Many beginners don't realize that if your view through the eyepiece or camera is too wide or narrow that you can usually do something to change that. With Barlows and focal extenders, you can double your focal length or even more to get the best planetary views and images. With focal reducers, you can widen your field-of-view to fit that entire galaxy you were hoping to observe.
For astrophotographers, having round stars across your entire image is desirable. To help you get that, you may need to use an optical corrector. Some types of correctors include reducer/flatteners, which are most common for refractors, coma correctors for Newtonians, and field flatteners for refractors, Ritchey-Chretiéns, and other types of telescopes. If you're planning on using one of these correctors for imaging, just know that some of these are designed for specific telescopes, so be sure to check for that first. Barlows and focal extenders are usually able to be used with almost any telescope.
Swapping out your telescope's focuser is a very common upgrade for many amateur astronomers and astrophotographers. Many stock focusers suffer from slip, when the focuser cannot support the weight of your camera and accessories. You may also find that some stock focusers lack the ability to dial in focus as accurately as you need it to, especially for astrophotography. By upgrading your focuser, you can ensure that these issues become a thing of the past.
Separate from focusers themselves, automatic focusers or autofocusers are an accessory that attaches to your existing focuser and enables you to adjust focus via computer software, so you don't have to touch the telescope. In addition, they can focus automatically by finding the focus point where stars are the smallest, and adjust this over time. This can be essential for astrophotographers where temperature changes throughout the night can alter focus slightly. Last but not least, focusing masks or Bahtinov masks are a simple device that you place over the front of your telescope and they will allow you to precisely dial in perfect focus every time.
For many astronomers and astrophotographers, dew can be one of the biggest enemies. Dew usually forms on refractive elements like lenses and corrector plates, so for refractors and Schmidt-Cassegrains, having dew prevention tools is essential. There are two main ways to fend off dew from forming during the night: dew shields and dew heaters. While many refractors come with dew shields built in to the telescope, most Schmidt-Cassegrains do not. Therefore, if you plan to use a Schmidt-Cassegrain especially for astrophotography, make sure you buy a dew shield sized for your telescope. Dew shields can be thought of as passive dew prevention tools — they do not require power.
Dew heaters, on the other hand, do require external power and can be thought of as active dew prevention tools. Dew heaters will generally be better at preventing dew than dew shields will because they actively heat the refractive elements on your telescope, keeping dew away. We sell a variety of dew heaters here at OPT. Many of them require an additional dew heater controller, which allows you to set the temperature of multiple dew straps individually.
If you own a reflector or catadioptric telescope like a Newtonian, Dobsonian, Ritchey-Chretién, or Schmidt-Cassegrain, you'll need to collimate it from time to time. Collimation is the process of ensuring all of the optical components in your telescope are centered respective to each other, which improves optical performance. It can be thought of as calibrating your telescope. Just like a guitar needs to be tuned often, some telescopes like Newtonians and Dobsonians need to be collimated every time they are used.
On some telescopes, collimation can be the difference between sharp stars and stars that look misshapen, especially if you're using your telescope for astrophotography. Collimation can be difficult if you don't have the right equipment to do it. To help, we sell a wide variety of collimation tools, such as laser collimators, artificial stars, mirror adjustment knobs, and much more to let you make sure you're getting the best possible views and images from your telescope.
Without the correct power supply for your telescope setup, you can be left stranded and unable to use your gear. Some telescope mounts may not come with the right type of power supply you're hoping to use. For example, if you want to plug in your telescope gear into an outlet at home, you may need to purchase an AC adapter separately. If you need help finding the right one, our Sales team is always here to help.
Additionally, we also sell portable power supplies to help power your telescope when you're observing or imaging out in the field. These portable batteries can usually power your telescope setup for a night or two of use before needing to be recharged. Be sure to look into how much power you will be using and buy the appropriate-sized portable power supply for your needs.
Without a sturdy tripod or pier, your telescope's mount can suffer from instability, leading to shaky views and blurry images. Many amateur astronomers choose to replace or upgrade the stock tripod that came with their mount for a more rock-solid option. You can stick with a tripod or tri-pier design for portability, or for a more permanent setup, a pier can be a highly reliable option.