Like many astronomers, I’m afraid I have more than one telescope. My favourite, and the one I use most frequently, is a Skywatcher ‘Skyliner’ 10-inch Dobsonian reflecting telescope, which I call ‘Big Ron’. It’s essentially a big tube with a large mirror at the bottom, which captures light from the night sky, focuses it and directs it to the eyepiece. The mirror is ten inches in diameter, which allows the telescope to collect a fair amount of light, so that I can see very faint objects that are invisible to the naked eye.
This is ‘Big Ron’:
The little telescope on the top is a ‘finderscope’, which helps me to find the things I’m looking for, as it allows me to see a larger area of the sky. The mount that the tube is on is known as a ‘Dobsonian’ mount, as it was popularised by a man named John Dobson. It allows me to swing the telescope up and down and left to right, so that I can point it wherever I want.
My second-favourite telescope is a Skywatcher Heritage 130P, which is a much smaller Dobsonian telescope with a mirror just over five inches in diameter. It’s on a small ‘tabletop’ mount and has a tube that slides into itself, so that it can be packed down quite small. This makes it really easy to fit into the car when we go away on holiday.
For obvious reasons, I call this telescope ‘Little Ron’. Here it is:
Whenever anyone asks me what telescope they should get, I usually recommend this one. Because it is, quite frankly, absolutely perfect in pretty much every way.
My very first telescope, though, which I don’t seem to be able to bring myself to give away even though I hardly ever use it and it takes up a whole corner of my office at home, is a Skywatcher ‘Skyhawk’ 1145P Newtonian reflecting telescope on an equatorial mount. It’s a great little telescope and, while an equatorial mount can be tricky to get to grips with, once you know how it works it’s actually a real delight to use.
Here it is:
The little thing on top is a ‘red dot finder’, which projects a tiny red laser onto a transparent foil and allows me to align the telescope with whatever I want to look at. ‘Little Ron’ has one, too, and they’re really great. Unless you can’t see whatever you want to look at with the naked eye, in which case they’re a little less useful.
Read more > My observing activities