How to collimate a telescope – Quick Guide

A collimation cap is also known as a sight tube and is basically like a cap that you put on the focuser of your reflecting telescope. A collimation cap is also known as a sight tube and is basically like a plug that you put on the focuser of your well priced reflecting telescope. I recommend that you mark it with a piece of electrician’s tape.

Described in the December 2001 issue of Sky & Telescope, Gary Seronik’s 8-inch travelscope features several innovations, including a wooden secondary mirror mount that allows you to easily adjust the collimation of the secondary mirror by hand, without the small, hard-to-handle screws common with commercial units.

How to collimate a telescope

The good news is that collimating a telescope is actually not that difficult, and it can be done without much hassle. It will take a lot longer to collimate certain types of telescopes too – for example, a Dobsonian can take 30 minutes or more to collimate properly.

You can simply read the step-by-step instructions on your mobile device or print them out to keep next to the telescope for when you need collimation. You will have inadvertently caused a collimation error large enough to affect the performance of a short focal length telescope.

As long as it is smaller than your diagonal mirror, it will not affect the performance of your telescope. Even if you have a reflecting telescope that needs to be collimated regularly, it can be done simply and effectively without a hassle – and without a lot of tools.

Collimation is a strange word that simply means aligning the mirrors of your telescope so that the light they collect is perfectly focused. Telescope collimation doesn’t have to be something overwhelming that puts a black cloud over your excitement of using your telescope.

Telescope collimation doesn’t have to be something overwhelming that puts a black cloud over your excitement of using your telescope. If you have a reflecting telescope, which makes use of two mirrors in its design instead of lenses, then you can try this quick way to collimate it.

With this in mind, let’s explore How to collimate your telescope so that you can get back out there and search for stars successfully. Another method is to use an adhesive binder reinforcement ring, the kind used by generations of school children to keep their homework from flying out of their 3-ring binders.

With this in mind, let’s explore how to collimate your telescope so you can get back out there and successfully search for stars. If you plan to use a laser collimator, drill a hole in the center of your spot.

To make collimation easier, the center of the mirror should be marked in some way. I insert a piece of cardboard or colored paper behind the secondary, which allows my eyes to more easily detect if the secondary appears as a circle and is centered in the dark circle created by the edge of the focuser.

This will create a view of the secondary as a simple white circle. The collimating cap (also called a sight tube) is the simplest way to align the optics in a telescope.

It is good to know which is which and familiarize yourself with the design of your telescope at the beginning of the piece to avoid confusion and possible mistakes when trying to collimate. A simple solution is to use a piece of card or white paper to block the reflections from the primary mirrors.

Simply insert a piece of white paper into the telescope tube between the secondary and primary mirrors. Don’t make it too small – a ½ inch diameter spot (or even a little larger) works well.

Telescope collimation

If your telescope is not properly collimated, it will be impossible to focus properly, regardless of sky conditions. Learning that it is necessary to collimate the mirrors of a reflecting telescope may come as a shock if you have never owned one before.

All reflecting telescopes, whether Newtonian or Dobsonian, work by collecting light with a primary mirror at one end of the telescope tube. I have used two different laser collimators, made some modifications using special paper and caps, and even used my eyes to try to get it right.

Note that this is NOT a complete tutorial for fully collimating your telescope, because collimation methods vary depending on the type of telescope you have. Ideally, this step should be done with the telescope placed on a flat surface so that you don’t drop the hex key down the tube and onto the primary.

However, this will give you an idea of how to get some quick results in the field if you are really annoyed with your focus. Often, an artificial star is easier to use because it doesn’t suffer from the atmospheric effects seen in the example images.

To collimate your telescope with a collimation cap, you will first have to put it on the focuser and look at the primary and secondary mirrors. If that happens, all you have to do is a few very small tweaks to the adjustment screws to finish the collimation.

Without getting into the crazy but cool physics and math of it, collimation is simply the physical alignment of your telescope’s optics. You can master it, and in just a minute or two you’ll have your instrument ready for a stellar performance.

Once your reflecting telescope has cooled and is properly collimated, it should be ready to perform at its best. To check the collimation of your telescope use a star, either real or artificial, like this one. If you have left it for a long time, or have never done it before, it will probably take a little longer to set it up.

This procedure should be done at the beginning of each observing session and checked occasionally during the night, as temperature changes or routine handling can cause the components of your reflecting telescope to shift enough to change the collimation.

When tightening the locking screws, you may find that the laser moves off the center of the target. Its accuracy is so high that it comes off in the car, the optical axis will have a small deflection, and sometimes it will collapse completely. This secondary mirror deflects the light rays by 90° by sending them into an eyepiece mounted on the side of the telescope, shown as a red line and cross, above. You may have heard that it is incomprehensible, tedious, time-consuming, a pain in the ass, and best avoided.

Your Newtonian reflector will give you superb images of stars and planets, but only if you keep it finely tuned. There are different ways to collimate your telescope, so let’s look at some popular methods. Although the tools usually get you pretty close, and sometimes, if you’re lucky and good, almost perfect, that’s usually the end of it.

However, depending on how your telescope is constructed, you may need a great deal of skill or a partner (especially if your telescope is large) to manipulate your optics; collimation adjustments are much easier to make with some tools than others.

Repeat the above steps until you are able to move the diffraction pattern predictably and get the circles as concentric as possible. One of the most frequently attributed disadvantages of the Newtonian reflecting telescope is its need for regular collimation (also known as alignment).

The best way to make progress is to make small adjustments, pausing to check where you are, before making the next turn. Although blurred images are sometimes an indication that something is “wrong” with your telescope, there is a test you can do to find out if your telescope needs to be collimated.

The primary mirror reflects and focuses light onto the secondary mirror, which is mounted near the telescope aperture and shows up as the small blue rectangle to the left of the image. Note that some telescopes, such as reflectors, will need to be collimated each time you want to mount them, for example, if they have been moved from their stargazing location to another.

Collimation is the process of aligning all the components of a telescope so that the light is in the best possible focus. You will have inadvertently caused a bad collimation large enough to affect the performance of a short focal length telescope.

what is collimation

The top panel shows a situation where a collimator is not used, while the bottom panel introduces a collimator. Without a collimator, rays from all directions will be recorded; for example, a ray that has passed through the top of the sample (on the right of the diagram) but happens to travel in a downward direction may be recorded at the bottom of the plate. I spent almost half the day adjusting the collimation line on the telescopic sight of my theodolite. On the level, the eyepiece and the object glass are interchangeable, to make it easier to adjust the collimation.

A beam of light or other collimated electromagnetic radiation has parallel rays, and therefore will spread minimally as it propagates. Meanings Learn to write The collimation error was found by inverting the instrument and using a terrestrial mark, the azimuth error by star observations. Narrowing can mean either making the directions of motion align more in a specific direction (i.e., you have successfully collimated your primary mirror when you have moved the laser spot in the center of the target.

Many amateurs I know who have reflectors think a Cheshire is the best way to get proper collimation. If they seem to be out of sync, then you will need to proceed with the following steps to fix the collimation problem. So, the collimation line of the telescope was placed at right angles to the mirror surface. The secondary collimator consists of two clamps that can be moved to enlarge or minimize the size of the treatment field.

The secondary collimator is placed after a flattening filter (for photon therapy) or a scattering foil (for electron therapy). The collimation cap (also called a scope tube) is the simplest way to align the optics in a telescope. Once you master collimation with a simple collimation cap, move on to a Cheshire eyepiece if you wish.

collimating a newtonian telescope

When adjusting your telescope keep this in mind and try not to become obsessed with having every element exactly perfect. Even if the primary mirror is exactly collimated (its center is aligned with the center of the eyepiece), the return laser beam will be parallel to the axis of the main mirror but will miss the center of the laser faceplate by 2 mm. My own collimation through a Cheshire is always a bit “off” – star tests confirm that the scope is perfect, so bear that in mind. The collimation cap (aka scope tube) is the simplest way to align the optics on a telescope.

In fact, strictly speaking, the secondary doesn’t really influence collimation, its position only affects the illumination of the focal plane. As in the previous step, it is best to have the telescope in a horizontal position during this step, in case you drop an Allen key in the tube. Ideally the Airey disc should be perfectly formed on both sides of perfect focus (extrafocus and intrafocus), but in reality most telescopes don’t do this perfectly due to slack in the focusing mechanism or atmospheric turbulence, but you should see an Airey disc on at least one side of the perfect focus position. In a Newtonian it depends on the relationship between the focal length of the telescope and the diameter of its main mirror.

If you know your main mirror point is right (and in most cases it will be, if it is carefully centered), there is no need to routinely adjust your collimation with a star test the Cheshire eyepiece is not only easier to use, it is more accurate if the seeing is less than ideal, which is most nights. If you have a truss tube telescope, you will need to repeat step 2 each time you remount the telescope. If this is the case for the center point of your mirror, ignore it for now and try adjusting the collimation of the primary, in small steps, until you have centered the best image in the field of view. These differences are shown with a diagram and an actual photograph of a quick telescope collimation view to give you an idea of what the final view through the Cheshire should look like.

When all three clamps are in view (and some scopes may have more clamps) and are shown on the edge of the secondary mirror with equal space around them, this part of the collimation process is complete.