MAS Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about astronomy (see also MAS Beginners page)
This page answers many commonly asked questions about astronomy. If you have a question on a subject any not covered here, please help support this page by using our on-line enquiry form (requires Java Script to be enabled).
Much of the material here has been taken from topics presented at out monthly meetings. If any member has subject they would like to present for 15-20 miniutes as a 'second half' topic, please contact the Meetings Secretary (to contribute directly to this page, please contact the Webmaster
(+) 0001 How do I find a local Astronomical Society ?
(+) 0002 How is Star brightness measured ?
(+) 0003 What are the Constellations ?
(+) 0004 What is the shape of the Earth ?
(+) 0005 What equipment do I need to start astronomy ?
(+) 0007 What telescope should I buy ?
(+) 0008 How much Magnification can I get ?
(+) 0013 What are Equatorial and Alt Az mounts ?
(-) 0100 How do I use my first telescope ?
The instructions that come with a telescope are often not as clear as one might hope ! Half an hour with someone who knows the 'routine' will probably save you hours/days of frustration. So don't worry it will all work out in the end. Then you will be able to follow the Moon, locate Saturn or find some of the wonderful clusters of stars in the night sky.
To 'track' the stars the main axis of an EQ mount must be correctly aligned (angled up 52 degrees and pointed North)
Most EQ mounts come with adjustable counter-weights. It's important to 'balance' the telescope on the mount before turning on the motors (an unbalanced mount will put excessive strain on the gear-train and may not move at all !).
A common oversight is to skip the finder alignment step (which can make it very hard to find the object in the main scope eyepiece :-) )
Practice setting up in daylight before using it at night, always start with a low magnification eyepiece and 'aim' at something that can't be missed (such as the Moon) which will reveal any 'alignment' problems quickly !
This note last modified: 5th Feb 2015 22:05.
(+) 0109 What is a finder ?
(+) 0110 What is an eyepiece ?
(+) 0111 What is a Barlow ?
(+) 0112 What is a focal reducer ?
(+) 0114 What are Nebular filters ?
(+) 0116 How do I use Setting Circles ?
(+) 0120 What is collimation ?
(+) 0125 How can I safely observe the Sun ?
(+) 1030 How can I take photos of the stars ?
(+) 1033 How to take photos of the Aurora ? - (Northern Lights)
(+) 1035 How to calculate FOV for prime focus ?
(+) 1036 How do I calculate FOV for Eyepiece projection ?
(+) 1037 How do I use a Raspberry Pi camera for astrophotography ?
(+) 1038 What is Star trailing ?
(+) 1039 How can I take photos of Meteors ?
(+) 2100 What is Universal Time (UTC) ?
(+) 2114 What are AUs Parsecs and Light Years ?
(+) 2115 What is Bodes Law ?
(+) 3010 When was Neptune discovered ?
(+) 4000 How do I update Stellarium with new Comet data ?
(+) 5000 How To build the MAS (Raspberry Pi) photoframe ?