Long-exposure astrophotography requires an accurately aligned equatorial mount.
Ordinary binoculars are your ideal "first telescope." And they're so versatile that even seasoned stargazers find them indispensable.
Old astronomy books often say you can get sharper images on a night of poor seeing by stopping down your telescope with a cardboard mask so it has a smaller aperture. New books don’t mention this. It this a forgotten secret? In my experience, if stopping down a telescope sharpens the view under any circumstance,…
How to keep your optics dry and clear even on the dampest, dewiest nights.
China recently unveiled FAST, the world's largest single dish radio telescope.
Taking deep-sky pictures requires a skill that's involved in no other kind of photography: guiding on a star.
Some eyepieces are being advertised as offering the widest possible true field in any telescope. How is this determined? The amount of sky shown by an eyepiece is governed by the diameter of its field stop, the ring that defines the edge of the visible field. On a given telescope, you can compute the true…
My old German equatorial mount won't hold the proper tilt for my latitude. What can I do? Believe it or not, grease the threads and washer of the large bolt that clamps the polar-axis housing to the tripod head. Then tighten it. — Dennis di Cicco
I want to see a planetary transit. How can I polar align my telescope in the daytime? One good way is to use the Sun. Carefully level your mount with a bubble level and set the polar axis to the latitude of your site. Hang a weighted string from the mount (between the tripod legs)…
How do I keep my finder from dewing over when I observe? Your finder should have a light shield (“dewcap”), which you can cover between uses. Or you can purchase an anti-dewing device. This need not be expensive. You probably have a box full of them at home: A simple tissue stuffed into the light…
Nebulae and galaxies invariably look like shapeless, colorless blobs in my 6-inch telescope, a far cry from their spectacular appearance in photographs. If I buy a 12- or 14-inch scope, will I see a dramatic improvement? Would that it were so! A larger telescope will better reveal the shapes of nebulae and galaxies, and it…
Very carefully — and not often! Here are some tips to help you keep your optics clean.
Accurate optical alignment is neither difficult, mysterious, nor time-consuming. In fact, it's only three steps away.
The mirror in your telescope will probably work fine with a bit of dust on it, but if it's really dirty, you may want to clean it — carefully!
How high can you get? How low can you go? The answers depend on many factors that combine to give each telescope a useful magnitude range.
"Seeing" — the atmospheric quivering that fuzzes out high-power views — is the bane of every telescope user. Here's how to minimize its impact.
Thousands of telescopes are given and received as gifts during the holidays. But once you've assembled your new treasure, then what? The editors of Sky & Telescope show you where to look first.
Abandoned for 25 years, a 12-meter antenna once used during the Cold War is now introducing astronomy students to the radio universe.
Should I wear eyeglasses while observing? If you are near-or farsighted, with no other eye problems, definitely take them off. You’ll have to tweak the focus, but you’ll see objects in the telescope just as clearly as if you had 20:20 vision. By taking off your glasses you’ll avoid the “tunnel vision” effect often caused…
Learn some of the classic stargazing sights that can be best viewed through a smaller telescope.
When Galileo Galilei first turned a telescope to the heavens four centuries ago, he discovered amazing things — and you can follow in his footsteps.
Assessing your telescope's state of cooling is the first step on the road to optimal performance.
Here are common questions about telescopes culled from an expert’s mailbag.
A no-nonsense primer to an astronomical rite of passage.
What does “true color” mean in a deep-space photograph? How would a galaxy or nebula actually look to the naked eye from close up? “True color” is how an object would look if you were nearby or were viewing it in a telescope under a dark sky, and if its surface brightness (the amount of…