Q.: So I’ve just spent a significant amount of cash on a telescope. Do I really need to buy more stuff?
Of course. In a capitalist country what kind of a hobby would it be if there weren’t lots of
accessories to arouse your desire?
Seriously, there are a few things you really need, and a few other things you will find are nice to have as you gain experience with the scope. By the way, this accessory list is oriented to SCT
scopes but largely applies to any telescope.
I’ve listed suggestions on what accessories you need, what else is nice to have, a discussion on eyepieces, a discussion of some accessories you can easily make (such as an eyepiece tray for your tripod), a
discussion on balancing your scope, and a discussion about scope maintenance (including collimating your scope and how to clean the optics of your system - the corrector plate and your eyepieces). Use the
buttons at the top of this page to jump to the different sections of the SCT Tips pages. Also, check the Used Equipment Links page for links to Web sites that list used equipment for sale.
Note that the whole discussion of accessories in this section is oriented to visual observing with an SCT. Under the Photo Basics section of this site I have another discussion of useful accessories for astrophotography.
There are a number of distributors with Web sites that allow you to look up prices and order a wide range of telescopes or accessories directly over the Web. Some of the most
popular include (in alphabetical order - these are all reputable distributors):
- Starizona, which has an excellent reputation as a vendor of Celestron scopes and products, and also manufactures some Celestron accessories (such as the
HyperStar system, which is good enough that Celestron decided not to produce a separate Fastar lens system for their 11” and 14” scopes).
The Starizona web site also contains a lot of good advice and is worth perusing.
- Anacortes Telescope
- Hands On Optics (among many other things they sell those wonderful “bolt-style” eyepiece cases that Meade includes with their eyepieces)
- Oceanside Photo and Telescope
- Orion Telescopes (which has a number of nice accessories not available elsewhere, and whose prices, especially for “standard” accessories, are hard to beat)
Note that if you get the UPS Tracking Number from a mail-order distributor, you can go to the UPS Tracking Web site and see where your package is and when it will be delivered, in real time. (FWIW, other shippers including USPS and FedEx, don’t provide the same real-time status as well as UPS does.)
Most telescope manufacturers have their own Web sites, as do most of the smaller companies that make accessories. (Many of those that don’t have their own sites
have placed their information at Astronomy Mall.)
There are a number of accessory manufacturers that have good reputations, having been committed to making quality accessories for telescopes for a long time. Some recommended links include:
- Jim’s Mobile (JMI) - including motorized/digital focuser attachments really necessary to achieve fine focus for CCD astrophotography;
- ScopeStuff - A variety of accessories and parts for an SCT including piggyback rails to mount accessory scopes and cameras on an SCT, inexpensive SCT counterweight systems, a variety of knobs and thumbscrews, eyepiece dust caps, regulated power supplies and cables (very important since the factory-supplied power supplies for most SCTs are mediocre at best), eyepieces, and much more.
- Losmandy - including excellent equatorial mounts and dovetail mounting systems to add accessories to a scope;
- Scopetronix - many products, but in particular this is an important vendor if you want to mount a consumer digicam on your scope for astrophotography;
- Kendrick Astro Instruments (including the “Kwik Focus” lens cap that really helps focus an image for astrophotography);
- Murnaghan Instruments - astrophotography accessories including a less expensive 1.25” flip-mirror than Meade’s, filters, and eyepieces including the hard-to-find but highly regarded Speers-Waler eyepieces;
- Lumicon, which was especially well known for the quality of their filters, had gone out of business but Parks Optical has assumed production of their
- AstroGadgets - has cables to connect scopes to computers - harder to find than you might think.
- AstroGeeks - really neat software that allows you to control NexStar scopes with a computer.
- Bill Vorce's Telescope Warehouse - a lot of parts and equipment for old telescopes (as well as newer ones).