Tips and Tricks before you Start
“Your best viewing tool is your brain.” * Just ask anyone who has been viewing for a bit what, apart from a clear night, is the best viewing tool and they are bound to say, strangely – not a Nagler Eyepiece- but experience. When you first look at faint objects or even bright planets, you see very little. View these objects through a variety of instruments over a period of years and much more is noticed. Subtleties of shade, colour and texture emerge. Planets change, galaxies are more easily grasped and one night when you strike the right conditions you realise that your mediocre telescope is really a top class instrument!
“Clear Glass won’t help a muddled mind.” * Forget, Hubble, pictures on the Web and glowing reports from viewers in Texas. Apart from the Sun, Moon and planets at their best, most objects in the sky are small, faint and require much coaxing and eye training to reveal their secrets. Subtract 4 magnitudes from most comet predictions and divide manufacture magnification suggestions for most telescopes by half.
“ Forget all you learned about East and West, Up and Down.” * This becomes clear when we realise that most objects are drifting west at the eyepiece only because our telescope is catching a ride east. The more we magnify the image the faster it moves west. So at the eyepiece West is always the direction in which everything moves, South is the direction in our garden or viewing field where we see Crux. Other directions follow from this.
“ Human Eyes are for Daylight and TV: darkness defeats them.” * Quality viewing occurs half and hour after leaving bright lights, TVs and computers. View in an area with minimum streetlights, block reflective light from your telescope and use any kind of dim light to read your maps.
“Telescopes are neither instruments of torture nor fitness machines.” * The most important features of your telescope are portability, ease of use and smoothness of operation. Unless you are a serious collector or an overgrown bowerbird, rid yourself of any instrument you have not used for twelve months or one that results in frequent visits to your physiotherapist. [* The Annals of McGonigal the Great]