Telescope Disassembly

That is all there is to indoor checkout. You will be hauling your beautiful new CAT out under the stars for first light as soon as night comes—if the "new scope curse" does not intervene, that is. Amateur astronomers have long observed that receiving a new telescope seems to cause clouds to instantly cover the sky. Sounds like superstition, but that is usually what happens.

Unless the CAT in question is a small one, disassemble it so it can be safely and easily moved into the backyard. Begin by shutting off the power. Disconnect the power cord from the battery or wall socket and then from the telescope. Unplug the HC and put it in a safe place. Remove the eyepiece, star diagonal, and visual back; cap the rear port and stow the ocular and diagonal with the HC (the eyepiece and star diagonal could be left in place, but it is all too easy to bang them into something on the way outside). Protect the corrector plate by replacing its cover if that is still off. Fork-mount telescopes should be positioned so the tube is pointing at the base for transport. When the tube is situated appropriately, undo the bolts on a Celestron and the spreader knob and threaded rod on a Meade (holding onto the scope with one hand if possible) and gently lift the OTA and fork off the tripod. Set the scope on its base somewhere where it will not be knocked over or return it to its case or shipping box. Leave the tripod assembled but loosen the spreader enough so the legs can be collapsed to get it through doors easily.

Let us digress for a moment and talk about the vital accessories CAT users need. You didn't think your astromnomy buying was over with just the purchase of a telescope, did you? It is not, not hardly. There is quite a bit more astrostuff that will need to be acquired before a novice astronomer can do productive observing—or, indeed, much observing at all.


Before much real "work" can be done with a new Schmidt Cassegrain telescope, more accessories will be needed than just the paltry few that came in the box with the telescope. This has become especially true over the last decade. The world's two SCT makers, Meade and Celestron, locked in a perpetual battle for the same few customers, have had to cut fat to keep telescope prices low and competitive as production costs have risen. They have done that by eliminating accessories much beyond a finder, a star diagonal, and a single eyepiece of sometimes indifferent quality. At a minimum, a new catadioptric telescope (CAT) owner is going to require at least a couple of good eyepieces, a dew shield, and a case in which to store and transport the telescope.

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