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So the telescope has been sitting in the garage for a year now

I found a craigslist ad that was selling a beautiful telescope. It was a six inch refractor. The ad said that it was used only a couple of times and interest was lost in it. It wasn't what the family had expected.


It happens often

I think that this scenario happens often and for a couple of different reasons. We have this expectation of what space looks like. And we all know what the planets really look like. For example here is a picture of Jupiter taken by the Hubble:



Breathtakingly beautiful isn't it? We all know what Jupiter looks like. And this is what we have come to expect.


When somebody gets a telescope and takes it out into the backyard. And if they are persistent enough to actually find Jupiter this is what they most likely will see:

Small Jupiter

If they spent more than a thousand dollars on the telescope and they live in a very dark part of the country they might see something like this:

Medium sized Jupiter

And this all assumes you actually found Jupiter. You may have had to figure your way through a star chart like this:

A star chart


So what is the conclusion that we can draw from all of that?

That question is actually very easy to answer.

First off you should try to adjust your expectations. Excitement about your telescope has probably had you looking up lots of beautiful stuff on the NASA site and on the Hubble site. Wow! Amazing stuff. But realize your experience will be different. It will be dark out! It might be chilly. And things are going to be smaller, and a lot slower. You can't just click from planet to planet. Try to make it more of a treasure hunt. It is about the finding of things. Not so much about the astonishing and magnificent images! Even though, in my opinion any view through a telescope is magnificent and astonishing :)

Secondly - You should do pre-work. And if you have children that are going to be involved with the telescope you should get them involved in the pre work.

Get yourself a couple of books. Do some online research and get yourself some star charts. Spend sometime reading your materials and enjoy the process. And spend time with the star charts. Be of the mind set that you will be on a treasure hunt. Finding the various objects is your objective. If you can find something on your to-do list then the night out with the telescope is a success.

Try my book. I specifically wrote it to help you enjoy your small telescope.


See It with a Small Telescope: 101 Cosmic Wonders Including Planets, Moons, Comets, Galaxies, Nebulae, Star Clusters and More - Available in paperback and kindle on Amazon right here