Telescope Viewing Tips - How to do the right things and avoid the bad ones

Things you should do
  • Stay as far away from air pollution and bright city lights when viewing. Always choose elevated grounds to get you above most bright lights, air pollutions and ground fog
  • Observe on flat, clear surfaces, away from natural obstructions such as buildings or walls and away from any source of heat
  • Observe on ground. Observing on structures such as wood flooring may result in movements causing the telescope to vibrate. Pavement and concrete will also store heat, which is undesirable.
  • An unobstructed view of the southern horizon is desirable, especially if you are in the Northern Hemisphere
  • Check the weather conditions. An optimum condition will have still air, and a clear view of the sky, although that said, it’s not necessary for the sky to be cloud-free since broken cloud conditions can provide excellent viewing.
  • Observe the night’s object’s as they cross the meridian. Observing at this time reduces the bad effects of the atmosphere since objects are highest in the sky.
  • Use periodical magazines or star atlases as reference
  • Have a good selection of eyepieces and optical filters to experiment
  • Observe with both eyes open or cover one eye with your hand.

Things you shouldn't do
  • Attempt to use your telescopes in the city, unless you are only observing extremely bright objects such as planets.
  • Try to observe any object when the light path is blocked by any obstructions. This may result in air turbulence by even the slightest winds
  • Observe from a house, or worst still, an apartment block!
  • Observe through a window
  • Plan to observe during changing weather conditions since these are always turbulent
  • View immediately after sunset since the earth is still cooling, which causes sever air turbulence. That said, some of the best observing time is often during dawn.
  • Expect to randomly see interest things
  • Use anything except red light when observing. This will minimize effects to your night vision
  • Use eyepieces that give you a magnification of less than 14x the aperture in mm. At less than this magnification, the exit pupil of the eyepiece will exceed the entrance pupil of the best eyes.

This list of Do's and Don't for telescope viewing would be very helpful for amateur astronomers.