Read these 20 Telescope Lenses, Filters and Other Accessories Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Telescopes tips and hundreds of other topics.
To improve your view of the night sky, you can add deep sky filters to your telescope. Deep sky filters will reduce the impact of lights from buildings and the city infrastructure. City lights aren't the only source of illumination that can hamper your stargazing. When the temperature falls during evening hours, the release of energy from daylight hours gives off small amounts of light. By using deep sky filters, faint objects such as star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae, can become apparent. The deep sky filter works by cutting out a specific spectrum of light, such as those emitted by streetlights.
One way to observe the sun and keep your eyes protected is by using solar filters with your telescope. Solar filters can work in one of two ways – either by cutting down the amount of heat and light passing through the lens with a neutral density filter or by allowing only a specific wavelength to pass through the lens, such as hydrogen alpha wavelength with a hydrogen alpha filter.
The important thing to remember when engaging in solar observation is to keep safety rules in mind. Always make sure your solar filter is attached firmly to your telescope, with no gaps to allow direct sunlight in. Also attach your solar filter securely to your telescope and make sure it will not come loose. Solar observation, when practiced with adherence to safety measures, can introduce you to a new realm of spectacular imagery.
In 1980, the 13 mm Nagler eyepiece made its debut and amateur astronomers welcomed the use of the new telescope accessory, the first of its kind to have a wide field of view and produce sharp images. Al Nagler founded TeleVue Optics in 1977 and since that time, TeleVue eyepieces have evolved to a line of Plössls, Radians, and Panoptics in addition to Naglers. TeleVue eyepieces come with multi-coated lenses, blackened edges, and anti-reflection threads. Because of the quality and reputation of TeleVue eyepieces, discontinued models have become a collector's item. According to CEO Al Nagler, TeleVue eyepieces are never discontinued due to lack of sales, but only in instances where an eyepiece can be improved. The original “Wide Fields” and Nagler type 2 eyepieces often sell for more than their original price tag.
Even with a high quality commercial grade dew cap, if you stay out under the stars long enough, chances are, your telescope can still develop dew. In order to alleviate this problem, one thing you can do is purchase a dew removal system, available from most telescope retailers. A dew removal system is battery operated and works by heating up the lens back above dew point, preventing dew from forming. They attach to your telescope with the use of Velcro fastener. Kendrick and Orion make two widely known systems for dew removal.
Telescope eyepieces are an essential part of your telescope for observing different objects in space. There are five main types of eyepieces available:
Huygenian – This type of telescope eyepiece is the most basic and inexpensive. It is usually the standard eyepiece sold with a refractor telescope you would find in a department store.
Kellner – This inexpensive eyepiece has a wide field of view. You may find some lens aberrations with this type of eyepiece.
Othoscopic – The orthoscopic eyepiece was regarded as the standard for eyepieces for many years until newer versions came onto the market. This type of eyepiece is available with a select number of manufacturers.
Plössl – The Plössl is the top of the line among telescope eyepieces. This model gives you a wide scope of field even with fast telescopes.
Extra Wide Field – With this telescope eyepiece, you get a field of view up to 84 degrees. With most other models, you will get a field of view from 40 to 50 degrees.
Unfortunately, when you're using a telescope eyepiece with a short focal length, such as four to eight millimeters, it puts you in a position to be closer to the component in order to get a clear view. If you wear eyeglasses, the problem can become further exacerbated. In order to resolve the problem of maintaining eye relief, you can employ the use of accessories such as Barlow lenses. Barlow lenses come in magnifications ranging from 1.75 to 5, increasing your magnification level and assisting in your ability to view the object while giving you some space from the telescope eyepiece.
If you need good eye relief, an alternative to using the Barlow lens is the Lanthanum eyepiece. Eye relief is more than just rest for a stargazer's weary eyes. Eye relief is actually the distance your eye needs to be away from the eyepiece in order to see the entire field of view. Lanthanum is a rare element used to change the refractive index of glass, making an improvement to the design of the eyepiece. If you are a stargazer with astigmatism, you'll find a Lanthanum eyepiece helpful.
To find your objects with speed and ease, try adding a single power finder to your telescope. The single power finder is not the same as a finderscope, which magnifies the image in view. You can use your single power finder as a simple and quick method of locating objects. All you need to do is look through a simple power finder and point your telescope in the right direction. Within the view of the single power finder, you'll see a bulls-eye pattern. Your goal will be to center your object of choice within the pattern. An ideal way to start is by using a lower power eyepiece to give you a wider field of view.
Telescopes are designed for use during the night time hours. One caveat to nocturnal usage lies in the susceptibility of a telescope to moisture. Frost or dew can easily develop on a telescope whenever the temperature cools or in damp climates. One solution to protecting your telescope is employing the use of a lens shade/dew cap. The lens shade/dew cap is a simple cylindrical device which attaches to the end of your telescope to shield it from moisture. Dew caps come in plastic or metal formats to fit a variety of circumference dimensions.
There are a number of different Lumicon filters you can use for astrophotography, depending on the object you intend to photograph. The Lumicon Deep Sky Filter is the best product among the line for nearly every application of astrophotography, including photographing stars, nebulae, and galaxies. The Deep Sky Filter works by blocking out certain types of light, such as airglow, and improving the photographic images of deep sky objects.
For very faint nebulae, you should the Lumicon Night-Sky Hydrogen-Alpha Filter, or Deep Sky Filter. The Night-Sky Hydrogen Alpha Filter works well with reflectors and has an intermediate level of performance with Schmidt-Cassegrains. However, it does not work as well with refractors. Other Lumicon filters such as the Minus Violet Filter will work well with astrophotography as well.
With repeated use, your Lumicon filter will need to undergo cleaning to keep it optimal for viewing.
1. Start by cleaning your hands free of any dirt and debris.
2. Use compressed air to remove excess dirt or dust off of your Lumicon filter.
3. Use isopropyl alcohol or a lens cleaning solution and a cotton swab to clean your Lumicon filter.
4. Move the cotton swab along the Lumicon filter in a twisting fashion, using a part of the cotton swab only once.
5. Continue the process with a new swab until your Lumicon filter is clean and streak free.
To further enrich your telescope viewing experience, try adding a telescope software package to explore the night sky. A telescope software package such as Starry Night allows you to input the date, time, and your location in order to find out what you can observe that night, search through their database, explore galaxies, or sync with a computerized telescope to observe a specific itinerary. Starry Night comes in a variety of versions, depending on your experience and interests. You can select from Starry Night Enthusiast, Starry Night Pro, Starry Night Pro Plus, or Starry Night Complete Space & Astronomy Deluxe Edition.
There are some cases where you want to reduce the focal ratio on your telescope in order to take the perfect night sky photo. For instance, if you own a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a focal ratio of f/10, meaning the lens has a focal length 10 times its diameter, you should consider using a focal reducer to take pictures. An f/10 focal ratio has a long focal length and slow exposure speed to photograph objects like larger galaxies and nebulae. The focal reducer works by altering the beam of light in the telescope before it hits the eyepiece, reducing the focal ratio.
For most astronomy enthusiasts, you can get by without the use of color filters. However, there are certain situations where color filters may enhance your viewing experience. Color filters work well when you want to enhance the detail on a planet by placing a complimentary color on your telescope. For instance, if you are looking at a blue colored marking on a planet you may want to add an orange color filter to your telescope. Keep in mind that when you are viewing deep sky objects, color filters serve no value to your viewing experience.
Focal reducers work by shortening the focal length of a telescope to give you a wider field of view and speeding up the focal ratios – ideal for situations where you are photographing the night sky. Some focal reducers also come with field flatteners. With a basic focal reducer, stars at the edge of field may become blurry and out of focus. Field flatteners work to reduce the curvature in the field of view, improving the sharpness of images at the edges.
The last thing you want to happen, when in the middle of viewing a bright comet lighting up the sky, is for the power on your telescope mount to run out. Your telescope mount most likely uses a 12v battery and you also have the option of additional batteries or the lighter socket of you car with an adapter; however, batteries may not supply you with power for an extended length of time and using the lighter socket of your car is not always convenient.
In this case consider adding a portable power tank to your telescope accessories. A portable power tank will supply power to your telescope mount for many hours of use, eliminating the problem of a power loss at an inopportune time. You can use a 12v battery intended for emergency use to start a car or find one made from a telescope manufacturer specifically for telescope use.
What budding astronomer would want to find his or her way around the stars without the use of sky maps? Sky maps help you to identify stars, constellations, and planets, and help you find them through your telescope. Traditional sky maps, are available in a book format, available through bookstores or telescope retailers. For those who like a more high-tech approach, you can also use computerized sky maps, allowing you to browse through large databases of thousands of celestial objects and even allowing you to connect with a computerized telescope for an automated tour of the Milky Way or Andromeda.
A telescope, as a piece of specialized optical equipment, will function on its own, without any additional parts or gadgets. However, there is an array of basic telescope accessories that very beginning astronomy enthusiasts to the serious astronomy hobbyists use with a telescope to make the whole stargazing experience an enriched one, or in the very least, easier.
Tripod – The tripod is a standard three-legged support which holds your telescope. Most telescopes come with a tripod which has been designed specifically for use with that telescope. An altazimuth mount, will allow you to move your telescope with horizontal and vertical movements. An equatorial mount allows you to adjust quickly by rotating your telescope on an axis.
Eyepiece – Your telescope will also come with one or more eyepieces, the component allowing you to view objects. In order to increase your viewing experience, you can upgrade the performance of your telescope by choosing a quality eyepiece, such as a Plössl or Orthoscopics eyepiece.
Finderscopes – This piece of equipment is the small secondary telescope attached to the main body of your telescope. Basic telescope accessories usually come with a budget finderscope. A 5 x 24 finderscope is a basic version usually seen in less expensive optical equipment. You can upgrade your finderscope to a 6 x 30 or 8 x 50 version to better view hard to see objects in the night sky.
Light pollution filters, known as LPR filters for light pollution rejection, work by cutting out a spectrum of color. By selecting the LPR filter which blocks out a specific spectrum, you can see objects you would not otherwise, such as objects in deep space. The Lumicon Deep Sky Filter is one type of LPR filter. It works by blocking out the mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium vapor and low pressure sodium vapor lamp lights, neon lights, and airglow. The Lumicon Deep Sky filter allows the remainder of the visible spectrum through, allowing you to see deep sky objects such as star clusters and nebula you wouldn't otherwise see.
Sometimes, even a commercial dew cap cannot completely protect your telescope from dew. If dew still develops in spite of your commercial dew cap, you can use a small hair dryer, and apply it to your telescope in order to get a warm stream of air going to your lens or corrector if dew develops. The airflow would be just enough to remove dew from your telescope on a cold night. One thing to remember is that it is important to avoid airflow at high temperatures, as this might cause a distortion in the glass.