How to Use a Telescope

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With telescopes, "bigger is better." Large mirrors and large objective lenses gather more light and make for the most spectacular viewing experiences. The thrill of viewing distant galaxies, brilliant star clusters, unique nebulae, solar system planets and lunar features is nearly indescribable.


  1. Plan your viewing session.
  2. A particular item of interest may only be visible for a brief time after sunset.
  3. Gather the appropriate materials for the session. See Things You will Need for more details.
  4. Transport your telescope to the pre-selected viewing site.
  5. Set up and polar-align your telescope. Polar alignment is particularly important for motorized tracking telescopes and for viewers wishing to attempt astrophotography.
  6. Aim your telescope at the first item on your viewing list.
  7. Focus the telescope.
  8. Watch in amazement the awe-inspiring wonders of the universe as they unfold before your eyes.
  9. Share your viewing enjoyment with a friend.
  10. Aim your telescope at the next item on your viewing list.
  11. Repeat steps 6 through 9 for the duration of your viewing session.


  • Choose the largest aperture telescope you can afford and easily transport.
  • The eyepiece controls the magnification of the telescope. A select few eyepieces go a long way towards creating extraordinary viewing sessions. At first, use the lowest power eyepiece (the one with largest focal length number on it, for example, 25 mm), to make it easier to locate objects.
  • Familiarize yourself with telescope setup and operation. This is more easily done during daylight hours in the comfort of your home. Also, while it is still light outside, ensure that the finder scope crosshairs are aimed at the same point as the main tube. Use a distant object such as the tip of a telephone pole to check alignment. Adjust the finder scope as needed as it is essential for locating objects. It is cold after sunset and this is no time to be fumbling with the users manual.
  • Good quality telescopes come with adequate instructions for setting up and polar-aligning the telescope.
  • Find the darkest possible location for viewing.
  • Personal safety should be a primary consideration. Be sure to seek permission from property owners to avoid charges of trespassing. Also give consideration to the local wildlife and be sure you have taken appropriate precautions to avoid disturbing it.
  • Dress for success. Nights become chilly, even downright cold after sunset. Dress in layered clothing appropriate for the season to make your viewing session as comfortable as possible.
  • Warnings

    • Since this is a rule and not a commandment, it is made to be broken. Obey this rule until you fully understand the conditions under which the rule may be safely broken.

    Things You Will Need

    • Star charts to help locate an item in the heavens
    • The telescope and the necessary accessories
    • Snacks and hot beverages to stave off the chill of cool nights
    • Warm clothes

    Related wikiHows

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