Getting an astronomical telescope pointed in the general direction of your target is the first step in being able to enjoy a magnified image. A laser can be used when it is properly aligned with the axis of the main telescope tube. Inexpensive lasers are available and attaching one to a telescope will help get any sky gazer started on a night of visual adventure.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Argon (green) laser pointer
- 4 plastic guitar picks
- 4 rubber bands large enough to go around the telescope tube
- Emery board
On the end of the telescope highest in the air, place two rubber bands around the telescope tube so that the two bands are next to each other. Place the other two bands about 4 inches from the first two.
File and taper the pointed end of several plastic guitar picks.The exact thickness will depend on how much adjustment will be needed when aligning the laser pointer so remove about half of the thickness of the pick to start.
Lift one rubber band in each of the two band groups and slide the laser pointer between the rubber band you just lifted and the rubber band laying on the telescope tube. The laser pointer will now rest on the two rubber bands under the pointer, held in place by two rubber bands running over the top of the pointer's body.
Align the telescope on a bright point object such as a star or distant street light and push the button on the laser pointer to activate the laser light. Slide one or more of the tapered guitar picks under the front or rear of the laser pointer to adjust the laser beam and align it with the telescope's field of view (the visible beam of laser light should point to the object centred in the telescope's field of view).
Slide a guitar pick under the front of the laser pointer to raise the laser light away from the telescope's axis of alignment. Slide a guitar pick under the rear of the laser pointer to lower the laser light toward the telescope's axis of alignment.
Tips and warnings
- Use an argon (green) laser pointer instead of the typical red laser pointer because the green laser pointer will shine a visible beam under any sky conditions where a red light requires a fairly polluted sky to show a beam.
- Never observe the sun through a telescope.
- Do not point any laser at someone's eyes, moving vehicles or windows.
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