It’s in the stars | Get the best from your new telescope

UNIVERSAL APPEAL: Enjoy the wonders of the night sky with a new telescope.
UNIVERSAL APPEAL: Enjoy the wonders of the night sky with a new telescope.

Did you get a telescope for Christmas? Lucky you!

The New Year in Australia is great for sky gazers. The sky is full of bright stars, prominent constellations and fascinating celestial sights. Lots of budding astronomers get their start in January using telescopes they got for a Christmas present.

While it is true that many have been hooked on skywatching for life by viewing the wonders of the night sky through their first scope, it is also true that many others have had their initial enthusiasm for astronomy dampened, particularly if they didn't know how to properly use it.

Was your new instrument advertised by the manufacturer as promising “spectacular views” of the moon or the rings of Saturn at magnifications of, say, 500-power or more?

Unfortunately, it won’t happen. High power dilutes the brightness of an image, as well as aggravates any unsteadiness of detail.

You’ll probably be surprised to discover that your most pleasing views with your new scope will come at much lower powers, that is using eyepieces of around 25mm.

Low power, in fact, makes a telescope much more convenient to handle.

Wow, with so many inviting targets overhead what can you expect to see in your new telescope?

The Moon is one object that never fails to impress. During early January, the Moon is up early evenings and is a perfect target!

If you’ve got a camera in your smart phone hold it up close to the eyepiece, move it around till you see the Moon’s disc and click! You might get a neat photo out of it.

Your first astro pic!

Here’s a surprise we can’t wait to tell new telescope owners.

Go and find the familiar constellation we call the ‘Saucepan’ and find the middle ‘star’ of the handle.

It’s not a star it’s the famous Orion Nebula, a luminous, swirling cloud of gas and dust 1500 light years away where stars are being born.  

This nebula is obvious in any telescope, and always gives me a buzz.

Oh, I almost forgot, check out the Southern Cross as well. It’s lying low down on its side in the south east all this month.

Venus is brilliant right now appearing as a ‘bright star’ in the western sky.

A telescope can keep you busy on the Moon forever. I’m living proof of that.

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