Viewing Moon Through A Telescope

Photo: The Moon with a 6-inch telescope

A telescope, no matter how small it is, can reveal a whole new world to you. The moon is always observable whether you are in a town or a village with even the smallest telescope and it always looks spectacular. You will also be able to see other planets of the solar system, the arm of the Milky Way, distant star clusters, nebulae, etc through your telescope. This article will guide you to get the best ways to view the moon with the details.

How to see Moon with a telescope?

Choose a lunar map

A lunar map is the best guide to finding different features of the moon through a telescope. Sky & Telescope Field Map of the Moon is the best lunar map according to the review as it provides both regular and mirror-reversed versions. Some telescopes like refractors and Cassegrains show the image left to right for which the mirror reversed versions are necessary. The map offers fine details of the moon though is folded in four to use easily while using a telescope. Besides the plastic laminating preserves it from dirt and moisture.

The best time to observe the Moon

Most people prefer the time around the full moon though it is the worst time for observation in fact. At this time sunlight falls on it directly overhead and the moon looks so bright that all the features are not discernable due to glare.

The best time for lunar observation is the two quarters when the moon is a quarter way around its orbit as the sunlight is falling from left or right. It will be a perfect half-moon with sunlight on its right half and a dark shadow on the other. Some people find it better two or three days after the first quarter. The position of the moon and the amount of light on it is the best for sorting out almost all significant features on it. The more the terminator (the line of darkness) retreats, the more the features appear with sharp details.

How to set up a telescope

Step 1: Align the Finder Scope

Daytime is the best to align the finderscope. Find any object like a tree from nearby and point the center of the field of view at the top of the object. Then adjust the dials or screws of the finderscope to center the red dot point directly on the object in the scope. 

Step 2: Correct orientation of the telescope

Find out whether your telescope gives an oriented image like an upside-down or a mirror image. You can choose the signboard or license plate of your car for this. If you know the right orientation of your telescope, you will find things easily at night time during observation.

Step 3: Find out a better location

Find out the best location for placing the telescope. Hard surfaces like tabletop or floors make the telescope wobble during observation. Firm and soft place like the flat ground on your lawn is the best for this. Make sure the sky is free from obstructions like trees and light pollution does not harm the images.

Step 4: Wait for the scope to adjust in the exterior conditions.

The air inside the house is different from the air outside depending on temperature and moisture that can produce air currents from the mist of the mirror. Give the scope at least 30 minutes to adjust the outer conditions and cool down properly. If the aperture of your telescope is more, you have to wait for a long time.

How to find the Moon

  • Point the scope towards the moon and center it in the finder.
  • Use the lowest power eyepiece with the highest focal length for closer look. For example, a 20 mm eyepiece or Barlow lens will work better in this. If you cannot find the moon then check the alignment of the finder scope.
  • After you find the moon, check your focus.

Tips to observe the Moon in the best way

  • Generally, moon filters are not necessary. But on a moonlit night, you will not get clear details due to the glare. You can use the moon filter then. Moon filters are like sunglasses for a telescope. They reduce glare and improve contrast.
  • You can zoom in for closer views in two ways. Either exchange the eyepiece with one having a lower focal length or add a Barlow.
  • You may need to adjust the telescope after a while as the moon is drifting across the field of view due to the earth’s rotation.
  • The maximum useful magnification of a telescope is 50x. But to get the best view of the moon, you can magnify up to 150x. You can have 60x magnification using a 10mm eyepiece, and 120x magnification with 2x parallel. Zoom eyepieces also work best to magnify the views by changing the focal length
  • If you want to get more lunar features, examine the terminator.

What can you see on the Moon with a telescope?

  • Mountains like The lunar Alps, the Montes Alpes, the Pyrenees, Mons Piton and Mons Pico.
  • The crater Copernicus (2-3 days past first quarter) and a ray system surrounding this that looks like a gigantic splash pattern.
  • Tycho, one of the youngest of the major lunar craters.
  • Lunar maria or seas.
  • The American flag from Apollo 16 mission (a telescope with at least 200 mm aperture is needed for this)

The best Moon phases to observe

Photo: Mare Serenitatis

  •  On day 6 after the new moon, the moon is called the Crescent moon. You will get the terminator near the Theophilus chain with a great view of Mare Serenitatis, Mare Tranquillitatis, and the chain of Cyrillus and Catharina.
  •  It appears on day 8 after the new moon. The terminator is now at the Ptolemaeus chain with Apennines, Mare Imbrium, Aristillus and Autolycus, the Alps, and the trio of Archimedes and Plato.
  •  You will get it on day 21 after the new moon with the terminator near Plato. It shows The western side of the Moon, Plato, the ray-crater Copernicus, the great crater Aristarchus with the darkest floor, etc.

What telescope to see the Moon?

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector, and Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope are great telescopes to see the Moon. A list of telescopes to see the moon has more telescope options that can see the moon very clearly.

What size telescope to see the Moon

With a 70mm telescope, you will get great views of the moon. The more the aperture, the better and sharper the views and the details. But to get the best details you should have a telescope with at least 500 mm of aperture.

What magnification is required to see the Moon

50x magnification is enough to show the whole moon. However, 150x magnification is better to see the details. The moon can tolerate high magnification more than all other objects in the night sky. It also helps to reduce glare from the moon.

Enjoying the Moon? Here are other things to see with your telescope

A telescope reveals the wonders of the deep night sky. The telescope you use to observe the moon can show you the details of other night sky objects like Mercury, Venus, asteroids, Meteor Showers, and more. If you want to observe them, you can go through the list of things to see with a telescope which provides a shortlist of several night sky objects you can observe with different telescopes.