A Guide to Using a Small telescope

How to Use a small telescope

Two Small TelescopesThis is a guide for getting the most out of a telescope like one of these. Maybe you have a telescope like this refractor or like thereflector shown in the picture. Something like these are very popular and a lot of people buy one because they are interested in astronomy and taking a look at things in the night sky.

But once they get it outside they don't know what to do or what to look for and it can be a disappointing experience. The telescope is set aside and rarely used again. But you can really have a wonderful astronomy experience with a small telescope like this if you just know how to use it.

This is a guide to help you use one of these types of telescopes to its maximum potential.

Before Starting:

One: Bring the telescope outside an hour before you are planning to use it. This will acclimate it to the temperature. Otherwise the optics will dew up and reduce the viewing without you even knowing it.

Two: Find the darkest spot you can find. Better for the telescope and better for your eyes.

Three: Stand outside in the dark area for 15 minutes to allow your pupils to open ;up for maximum viewing.

Four: don't put the telescope on a deck. Put it on solid ground. Walking on the deck will cause the viewing image to shake..

Five: Try to do your viewing on a night with no moon or just a sliver of moon. Moon causes light pollution that washes the rest of the sky out.


If you just point your telescope at the sky and start looking around there is a lot of empty space and this is all you will see:

So you should set up the little finder scope to help you fix this situation. You use this little scope to find something first then look at it through the big telescope. It has to be pointed the same way as the telescope to work though. Here is how you set up the finderscope.

Look through the finder scope. It has crosshairs in it.

Point the finder scope at a faraway object and center the object on the crosshairs.

Now look through the telescope. Is it also centered on the object?

If not then adjust the screws on the finder until they are both seeing the same image.


Now, to find object like galaxies, nebulae and planets you will need to use a star map. The star map shows you where all these objects are. What you do is find a constellation in the sky then zero in on the object. The constellation and the stars in it are a guidemap and reference for finding the object.

This image shows the constellation of Orion:

And this image shows a nebula you can look at with your telescope.

So find the constellation of Orion with your eyes, then point your telescope finder at a bright star near the nebula. From there you can slowly move the scope to find the nebula.

Start out with the lowest power eyepiece

If your telescope has several eyepieces you should start out with the lowest power (It has the biggest lens in it). In the picture below the eyepiece on the left has the biggest lens and is the lowest power

This will give you a view of more of the sky so you can more easily find things.

It will be easy to find the object, then center the object and switch to the high powered eyepiece to get a closer look.


A small telescope can show you a lot of amazing things in the night sky. You won't see things like this:

But you will get good looks at things like this:

And this:


The Concise Atlas of the StarsThe Concise Atlas of the Stars - An innovative guide to the night sky.

Most casual stargazers and amateur astronomers have limited time to spend on their hobby. Given the choice, they would prefer to spend their time viewing stars and constellations rather than trying to find or identify them.

The Concise Atlas of the Stars uses transparency overlays for the full-page images of the night to identify the stars, nebulas, galaxies and the 15 most interesting constellations. Each constellation featured is presented as a full-page spread with a transparent overlay. Details include:

  • Name of the constellation
  • Location, luminosity and dimensions of the main stars and most interesting objects
  • Best time of night for observing
  • History and characteristics
  • Map of the constellation and its surroundings
  • Transparency showing the outline of the constellation with its stars
  • Full-page night-sky photo of the constellation.

A concealed wiro-binding allows the book to open flat at any page to keep hands free for adjusting a telescope.

Attractively illustrated with clear star maps and spectacular photographs, this book will be consulted again and again The Concise Atlas of the Stars is an accurate and handy reference to the night sky.

Star Wheel

Sky & Telescope's Star Wheel 40 North




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