Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Telescope in the Store: Is It Good Enough?

Before you buy, can you:

A. Get a specific visible object in view? (Bright star, planet...anything harder to find than the Moon.)

B. Keep it in view for fifteen minutes or more without heroic efforts?

c. View it for that long or longer without an aching back, neck, or other physical discomfort?

D. View comfortably both standing and sitting?

What's needed:

A. Good low power or Telrad or red dot/ring finder, stable mount, working mount movement locks.

B. Good drive or slow motion controls.

C. Eyepiece at a good height and angle, good eye relief. May require an eyepiece diagonal, tube rotator rings, or other ways of bringing the view to where your body puts your eyes.

D. Suitably adjustable tripod, stand, and other accommodations as for C.

Note: Don't go by what store clerks or product literature tell you should work or should be possible. I have had many scopes with locking screws that don't lock, slow motion controls that are too coarse or sticky or difficult to adjust to be useful. Finders that don't let you see enough of the sky to find anything, wobbly mounts, diagonals that you can't use because the focuser won't adjust enough to focus with them in--all delivered with the telescope!

Don't blame yourself! If it's not working, it's not your fault!

Any properly designed product should do what it claims with the ability of an ordinary person of average ability. Contact the manufacturer or seller to make sure you're not just misunderstanding something, but if you're using the product as intended and not getting results--it's not a good product. Don't fall into the trap of thinking it's you.