10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

You have a telescope, tripod and a selection of eyepieces, so which accessories can make your observing time more fun or productive. Here is a list of 10 useful accessories to take your star gazing to the next step. Here you can find some links for more information.

1. Barlow Lens

Celestron x2 Barlow

 

Barlow lens usually comes in 2x and 3x magnification. You put the Barlow lens into the usual place for your eyepieces on your telescope and then put your eyepiece into the Barlow lens. The reason why they are so useful is because you instantly double the range of eyepiece magnification you own, as each eyepiece can now give you two different magnifications. Also, lower power eyepieces tend to be easier to look through because the lens is larger and so the distance your eye has to be from the lens is more comfortable (termed eye relief) so a Barlow lens lets you see higher magnification more comfortably also.

 

Televue 24mm Panoptic

2. Wide-field Eyepiece

 

Just like a Barlow lens helps in magnification a good wide-field eyepiece allows you to see more of the night sky through the eyepiece. This lets you find objects more easily and enjoy some constellations in their entirety. The 24mm Panoptic by Tele vue is a good choice but pricey.

 

3. Red Light Torch

 

You have just spent 30 minutes getting your eyes adapted to the dark, you think you can see a faint nebula and consult your star chart to see if you are right. You switch on your torch to read the chart and in an instant you lose your dark vision. You now have to wait to adapt your eyes again. Sound familiar? The simple answer is to get a red light torch. The easiest way to do this is to put red finger nail polish on an old torch you don’t want anymore or you can purchase them inexpensively.

 

4. Power Tank

Celestron Power Tank

 

Many of the beginner telescopes run on batteries. It can be very frustrating to have your Goto telescope suddenly go haywire and start pointing at random areas of the sky because the batteries have run low, which usually ends the night of observing. A good power tank can last you a whole evening of observing. In addition, they can come with a red light to stop you ruining your dark vision that you have just spent 30 minutes adapting your eyes too and some even have a radio.

 

5. Dew Cap / Shield

 

Condensation in the spring and summer months can upset a good night out with the telescope. The simple way to get around this problem is to dry it off with a hairdryer. The problem with this is that you need to take a hairdryer with you outside and the warm air from it causes your telescope to warm up which will affect the views you have of the stars. A dew cap attaches to the front of your telescope and stops the condensation from collecting. Some dew caps can even use the power tank to dry the condensation on particularly bad nights. Remember to make sure you get the right size dew cap for your telescope.

 

6. Filters

Moon Filter

 

Filters attach to your eyepiece and change the light entering your view. The most useful one is a lunar filter that takes the glare out of observing the moon and adds contrast to the view. Colour filters can improve the view of the planets and a light pollution filter is designed to reduce the orange light from streetlights. These can improve the contrast between a faint deep space object and the night sky but the difference doesn’t appear to be that great.

 

7. Thermos Flask

 

On a cold night there is nothing better than a nice hot drink kept warm by a good quality thermos flask.

 

8. Hooded Top or Towel

 

Putting a hood over your head, or a towel, cuts out the local light pollution from nearby streetlights or people’s homes. This simple measure can make a big difference when observing.

 

9. Star Chart Smartphone apps

 

There are many star chart apps out there for smartphones. The Distant Suns app on the iphone comes highly recommended. It’ll tell you what is up in the night sky for you at the current time, zoom in on any star, constellation or deep space object. You can even point it at the night sky and it’ll tell you what you are looking at.

 

10. Webcam

 

This is bit of a long shot for a useful list. Webcams are one of the best ways to photograph planets. You can adapt webcams relatively inexpensively to photograph the planets. You can find videos on Youtube explaining how to do this This is a great way to start out in Astrophotography when you are ready to take that step in your hobby. The link is for a more expensive CCD camera, but it doesn't require any modifications.

Cheap Planetary Webcam




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Back to Beginners guide to Astronomy

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Part 1. Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy

Part 2. Binoculars or a telescope, which should I buy first?

Part 3. 5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

Part 4. Goto or Not Goto? That is the Question

Part 5. How to Set-up an Astronomy Telescope

Part 6. 8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

Part 7. 10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

Part 8. 5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

Part 9. Which Eyepieces Do I Need?

Part 10. 10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

Part 11: How Can I See Deep Space Objects Better?

Part 12: How Can I See More Detail On Planets?

Part 13: How to Dress for Astronomical Success

Extras: Beginner Astronomy Telescopes

Or Start reading the Learn Astronomy Blog

Or Start Finding Deep Space Objects with the Constellation and DSO Guide.


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