The Importance of Collimation – Part 1

What exactly is collimation and why does your telescope need it?

Imagine you are a piano player and you are about to perform at the Sydney Opera House. But you were running late and haven’t had time to tune the piano before the concert. You get up on stage in front of thousands of people and you play the keys like an artist but all the piano does is make an awful untuned noise.

Same thing happens if you go out with your telescope and you do not tune up the telescope….. in other words collimate the optics of the telescope….. then you are running the risk of not getting  a good performance from the telescope.

This happened to me a few months ago….. I was demonstrating my telescope to a member of the family and rushing to setup the telescope and focus it in on the moon. I was rushing because a huge bank of clouds was rolling in and I probably had 5 minutes of viewing time before the sky was overcast. I had the scope setup in record time, lined up the moon in the finder…… but when I lined up the moon in the eye piece, the image was blurred and fuzzy and looked nothing like the Moon. I then discovered the mirrors were mis-aligned and by that stage the clouds were over head.

So to get the best out of your telescope, collimation is something you need to know about.

Before and After collimation (Click For Larger Picture)

Before and After collimation (Click For Larger Picture)

The picture here gives an example of what happens if you look at Saturn with an un-collimated telescope…. as shown on the image on the left. Fuzzy and blurry.

The image of Saturn on the right is after the telescope is collimated and is obviously the much better image.

If you want to see deep sky objects, you will defintely need to have your telescope finely tuned or you have no chance of seeing anything but a blur.

~ by sydneystargazers on October 9, 2009.

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