South Downs Planetarium
& Science Centre
The Place for Space

Half Day Course

How to Choose & Use A Telescope.

Saturday 16th May 2020 1.00pm

Course fee: £18 per person.

Limited to 25 places.

This is an extremely popular course. Please book early to ensure a place.

If you are thinking of getting or gifting a Telescope, this course is a must to save money and disappointment.

Online Booking Only


John Mason MBE demonstrating telescope parts
John Mason MBE demonstrating telescope parts


Looking to purchase a telescope but not sure where to begin?

Already own a telescope but not sure how to use it?

Come to the Planetarium for a friendly, informative afternoon under the expert guidance of Dr John Mason, where you will find out everything you need to know about choosing and using your own telescope.

Using a telescope to view the night sky is a real joy. The rings of Saturn, the cloud belts of Jupiter, distant nebulae, star clusters, and even some galaxies, are all within the grasp of a small telescope, but what to buy? In this half-day course, for people with little or no experience of observing the night sky, we help you to choose an instrument that suits you.

When you’ve acquired your new telescope how do you set it up to enjoy the wonders of the night sky? We’ll provide you with the answer to this question, and show you how to go about locating celestial objects. We’ll also suggest some target objects to suit your particular type of telescope Since this is a ‘hands on’ course, please feel free to bring your own telescope along on the day.

Tutor: Dr John Mason MBE


1.00-1.30 pm
1.30-1.45 pm
The purpose of the half-day course and what we intend to cover.
1.45-2.10 pm
TYPES OF TELESCOPE – HOW THEY WORK Refractors, reflectors and compound telescopes. How they collect and focus light. The relative importance of light grasp and magnification.
2.10-2.35 pm
TELESCOPE MOUNTS – SETTING UP AND HOW TO USE THEM Types of telescope mounts. How to put your telescope together, where to site it for observing and how to line up the mounting.
2.35-3.00 pm
EYEPIECES, FINDERS & ACCESSORIES Importance of eyepieces. Choosing and using eyepieces. Correct use of magnification. Fitting, aligning and using finderscopes.
3.00-3.30 pm
FINDING OBJECTS IN THE SKY – PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS We go into the Planetarium dome to learn how to find your way round the night sky, how to locate objects in the telescope viewfinder and the eyepiece, and using a drive to compensate for the Earth’s rotation.
3.30-4.20 pm
TEA/COFFEE BREAK and WORKSHOP SESSION to focus on key issues requiring solution. Discussions with our telescope experts to focus on the key issues and problems that people want to solve, then working together to solve as many of these problems as we can in the time available.
4.20-4.30 pm
REVIEW OF COURSE Any key issues brought up in the group workshop session. What has been useful from this course, and what are the next steps for all of the delegates.
4.30 pm CLOSE
Online Booking Only


To ensure that you have the best possible experience, please inform us in advance about any disability needs for assistance or special requirements. More about Accessibility here

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