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space objects, a larger aperture is important,”
says Berendsen. He adds that popular acces-
sories include computerized motor drives,
GPS units, extra eyepieces and filters for sun
and moon viewing.
Aside from purchasing the right tele-
scope for your purposes, you’re also going to
need to learn how to use it and where to point
it. Be prepared to carefully read the instruc-
tion manual and assemble and test all of the
components before your first outing.
Additionally, become familiar with viewing the night sky with your naked eyes and a
pair of binoculars (always a handy accessory).
Know what to look for and when by reading
beginner books on astronomy and visiting
sites like stellarium.org and worldwidetele
scope.org. You can also download useful
mobile apps such as Star Walk, Sky Map, Star
Chart and COSMOS Celestron Navigator.
The Costco Connection
Costco.com carries a variety of telescopes,
including dual-purpose and computerized
models, as well as binoculars.
The right time, place and space
The ideal conditions for stargazing call
for clear, dark skies, preferably in higher altitudes and away from the light pollution cast
in densely populated areas.
Many prefer viewing between June and
September, when the air is warm and the
Milky Way’s nebulae and clusters are higher
in the sky.
Others, like Levent Gurdemir, director of
The Planetarium at the University of Texas at
Arlington, favor winter months. “This is
when brighter stars and constellations, such
as Orion, are visible in the night sky and lower
humidity makes astronomical observations
more enjoyable and better in quality,” says
Gurdemir, a Costco member.
Thomas Hamilton, a retired professor of
astronomy on Staten Island, New York, on the
other hand, says the best conditions “are
when it’s not too hot or too cold. October has
the clearest sky and temperatures that are
usually acceptable.” C
Erik J. Martin is a Chicago-area freelance
writer and blogger.
cheaper altazimuth mount, which simply
swings left, right, down and up.
Fine-tuning your focus
The best telescope is the one you will use
most often, says Andrea Tabor Worshill,
assistant marketing manager for Celestron,
the Torrance, California–based manufacturer
of telescopes carried by Costco.
“Don’t buy a heavy, bulky or complicated
telescope that you won’t want to drag out and
use on a nightly basis. Choose something
compact and user-friendly to grow into the
hobby quicker,” Worshill says.
Berendsen cautions not to expect a
cheaper device to provide Hubble Space
Telescope image quality.
“If you only want to look at the moon
and planets, you don’t need a larger-aperture
telescope, but if you want views of deep-
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