Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Eyepieces – How to Handle Them

Most permanent damage happens to an eyepiece when it falls (it is either dropped or is left unsecured in the focuser then slips out onto the ground) or when someone unknowingly puts their greasy finger on the glass elements.  Both types of accidents may be avoided.

You should hold an eyepiece securely between thumb and forefinger when carrying it from its case to the telescope.  Place your freehand under it to catch it if it falls.  Once fully inserted into the focuser, tighten up the retainer screw until it is ‘finger tight.’  Too tight will strip the threads of the retainer screw and mar the finish on your eyepieces.

Placing an old blanket or quilt under your telescope before setting up is a good backup plan for dropped eyepieces.  A light thud is a nicer sound than the sharp, tinkling sound of an eyepiece’s glass shattering.

People who may not be as familiar with your telescope as you are have a natural tendency to grab the eyepiece with their hands as they move their eye up to it.  This can easily lead to greasy fingerprints on the top glass element.  The eyepieces are coated with special anti-reflective coatings, so don’t use glass cleaner or lens cleaners to remove the smudge.  Ask someone knowledgeable at your astronomy club meeting how to clean it the right way.  You’ll be tempted to use tissues – don’t!  Kleenex and other tissues contain fibers that will scratch the glass on eyepieces.  If you feel like you have to clean your optics, there is a detailed explanation on cleaning optics located  here.

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