of accompanied by a good rainbow, obscuring fine detail. The guide like the Royal Astronomical in achromat refractors is commonly made Society of Canada’s Observer’s Handbook or of two or more of different types to Beginner’s Observing Guide is all you need to begin help correct this problem, Choosing understanding the night sky. known as . This most and Using a TELESCOPE READINESS TEST commonly manifests itself as faint fringes of colour “Space is mostly empty and you can find a around objects like the whole lot of nothing with a telescope” --- or , but it is Richard Weis, former President of rarely fully cured except in RASC-Calgary Centre. Telescope very expensive If you can do the following, then you are ready refractors. for Astronomy to make full and rewarding use of a telescope: Advantages: Refractors, by default, have a  Find and name four circumpolar totally clear . No central obstruction constellations causes to be scattered from brighter to For many people, the words ‘astronomy’ and  Find and name three constellations seen in darker areas. Thus, contrast is good in ‘telescope’ are inseparable. Many newcomers to the southern sky in each of the four seasons refractors. Refractors are often chosen as the the hobby of astronomy mistakenly believe that  Find and name - (a) 4 double stars (b) 4 premier instruments for planetary and double- it is important to get a telescope as quickly as variable stars (c) 5 star clusters (d) 5 nebulae star observing. Refractors are also low in possible. Because of the large variety in or galaxies maintenance. telescope designs, size, and quality, choosing a  Have you seen all of the above objects with Disadvantages: refractors are very massive and first telescope can be a daunting task that has either the unaided eye or with binoculars? expensive in larger sizes! Residual uncorrected large ramifications for the budding amateur  Can you find all of the above objects by colour haloes form around bright objects unless . Choose a telescope that is too large yourself (using binoculars if necessary)? apochromatic lens are used. or complex to use and it may never come out of  Are you familiar with at least one star atlas? storage for a quick viewing session. Pick one  Are you sure that you want to spend time Reflector that’s too small, of poor optical or questionable learning how to operate a telescope so that mechanical quality, and it may kill the passion you can explore the universe on your own? Reflectors use for visual astronomy altogether. , coated on TELESCOPE DESIGNS the front surface BINOCULARS with aluminum, to Refractor collect and focus As outlined in our companion brochure, The refractor is what most people imagine a “Choosing and Using Binoculars for light. Better systems telescope should look like. This design uses use Pyrex mirrors; Astronomy,” the ideal first telescope for lenses to bend, (refract) light to gather and focus astronomy is actually binoculars. They give a cheaper telescopes light. The large lens on the skyward end is called have plate glass wide field of view and a bright, right-side-up the objective and at the other end is the image of many interesting celestial objects. mirrors. In a eyepiece. A lens will not only bend the light, it Newtonian reflector Binoculars are relatively inexpensive and will unfortunately spread it out into a small versatile enough for other applications. A pair light enters the tube, strikes the large primary parabolic at the bottom of the tube, is reflector, a secondary mirror bounces light azimuth, the compass heading. A telescope on reflected to the flat secondary mirror near the through a hole in the this type of mount will move up and down, left top of the tube, and then is reflected sideways primary mirror to the and right, but will not readily compensate for into the eyepiece. eyepiece. The the motion of the . Maksutov telescope The also has a parabolic uses a thick spherical Dobsonian mounts are a version of the alt- primary mirror. Light is reflected off a corrector lens while azimuth mount that is commonly made of hyperboloidal secondary mirror through a the Schmidt corrector wood. This simple design is very rigid and is central hole in the primary mirror, allowing the plate has subtle ideal for a tube. eyepiece, or a camera, to be mounted at the curves. Newtonian Equatorial back end of the tube. versions of both telescopes also exist. If Earth did not move, an alt-azimuth mount Advantages: Reflecting telescopes suffer no would be all that any of us would ever need. An Advantages: Most compact of the three designs; chromatic aberration. Mirrors have only one readily compensates for the less expensive than refractors; huge assortment surface of careful tolerances and thus are less motion of the Earth. It does this sinceone of its of after-market accessories; can be totally expensive to produce than refractor objectives, axes is parallel to Earth’s spin. There are two computer driven; very popular. which require four surfaces to be refined. main types of equatorial mounts; the German

Equatorial, which places the telescope on one Reflectors are generally more portable than Disadvantages: More expensive than reflectors; end of a shaft and a counterweight on the other, refractors of similar aperture. Newtonian most dew-prone of the telescope types. designs are the most comfortable to use since and the fork mount, which looks like a tilted alt- the eyepiece is nearly always at a convenient MOUNTING SYSTEMS azimuth mount and has no counterweight. height. These mounts both come in two versions, An unstable mount will render the finest manual and motorized. If you have a choice, Disadvantages: All Newtonian reflectors suffer telescope unable to deliver quality images. If the select the motorized version. from , a defect that causes stars near the mount is undersized, — the bane of most Although most beginners chose this mount to edge of the field of view to look like a . large telescopes — will not be your only enemy. try , avoid any thoughts of The smaller the focal ratio of the Newtonian astrophotography for now because the steep scope, the greater the coma. You will experience ‘bouncing’ images even when you are focusing. The test of a quality learning curve, complexity, and difficulty of this aspect of the hobby can dissuade you from Reflectors are quite sensitive to being bumped mount is its ‘damp-down factor.’ This is the more enjoyable parts of astronomy. or transported. A reflector that is not set up as a time it takes an image to stabilize (for the permanent instrument should be collimated vibrations to dampen) after the telescope is GoTo drives prior to each observing session. moved or refocused. Under no circumstances should the image take more than five seconds to A GoTo system combines a small computer Catadioptric or Compound Designs damp down. with a dual-axis motor driver. GoTo drives require you to initially centre one or two stars The Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov- Alt-Azimuth for alignment. Most go-to telescopes Cassegrain are hybrids that have a mix of manufactured today have a large database of refractor and reflector elements in their design An alt-azimuth mount is the simplest type of objects from which you can select. Such systems to fold the optical path back onto itself, . The word derives from can operate in either alt-azimuth or equatorial resulting in a compact tube. Like the Cassegrain altitude, the distance above the horizon and modes. TELESCOPE BASICS maximum useful is usually given Accessories as 50x per inch or 2x per mm of aperture. Thus, In spite of the variety of designs, there are Because of the generally narrow fields of view, certain key functions all telescopes perform. a typical 60-mm refractor is, at best, really only a 120x telescope. So, if a low-quality, high-power most telescopes require some type of aiming Light-Gathering Power & Aperture device. Traditionally, this has been a finder Gathering light is the single most important eyepiece is included with the telescope, high (albeit empty) can be achieved. A scope, a small low-power wide-field telescope function a telescope performs since many mounted parallel with the main optical system. astronomical targets are faint. On top of this, 4-inch telescope can be used with eyepieces that provide up to about 200x, and so on. Choose one with good optics, and it will allow the act of magnifying an image spreads out the for pleasing views of star fields or large star light. Aperture is the size of the telescope’s Magnification can be changed by simply clusters that are too large for the main light-gathering element; whether it is an switching eyepieces in the telescope. To find out telescope.6x30 or 8x50 are good sizes to choose. objective lens, as in a refractor, or its main how much magnifying power an eyepiece gives, mirror, as in a reflector. The bigger the lens or divide the of the telescope by that A red dot or ‘heads-up’ display creates the mirror, the more light the telescope will gather, of the eyepiece, using the same units, of course. illusion of a red in the sky – showing you and the brighter the image will be. Telescope So, 1200mm/25mm = 48x. exactly where you are pointed. But it does not are circles, and the areas of circles magnify, or show objects fainter than your increase with the square of the radius, so Focal Length unaided eye can see. moving up in aperture, even modestly, can yield This is the effective length of the telescope’s big results. light path, from the main mirror or objective Eyepieces Resolution lens, to the focal point (the location of the In spite of the wide selection available, you This is a measure of how sharp and well-defined eyepiece). The longer the focal length, the really don’t need more than 3 or 4 carefully an image the telescope can produce. A higher the magnification the telescope will chosen eyepieces, a Barlow, and perhaps a filter telescope’s ability to resolve fine detail depends produce for any given eyepiece. The telescope’s or two. Eyepiece designs vary primarily by focal on a combination of both the size of its aperture focal length is usually marked on the telescope length (magnification) and apparent field of and the quality of the telescope’s optics. In most tube. view (AFOV). Larger AFOVs lead to wider true cases, good resolution of an image is more fields of view in the telescope. Eyepiece eye Focal Ratio important than magnification. relief is a consideration, especially for Focal ratio is an indication of the photographic wearers. It is typically better in longer focal ‘speed’ of the telescope’s optical system, and is Magnification lengths. given by the focal length divided by the The best magnification in a telescope is the aperture. Longer focal lengths (over f/8) are lowest one that will show you the details (quite Ramsden and Huygenian are inexpensive 2- ‘slower,’ while shorter (under f/6) are referred different from how small department or eyepiece designs with narrow fields of view to as being ‘faster.’ For visual use, these store telescopes are pitched to an unsuspecting commonly supplied with inexpensive telescopes. numbers can help in deciding what telescope to public). These eyepieces should be replaced with better- buy. Most ‘fast’ systems are more compact than quality eyepieces. Avoid any cheap refractor sold on the basis of their ‘slow’ brethren but are more likely to be its magnification as it is almost certainly a piece prone to optical shortcoming – chromatic The Kellner and related Modified Achromat of junk. These telescopes are little more than aberration in refractors and coma in reflectors, eyepieces are three-lens designs that have 40-45 toys and will likely kill your budding enthusiasm. for equivalent optical designs AFOV. Orthoscopics are 4-element Claims of 500x for such telescopes are eyepieces popular for planetary work. They have meaningless. Normally, a well-made telescope’s a 45 degree AFOV. The popular Plossl eyepiece uses 4 or 5 elements, to provide a 50-52 degree help you locate the nearest astronomy club. In everyone, regardless of experience. It is possible AFOV. Erfles use 6 elements, and have a wide Canada there is the Royal Astronomical Society to get a telescope that is too big! 60-65 degree FOV, with increasing distortions of Canada (RASC) with branches in many near the edge. Canadian cities. Check the RASC Web page You will need to spend lots of quality time with (www.rasc.ca) for links to the RASC Centre your telescope. The more you look, the more Newer designs, using 6 to 8 lens elements nearest you. Try to observe through any model you will see, and the better you will get. An provide high-quality AFOVs of 60 to 84 degrees you’re considering. Observe through as many experienced observer might enjoy deep-sky and some have amazing eye relief, regardless of telescopes as you can, and ask as many objects in an 80-mm refractor, while a beginner focal length, and are a godsend to those who questions as you can think of. Ask about setup with a “light bucket” is still struggling to find must wear glasses while observing. time, maintenance, accessories, and cost. If you the Nebula. can’t find an astronomy club nearby, call or visit A is a valuable accessory. Inserted a local planetarium. The staff there will be aware between the focuser and your eyepiece, a of any astronomy clubs in your area. Find out more Barlow will typically double or triple the magnification of any eyepiece. For $60-$100, When you are ready to buy a good starter To learn more about the you can effectively double the size of your telescope, contact a reputable dealer. Your local Royal Astronomical eyepiece collection. A Barlow preserves the eye astronomy club can steer you in the right Society of Canada relief of your longer-focal-length eyepieces, thus direction – they have had the experience of (RASC), or membership reducing the amount of squinting you have to doing business with many different dealers and in the Society, contact do, especially if you must wear glasses to correct their advice will be sound! Or visit our resource your local Centre or the astigmatism. directory (www.rasc.ca/resource/home.html) Society’s National Office: for a listing of Canadian suppliers of Purchasing a Telescope astronomical equipment. E-mail: There is no such thing as a good, inexpensive Expect to pay from $500 to $1000 to get decent [email protected] telescope. Department store telescopes may aperture and a scope that’s relatively portable. look attractive at first glance but they are usually Look for an 80-mm , or Telephone: more of a deterrent to an astronomy hobby than larger, on a stable mount or, 4.5”, 6”, or 8” Phone: (416) 924-7973 a help. Their optical components are cheap and reflecting telescopes. Beginners need early Toll free: (888)924-RASC (7272) of poor quality. They are usually supplied with success, and the 6” or 8” aperture is big enough Fax: (416) 924-2911 unstable mountings that wiggle, making it to throw up a bright pleasing image of most impossible to keep a steady view. They offer too common celestial objects. A 6” Dobsonian is Mailing Address: much magnification with a very narrow field of simple, cheap and will teach you a lot. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada view. This makes it nearly impossible to find simple design is an asset, since you will want to 203 - 4920 Dundas St W your target. The cheap lenses give fuzzy, poor- spend your time aiming and observing with your Toronto ON M9A 1B7 quality images. Altogether, they are telescope, rather than playing around with the disappointing and frustrating to use. sometimes-complicated controls on an Web site: Join On-line at: equatorial mount. Finally, the probability that a Two good places to start are your local library telescope will be used is inversely proportional www.rasc.ca www.store.rasc.ca and your local astronomy club. Your library to its size. This seems to apply to just about should have a list of clubs and organizations to