So you’ve had a full night of observing with your new telescope and now its time to pack it in. Its getting real late and you want to head to bed. So get the kids indoors and have them start brushing their teeth and just leave the telescope on the lawn…
This is one of those posts I shouldn’t have to make, but sadly this issue does come up: What do I do with the telescope when I am not using it?
Well, thankfully this is one of those areas in amateur astronomy where there really are some hard and fast rules. Let’s break it down into some do’s and do nots for starters. Let’s start with the Do Nots first.
Do not leave your telescope outside. Even if it doesn’t rain, moisture from morning dew or fog can damage the optics – even if you put the dust caps on. Even covering the telescope will not fully protect it (although some specialized telescope covers do come close).
Do not store you telescope in a place where it gets very hot. Attics and some garages can get quite warm. This heat can cause accelerate surface damage to the First Surface Mirrors of a reflecting telescope, while heat can cause the optical glue in an Achromat lenses of a refracting telescope to weaken. Other telescope designs can also be damaged by excess heat.
Do not store telescopes where there is too much moisture – such as basements. Again, the moisture can damage the optics
Do not use your telescope as a support for other items. In
other words, do not
use it as a clothes rack. This can damage the mechanics of a telescope and the clothes being on it discourage the telescope from being used as much as it should. This should be obvious, but unfortunately in the astronomy community a telescope that doesn’t get used is often referred to as a ‘clothes rack’ in observance of people’s tendency to abuse telescopes that way.
Do not store the telescope in a way where its parts may be strained. A bent leg on a telescope is an expensive repair! A bent tube pretty much ruins the telescope. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.
Do neglect the accessories. They are very important to the telescope. Don’t do to them anything you shouldn’t do to your telescope.
Bring your telescope inside and store it in a cool, dry place.
Put all the dust caps and covers back in place. Don’t let any dust in while it is not being used.
Put all of your accessories, such as eyepieces, back into any containers they came in. This will keep dust and moisture off of them.
If you plan to not use your telescope for a while, consider covering it with something like a sheet to protect it from dust even better. Don’t let having that sheet over it discourage you from using the telescope, however.
If you have no room to store your telescope, consider dismantling it and storing it in its packing box.
When considering a new telescope, think carefully about where you will put it
when it is not in use! Consider the deign of the telescope when assembled and how much room it might take up! A fully extended tripod can take up a lot of floor space, while a Dob can take up just a handful of square footage.
Most of these things are just basic common sense. Sadly, as the saying goes ‘common sense isn’t very common’. We’ve seen many telescopes damaged or destroyed by improper storage. But we’ve also known telescope that when cared for can last a lifetime!