Passionate about telescopes or just beginning your journey into astronomy?
The Telescope Nerd website is all about telescopes and astronomy and all about helping you discover and enjoy this ancient and most fascinating art and science.
“O, telescope, instrument of much knowledge, more precious than any sceptre! Is not he who holds thee in his hand made king and lord of the works of God? “ – Johann Kepler
Be sure to check out the astro-cartoon of the month right here.
And this month is a special one in tribute to Halloween!
The Telescope Nerd’s book is now available on Amazon.com –
Writing this book has been a wonderful experience for me. I truly love telescopes and astronomy. Well…. you probably could have figured that out seeing as I have a website all about these things! But this book is quite wonderful and I am very proud of it. If you have a small telescope or are thinking about getting one then check it out. In it I have chapters on using a small telescopes, stars, planets, how to take pictures with your telescope and of course a list with star charts of 101 objects to you can observe. Learn more and order it here.
Get a review copy! Do you have a telescope/astronomy or Science related website?
Would you like a free copy of my book for review? I have a press kit and more information here.
The Nerd visits a mecca of astronomy in Arizona. It is the weekend long All Arizona Star Party. It is 100 miles west of Phoenix and it has some terrific dark skies. The All Arizona Star party – includes information about the event and pictures that the nerd took of the sky.
New Tutorial: How to take pictures of the moon with a digital camera and a cheap piece of equipment called a t-ring adapter.
New Tutorial: How to easily take Milky Way photos with a digital camera. I show you exactly what to do and what to set your camera at so you easily take perfect Milky Way photos. (No telescope or fancy lens needed)
The 2019 Grand Canyon Star Party – Every year the Grand canyon has a week long event for star gazers. This one was great. It is estimated to have drawn about 10,000 visitors. And, they have astrophotography workshops. I learned how to get some great Milky Way Photos. You can see the photos and read about the Grand Canyon star party here.
I also have lots of pictures of the telescopes that were there right here.
New article: Is that a meteor or an airplane in your night sky photo? It is usually pretty easy to tell the difference. The Nerd shows you a photograph he took that has both a meteor and an airplane.
Free handout for astronomy clubs and classrooms. “Eleven Tips for Star Gazing Beginners” – Feel free to download it and print it up to give out at events and club meetings. You can also customize it by adding your club name and logo. Or I can do that for you. Just email me. This handout is right here (pdf)
What are the biggest telescopes in the world? I run down the biggest currently in service and we take a look at some absolute behemoths that are currently being built!
What is the single biggest telescope in the world? We take a look at the biggest, and we also look at a few more including one being built that is an absolute behemoth!
The Telescope Nerd Visits McDonald Observatory in Texas. It is the home to one of the largest telescopes in the world. Check it out. It’s a great place and it includes workshops, star parties, a gift shop and a cafeteria.
The Nerd visits one of the biggest astronomy stores in America! Well, I don’t know if that’s true but it is really big! It is Stellarvision in Tucson Arizona
NEW PROJECT: Make a constellation projector. This is a nice little projector project that is easy to make and doesn’t require any lenses – just a few basic supplies. And it uses 3×5 cards so you can make a lot of constellations. I give you, in the template, everything you need including 12 constellations already done.
PROJECT: Make Constellation Cups to project stars and constellations onto a wall. It is an easy and fun project that needs just a few simple supplies. And it is so much fun. Also can be a learning tool to learn to recognize constellations. Make Constellation Cups Here
How to Make a Solar System Diorama. This is a fun little project that uses styrofoam balls. I show you how to do it and how to paint the planets. Perfect project to impress at school.
Newly Published – Building Binoscopes by Norman Butler
A simple easy to understand guide and instructions with many interesting and unique designs and illustrations for building a simple 10-inch f/5 open truss Newtonian binocular telescope Read more about it here
New: Will visits the Corning Museum of Glass – The corning company has a long history making glass for refractor and reflector telescopes. They have the broken blank for the 200 inch Palomar telescope right in their museum. Glass and Telescopes and the Corning Musuem of Glass
The Telescope Nerd visits Mount Palomar Observatory in California. This is where the famous 200 inch Hale telescope is. And it’s on the top of a mountain. Mount Palomar Observatory
New : Will’s book has been reviewed on Sciloo.com -Sciloo Learning Technologies is a media company that focuses on science. They have a great website and they have reviewed my new telescope book. Check out the review on their website here: See it With a Small Telescope Review
Will had a guest appearance on the famous Dr. Sky radio program to talk about his new book. If you like radio and you like telescopes you can listen to it here. And learn more about the book and what’s in it!
New Video: The Ultimate Small Telescope Guide– In this video I teach you everything you need to know to successfully get the most out of a small telescope. I cover the equatorial mount, how it works, the optical tube assembly and all those parts that come with a small telescope. Check out the video right here.
The Telescope Nerd’s Guide to buying a telescope on Amazon.
THere are thousands of telescopes on amazon. Which ones are the better choice? I dispel the confusion and give you some great advice including specific telescopes. Will’s Guide to Buying a Telescope on Amazon
APO, ED, Apochromatic … Are you confused by the various types of lenses in refractor telescopes? They perform differently. Some are better than others, and of course are more expensive. I have an easy explanation of the different types of telescope lenses here
We are losing the night sky – Light pollution, and regular pollution are getting worse. Read my article about this problem and what you should do.
Easy and Functional telescope mount:
“A Cabinet Mount Telescope”
It has some neat features and it is easy to build. I have a complete tutorial on how to make this 8″ telescope and mount. Learn more about it here: Make a Cabinet Mount Telescope.
Free Astronomy audio books from Libribox
Enjoy audio books? I have perused the audiovox library and found their telescope and astronomy books. They are totally free and I have them for download right here.
A visit to Meteor Crater – The crater is a mile wide and the result of a massive meteor impact that happened 50,000 years ago. They have an observatory and a wonderful museum there. On my way to Lowell observatory I stopped in. Read more and see pics here: A visit to Meteor Crater
New: A Visit to Lowell Observatory in Arizona – Looking at celestial objects is an exercise in looking back in time. Which is wonderful. Visiting this observatory is also an exercise in looking back 100 years in time. That’s how long this observatory has been in service. Wonderful place to visit with some magnificent telescopes. A Visit to Lowell Observatory
A visit to Seagrave Memorial Observatory in Scituate Rhode Island. This is an astronomy club that has weekly open observing nights for the general public (weather permitting) Take a look at the beautiful Alvan Clark telescope they have and learn more about them including what other telescopes they have. A Visit to the Seagrave Memorial Observatory
New: How to take pictures of the sun with a small telescope. I show you how to do it with just about any type of digital camera. You just need some kind of adapter. How to take pictures of the sun with a small telescope.
New: I drove 2,000 miles round-trip to see the eclipse. It was a bit of a sojourn and well worth it. Read my story about the how and why and see a picture of totality. The Telescope Nerd’s Eclipse Trip
This is why Bigger telescopes are better
These two views are of the Andromeda Galaxy through two different telescopes. But they are of the same magnification (power). Learn how magnification is not very important and learn what is actually important when it comes to a telescope. Magnification and Light Gathering in telescopes.
Before you buy a telescope on craigslist – I have some solid advice for you to help you determine the value of a telescope and I have some common pitfalls to avoid. How to buy a telescope on Craigslist.
The US Post Office has issued a new stamp to commemorate the eclipse that will cross North America on August 21, 2017. These stamps are thermochromatic. Learn more and see them in action here: US Eclipse stamps
New: Space, astronomy and telescope stamps. – Countries have a long and wonderful history of putting out stamps that commemorate the telescope and the skies. Check out some of my stamps here: Space, Telescope and Astronomy stamps.
Looking for a very first telescope? But don’t want to spend the money yet. Or looking for a telescope for a child or young person. Yet you want one that actually performs well. Celestron (Which is a premiere telescope making company) has an outstanding telescope at an extremely affordable price. I highly recommend this scope if you know almost nothing about telescopes yet want to try it without spending much money. I have more information about the Celestron FirstScope here
If you are able to spend a little bit more money I recommend you try this telescope. It is better
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope This is a a well made telescope with terrific optics. You can use it for astronomical viewing or terrestrial viewing. The mount is very stable which is important. The company is one of the premiere companies for telescope making. The important thing here is that you get really good value for your money. I recommend this one also if you don’t know much about astronomy and just want to get a good experience without breaking the bank. This is not like those cheap telescopes you can buy in the store. They always have very shaky mounts and inferior optics – not this one. Just check out all the 5 star reviews on amazon.
Amateur astronomy laments the loss of John Dobson. He was the monk turned astronomer and a tireless advocate of astronomy as a hobby. His telescope design is famous and wide-spread. I have a picture of an actual Dobsonian telescope that was signed by him. Read more here
Ever heard of a binoscope? Yes! It is two telescopes paired together as binoculars! I have more information about them including information from a leading hobbyist maker of them. More about Binoscopes.
The Little Astronomer Stop Motion Animation – Here is a fun little animation project that I have done inside a paper box. Watch what happens to our little astronomer right here. The Tatebanko Astronomer
Whoa! A friend got a hold of an old Meade 12.5 inch dobsonian. This is a great find. But it needs some reconditioning. Follow along with that project here: The Big 12.5 inch Mead Dob.
I have finished the 4 1/4 telescope project. . You can see that project here: How to make a Newtonian Reflector Telescope
New Book: The Story of what happened to Pluto – “How I killed Pluto and Why it had it coming” If you are interested in astronomy this is a must read! Read more about the book
Do you have a home made telescope? Make a telescope yourself? I have started a new section where you can submit pics of your scope and information about how you made it. Get to show off your accomplishment> Home Made Telescopes
New: Free Astronomy and Telescope Books. There are a whole bunch of them for the kindle. And you don’t even need a kindle. Amazon has a free Kindle for your PC app. I have it and all of these books. Free Astronomy and Telescope Books
New Article: A look at Double Stars – They have a fascinating history and are an important part of astronomy and telescopes.
New Article: Easy things to find with a small telescope or a pair of binoculars. There are lots of terrific things to find including planets, galaxies and nebulae. Here is my easy guide to help you find them.
New Article about a Famous Astronomer: Lord Rosse – He made the largest telescope of the 19th century and it still stands at the castle today. It is called The Leviathan of Parsons town
New: All about Rich Field Telescopes and how they are a great option for beginners
New Article: The Barlow Lens, what it is and how to use it –
This great little addition magnifies the power of your eyepieces.
Includes pictures and a guide to buying one.
New article: A look at the finderscope on a telescope, what it is, how it works and how to set it up.
The Nerds Guide to getting the most out of an inexpensive and small telescope.
So you have bought a small telescope or will be buying one. It can be a confusing process. I have a guide that shows you how to get the most out of it! There are some things you should know how to do. It will make your night time viewing much more rewarding. You can see a lot with a small telescope!
Take control of a real telescope from your computer. It is something called the SLOOH robotic telescope and you can follow along with real missions or direct it to anything in the sky that you like. It is a fun way to get to actually use a big telescope. There is a free level for basic stuff and a level where you pay for minutes at the telescope. About the SLOOH Telescope
I make a five inch telescope. When we think of a five inch telescope this isn’t exactly what we think of! But, it was a fun (little) project!
New: I just made the trek to the world famous Stellafane Convention in Vermont. It was spectacular. If you are interested in Telescope making it is the place to go! I have pictures of some of the telescopes and more stuff about the event here: Stellafane!!
NEWSFLASH: Orion is coming out with a new line of telescopes: They are Truss Tube Dobsonians, and get this, they are 36″, 40″, and 50″ in size!! Hard to believe but true. They call this the Monster Line of Telescopes and they are making me drool! I have more information about them here: The New Orion Monster Telescopes
New Project Tutorial: Make a Solar System Diorama– This one is quite unique in that the solar system is inside a cardboard tube telescope (just a shipping tube) You take the side off and see the planets, or you can actually look in the eyepiece and see the planets. Make a Solar System Diorama
Project tutorial: How to make a small refractor telescope. I show you everything and explain lens selection. How to make a small telescope
New Project Started (and finished)- I have started a new project. It is an eight inch reflector telescope that I will be building. I found a mirror on ebay and have purchased it. This is going to be a really fun project and you can follow along and learn about telescope making. Making an eight Inch Reflector Telescope
New Articles about telescopes
- Large telescopes currently being built – These telescopes will change our perception and understanding of the Universe.
- Who invented the telescope? Generally the Dutch spectacle maker Hans Lippershey is credited with the invention but…..
- An explanation of Telescope Aperture – It’s a pretty easy thing to understand and it is very important!
- Telescopes for Beginners – I give you three recommendations for good telescopes with value and explain the benefits. I look at the different makers of telescopes and the different types. If you are a beginner trying to figure out which telescope you should buy this guide will help.
- Why you should get a telescope – it can be a profound experience.
- Tycho Brahe – The greatest astronomer without a telescope! He lived before the telescope was invented but he accurately cataloged the location of stars, discovered the first known supernova and built some beautiful castle like observatories.
- Astronomy books for beginners – Here are the Nerd’s three recommendations if you want a book that will help you actually find your way around the night sky.
- A Guide to telescopes for kids – Solid advice on what to look for and how much to spend.
- Astronomy books for kids – There are two kinds of astronomy books. The first kind teaches all about astronomy and usually has projects and activities. The second kind of book is a companion to viewing the night sky. I give you recommendations on both types.
- Beginners telescopes – looking to buy a first telescope and want a recommendation from the nerd?
- All About Telescope Mirrors – I explain how they work give you the history and show you some of the largest mirrors in the world
- I take a look at some popular 4.5 inch telescopes. If you want to start out in astronomy with a small scope that will still perform reasonably without breaking the bank a 4.5 inch might be right for you. I take a look at several different brands at this size. 4.5 inch telescopes
- Johannes Kepler -Mathematician, astronomer and Optician. He invented a type of telescope and changed how we view the orbit of planets around the sun.
- Book Review: Making & Enjoying telescopes – This is a relatively new book that has six different projects for you to make.
- How fast is your telescope? An explanation of the f-ratio and why its important
- Why is it so hard to point and move my telescope? Explained
- I toake a look at five telescope making books that I own. If you want to make a telescope I explain which book covers what from mirror grinding to mount making.
- The Telescope is now older than we thought! New evidence shows telescope as being around before we thought they were invented by Lippershey in 1608.
- How Sir Isaac Newtons Telescope Changed the World – He didn’t discover any new planets with his telescope but he did change our view of the world with it.
- Huygens and the biggest telescopes of the 17th Century – His understanding of optics allowed him to improve on galileos telescope but it meant his telescopes were very long – as long as 120 feet!
Science Fair Telescope Making Kit. Includes Cardboard Tubes and Lenses. 6x
- Emulate Galileo and make your own refracting telescope. This is a great science fair kit.
- It includes (2) glass lenses for 6X magnification, plus (2) 3″ and (2) 8″ long cardboard tubes for the housing.
- Finished scope will have an approx 14″ working length.
How to take great star photos without a telescope. This tutorial shows you tips and tricks for using a 35mm camera to take great star Photos. How to take Star Photos and Star Trail Pictures without a Telescope
How to enjoy the night sky without a telescope. This is an article I have written that will help you find all the best objects in the night sky that can be seen without a telescope. I also give you tips on the best practices and what to bring with you for your observing.
A look at the largest telescopes in the world and some monster sized ones that are currently being constructed The Big Telescopes of the World
– The Discovery Channel is making their own telescope. The primary mirror is fourteen feet in diameter and it weighs over 7 thousand pounds. And of course the Discovery Channel is taking us inside for a look at how the Telescope is being built. It’s some really interesting stuff. I have more information about it here: The Discovery Channel Telescope( I also have videos)
William Herschel and the largest telescope of the 18th Century. Herschel discovered Uranus and make over 400 Telescopes. Read more about him and the biggest telescope in the world during the 18th Century. William Herschel
Stellafane is one of the best Conventions for telescope makers. They have been going strong since 1926. Their annual convention is all about telescope making and mirror grinding. They also have one of the most unique telescopes ever made: The Porter Turret Telescope. Read more about it here
New: Newtons Telescope – You might be familiar with Galileo’s telescope. He is generally credited as creating the first refractor telescope that was used for astronomical observation. I do have an essay on Galileo’s Telescope here . But you might not be familiar with the First telescope that was made with a mirror rather than lenses. That telescope is now called the Newtonian after its early adopter. Newton didn’t invent the reflector telescope.It was invented by an Italian Monk Physicist, and Astronomer named Niccolo Zucchi . But Newton did simplify the design and build one (The actual telescope he built is shown in the photo at left). He built this telescope sometime shortly before 1670 and it first became known when he described it to the Royal Society in 1670. There is a company that has replicated this beautiful telescope. Take a look at it here: Vixen 34031 Replica Newtonian Telescope (It’s quite a beautiful newly updated rendition.) (I also have an interesting article about Sir Isaac Newton and his telescope here: How Newtons Telescope changed the world)
If you’re looking for a unique children’s bedtime story with an astronomical theme, pick up There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars . This beautifully illustrated book helps children discover the magic of the night sky, the growing problem of light pollution, and what can be done to save the vanishing stars. There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars (Available on Amazon.com)
Passionate about Telescopes
I want to applaud your interest in astronomy and telescopes. Making and using telescopes has been a passion of mine for a very long time. This is an old picture of me with the first telescope I made. I thoroughly enjoy the hobby and I know that you will enjoy it too. It will bring a lot of enrichment to your life as it has done with mine.
Galileo is often thought of as inventing the telescope. He didn’t invent the telescope but he was the first person to turn one toward the night sky. And the observations he made created the new science of modern astronomy where telescopes are used to help us understand our universe, our place in it, and how it works.
Galileo first heard about the mysterious telescope in 1609 and set out to make a copy for himself. This first telescope magnified images about three times. And over the course of a decade Galileo continued to make more telescopes and his most powerful one magnified images about ten times. This telescope enabled him to see things never before seen. And it enabled him to change our view of the universe and of the objects in the sky. If you want to read more about Galileo and his telescope I have a great article here.
New Article An explanation of the Resolution of Telescopes – Resolution is more important than magnification and it is the reason why big telescopes are better than small ones.
New Article Reminiscing about the telescope I always wanted – Its been many years and I still haven’t gotten one but maybe someday…
New Article : How to Make a telescope: Tips for beginners Some easy tips and explanations of telescopes both refractors and dobsonians.