Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Astronomy For Dummies: WTF is a Finderscope!?


If you've read any of my previous astronomy posts, or seen any of my tweets or Facebook updates about astronomy, chances are you've seen me talk about the finderscope. I realize that this is a vague and probably confusing term, and nothing I would have understood before I got my own telescope. So what is this finderscope, huh? Let me show you.

The finderscope is basically a tiny telescope that fits on top of a big telescope. It points the same direction as the main telescope, but because its smaller & the magnification is smaller, it can see a wider range of the sky than the main telescope and is thus good for locating (finding) your bearings in the night sky before going through the considerable trouble of adjusting the main telescope.

But the very coolest thing about the finderscope is that its stored in its own bag when the main telescope isn't in use, and it makes a very handy small telescope to just carry around with you casually on the roof:

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With finderscope on the roof, last night 

You can see a great deal with this thing.

Last night was pretty crazy; the Milky Way was out in full force in the clear sky and looking at it with the finderscope took my breath away. The funky thing is that it shows everything upside down and backwards, but once you get used to that, its not a big deal.

I feel so much peace when I am on my back, laying on the roof in the dark, exploring the universe with this little finderscope.

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