Easy Guide to Set Up Your Telescope” and “Beginners Guide to Telescope Observing” for more information to get your adventures to start! Happy observing!