Tag Archives: tips

How to use an Equatorial Mount for Beginners

In this video, I will introduce new astronomers to the basics of using telescopes on an equatorial mount. How to use an Equatorial Mount for Beginners will explain the difference between an equatorial mount and an altazimuth mount and the advantages of each. How to determine the right ascension and declination motions using slow motion control knobs. Without getting too technical, I will describe the equatorial grid, right ascension, declination and how your equatorial mount follows these imaginary lines. I also walk through a simulation of how it would operate out in the field using Stellarium planetarium software.

Astronomy Observation Session Checklist and Tips

I live in a white/red zone so my skies only show the major stars of the constellations, so I have to drive to a dark sky site whenever I want to observe DSO’s. It seems every time I drive out to a dark sky site for astronomy sketching and observation, I always end up forgetting to bring something. Last night, I forgot to bring my observer’s chair. The night before that, it was my blending stump. So I came up with a checklist for me to go over before each trip.

I only bring 1 telescope at a time so I will only check off items under the ‘Dob’ or ‘Newt’ categories.

Category Item
Dob OTA caps
Dob Mount
Dob Altitude Handles
Dob Focuser adapters/caps
Newt OTA cap
Newt Mount
Newt Suppression pucks
Newt Focuser cap
Accessories Eyepieces & caps
Accessories Flashlights
Accessories Observer’s chair
Tools Sky Atlas
Tools Laser Collimator
Tools Allen key & screwdriver
Sketching Clipboard
Sketching Pencils
Sketching Blending stump
Sketching Sketch templates
Sketching Reading light
Attire Eyeglasses
Attire Jacket & Hat
Attire Gloves
Optional Laptop
Optional Binoculars
Optional Camera
Mandatory Coffee

At the end of the observing session, I use the checklist again to make sure I did not forget anything. If I am alone at the site, I also drive over and light up the spot to  check for any garbage I might have left behind.

Common Sense Tips

They may not applicable to you, but these obvious ones are my pre-requisites:

  1. Make sure the weather forecast is favourable.
  2. Ensure my car has enough gas for a round trip.
  3. Fully charge my mobile phone’s battery.
  4. Tell someone where I’m going and when I will be back.

Are you an amateur astronomer who has to drive to a dark site to observe like me? Care to tell us what you have on your checklist, if you have one?