…continuedThe Art of Using a Telescope
Life's Little Comforts
Naturally, this sort of concentration will be spoiled by any undue discomfort or inconvenience at the telescope. You'll need a table right at hand to hold your charts, red flashlight, eyepieces, notebook, pencil, and other gear. I've long used a cheap cardboard card table with fold-up metal legs. It's big, very light, and easy to carry and store. It cost $4 in a secondhand shop.
Nothing ruins your ability to see like having to twist and strain to look through the eyepiece. A rotating tube, which can turn in its cradle to orient the eyepiece where you prefer, is therefore a nice plus in a small reflector and almost mandatory in a large equatorially mounted one. If you can find or make an adjustable-height observing chair, your telescope may start showing new worlds. I've used an assortment of seats, from a milk crate to a stepladder.
Any jerkiness and backlash in your telescope's motions can also spell doom, especially if you lack a clock drive. Make sure your telescope is balanced properly by adjusting any counterweights; it shouldn't move in one direction more easily than in another. Don't be afraid to take a mount apart to lubricate and tighten it, or return it to the manufacturer if it's truly unsatisfactory. The mount I bought for my 6-inch reflector years ago was originally quite jerky. After trying various lubricants, I settled on candle wax rubbed onto all the bearing surfaces. The mount's "clamps" were merely bolts that tightened head-on against the shafts; I epoxied small pieces of leather to the bolt ends, impregnated these with graphite powder and a little oil, and thus gained adjustable tension. The improvement was enormous. At high power I could follow the stars with a smooth, continuous motion just by touching the side of my nose against the eyepiece.
In wintertime, you can either heed the astronomer's standard advice namely, dress for 20°F to 30°F colder than the actual temperature or you can learn the hard way. As for the summer, it remains a mystery how successful observations were performed before the invention of mosquito repellent.
In short: Anything that makes your observing easier, surer, or more relaxed, no matter how much trouble it takes beforehand, is worth the effort.