For a beginner astronomer, buying a telescope can be a lifelong dream. But after you’ve bought one you might not be seeing what you wish to see.
You could find crosshair-like figures in your images. But there must be a reason behind that.
So why do I see crosshairs in my telescope?
Crosshairs are mainly the structure holding the secondary mirror in place. These are particularly called spider vanes. If your telescope is out of focus then you could see the crosshair-like structures in your views. Also not collimating your telescope could result in fault in reflecting the image.
Now you have an idea of how things work. But I’m sure you want to know more about this topic.
Follow along with a detailed article to get detailed explanations of your desired topics.
What Are The Crosshairs Actually?
Telescopes are sensitive equipment. There has to be a few processing needed before starting to see amazing views.
But sometimes you could face problems seeing crosshairs in your telescope.
You could be seeing a star-shaped mark or a black dot in a telescope. These types of figures are generally called crosshairs.
There are several reasons why you might be seeing them. Sometimes they should be seen and sometimes they are indications of a problem.
Let’s check out what’s the case with your telescope.
Is Seeing Crosshairs Always A Problem?
Crosshairs are used everywhere to locate or pinpoint any object in view. It helps you center anything with your vision.
Sometimes, you might want to keep your telescope pointed at a certain point. To keep track of the object, or to take long exposure images.
In this sort of case, a crosshair will come in handy. Many people make makeshift crosshairs using wires or thinly sliced paper or strings.
You can also find reticle eyepiece telescopes. More advanced ones have illuminated red dot eyepieces. Where the central red dot works as a crosshair.
These telescopes with crosshairs are generally called finderscopes. They are mainly used to track things in the sky.
Why Could You See Crosshairs?
Now, if you didn’t buy a telescope with crosshairs, why can you see them?
That might have something to do with spider vanes.
Spider vanes are plastic structures that hold your secondary mirror in place.
Dobsonian telescopes or most commonly reflector telescopes. They have a big mirror at the very first of the telescope. And a smaller secondary mirror held into the telescope with a cross-type plastic structure.
The secondary mirror helps the light reflect from the primary mirror. If the mirror is out of focus then you can see the spider vanes in your telescope.
So you could see the spider vanes and they could seem like crosshairs in your telescopes.
Also if your telescope is new, it might not be collimated.So, how to tell if a telescope needs collimation?
That can also be the cause behind seeing crosshairs in a telescope.
Now, what is collimation in a telescope?
Collimation is the process where you align both your primary and secondary mirrors. When they are aligned, they reflect light perfectly.
New telescopes are often not collimated. So you can’t focus on using it very much. That will cause you to see crosshairs.
How Can You Solve This?
There are a few general solutions to these problems that you can try out. They should be able to solve your problem right away.
Focusing is the main solution behind this problem. How to focus a telescope?
You’ll find a knob beside your telescope that you can turn to focus your telescope with.
You should start with attaching your lowest power eyepiece first. Because it is easier to focus with the low-powered magnifications.
Look at the numbers with your eyepieces. The one with the biggest number has the lowest power.
You can try to focus on the daytime. You can focus on a faraway tree or a street sign. And try to make it clear by rotating the knob.
But during the daytime be sure to point away from the sun. Because viewing the sun through a telescope without proper filters is dangerous. It can permanently burn your eyes within seconds.
To observe the sun, there are sunspotter solar telescopes available. You might want to try them out to check out the sun.
At night you can also do it. You have to select a star and point your telescope at it.
In perfect focus, a star looks like a pinpoint in the sky. Rotate the knob so that the blur circle turns into a pinpoint.
As you rotate the knob, the circle gets smaller and smaller. And after you pass the focusing point the circle again starts to be bigger.
So you have to be careful not to pass the perfect threshold for focusing.
Collimation is a bit tricky. Most of the time your telescope will not be perfectly collimated out of the box.
But to see great pictures you don’t necessarily have to collimate your telescope perfectly. Some people use their telescope for a lifetime and don’t even notice.
But to get the best out of your telescope it is ideal to collimate your telescope accordingly.
It is near impossible to collimate your telescope perfectly using your hands. So near perfect will be just fine and you no longer will see crosshairs.
This complexity is what separates this instrument from astronomy vs. birdwatching binoculars.
But if you want to do perfect collimation you can get a laser collimator for telescope. Also, you can take your telescope to an expert to collimate it.
This is a pretty rookie and simple mistake to make. But not installing an eyepiece could give you the view of crosshairs in your telescope.
If you do not use an eyepiece, you will just see the reflected image of the sky from your secondary mirror.
The reflection of a distant object could seem like a crosshair. So remember to use suitable eyepieces for your telescope of correct magnification.
Here’s our recommendation for some of the best eyepieces out there.
Looking From The Right Distance
This is a factor that can contribute to the problem as well.
You could be short-sighted or you might have the tendency to look too closely with the telescope.
If you take the eyepiece too close to your eyes, the focused light will not place perfectly in your eyes. That could cause you to see crosshair-like figures.
And using very small eyepieces also highlights the dirt floating in your eyes, and that can seem like a crosshair to you. So how to look through a telescope?
So, while viewing, make sure to not push your eyes too close to the eyepiece. Look from a distance that is comfortable for your eyes.
Clean your eyepiece and mirror regularly to get the best results.
That is how you can figure out why you are seeing a crosshair through your telescope. As well as some general ways to solve it. Hope it helps you in your stargazing journey
Is An Equatorial Mount Must For Astrophotography?
Yes, if you want to take long exposure photos of the celestial bodies, an equatorial mount is essential. Equatorial mounts have gears to compensate for the earth’s rotation. So it can move horizontally and vertically automatically to take steady photos compensating for the earth’s rotation.
Is Refractor Telescope Better For Astrophotography?
Yes, if you wish to take great photos of deep space objects, then a refractor telescope is better. Because its optical arrangement is better for capturing deep space objects. But if you’re more interested in the bodies in our solar system, then reflector telescopes are a better choice for you.
Is A Finderscope Essential For Stargazing?
No, a finderscope isn’t essential for stargazing. But it certainly helps. Finderscope is an additional attachment that can be attached with your eyepiece. This gives you a larger field of view so that you can find your celestial bodies easily and then focus using an eyepiece. This is a very handy tool for beginner stargazers but if you are experienced you don’t need its help.
As a beginner astronomer, after buying your first telescope this can be genuine confusion. But hopefully, now you know why do I see crosshairs in my telescope.
The explanations are simple and hopefully, your stargazing routine will become simple as well.
So get out there and capture all you can. Until then best of luck!