Stargazing For Dummies
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You will likely need to constantly re-adjust the focus of your telescope when stargazing, because everyone’s eyes are different. You’ll want to know how to focus your telescope before you try it in the dark, so try it during the daylight hours until you are comfortable with how it works.

The eyepieces are what magnify and focus the light for your eyes. By slightly adjusting their position, you can change the focus so that blurry stars become sharp points of light. You adjust the focus near the eyepiece tube, usually by turning a small knob or a dial. (All telescopes are a little different, so you should look in your telescope instruction manual to help you find your focus control.)

After you find the focus control, point your telescope at a distant target (not the Sun!) and adjust the focus so that you get a sharp image. Practise changing the focus while looking through the eyepiece, finding the focus control and adjusting it without looking. After you get the hang of focusing, you should be able to adjust the focus at night to make all the stars appear as perfectly sharp dots.

Telescopes are built to look at very distant objects, such as stars and planets, and they won’t be able to focus very easily on nearby targets. Don’t be surprised if you can’t bring a nearby target into perfect focus; try looking for something a bit farther away.

If you ever look through your telescope and see faint rings of light instead of sharp dots, don’t panic! These rings are still stars, but your telescope is so out of focus that they’re blurred out. Try making large adjustments to your focus so that these rings get smaller and smaller before focusing as perfect individual dots.

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Steve Owens is a freelance science writer and presenter with a passion for astronomy. He has been the recipient of the 'Campaign for Dark Skies' Award for Dark Sky Preservation, and he was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for public science engagement.

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