HAA Loaner Program

HAA is proud to offer a free loaner program to its’ members. (For details on becoming an HAA member please click here). We have a variety of telescopes and other gear to borrow for a period of up to one month.

The following telescopes and accessories are available (or download):

DESCRIPTIONUSER LEVELAVAILABILITY
8” F6/1200mm Dobsonian telescope with stand, a finder scope, and low, medium and high powered eyepieces. ViewBeginner and UpNO
8” F6/1200mm Dobsonian telescope with stand, a finder scope, and low, medium and high powered eyepieces. ViewBeginner and Up NO
5” Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT 650 focal length/130mm with GoTo
(computerized mount that can automatically point the telescope at
astronomical objects). AC power, or 8 AA batteries (supplied by
borrower). Portable power pack coming soon. View
Beginner and Up NO
F6/80mm Spotting Scope – ideal for daytime ie birding, landscape,
wildlife, in addition to some limited astronomical viewing. View
Beginner and Up YES
8” Celestron Schmidt-Cassigrain 8 with CG5 mount. This only has
AC power at the moment – battery pack coming soon! View
ExpertYES
Celestron case of 6 eyepieces, 6 filters and a barlow. ViewBeginner and Up YES
MallinCam, television and cables to connect to a computer. ViewIntermediate and UpYES
Various power level eyepiecesBeginner and Up YES

Please email requests to loanerscope@amateurastronomy.org along with the completed agreement form.

Here are some tips for success on the care and use of HAA Optical Equipment (or download);

Optical equipment is delicate and should be handled with care. Minding the following suggestions
will help us prolong the life of the equipment you have borrowed and allow future members to
continue to enjoy this benefit of membership.

WARNING: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, telescopes or finder scopes –
even for an instant, as permanent eye damage can result.

  1. To deliver optimum performance, the telescope’s optical components must be at ambient air
    temperature. This eliminates optical distortion and what are called tube currents that
    degrade the image in the eyepiece. A good storage area for the telescope is a
    lockable garage, covered porch or entrance area that is not heated. If such is not available, take
    the scope indoors when not in use. Just remember to set it up outdoors about half an hour prior to
    observing so that the mirrors can cool and the warm air currents in the tube have escaped. After
    your observing session, leave the eyepieces and scope out to allow for temperature
    adjustments before packing them up.
  2. Never leave the telescope outside where it will be exposed to the wind or rain. Even when
    covered with a tarp, it can be blown over and seriously damaged.
  3. The mirror on a reflector telescope is coated on the front side of the glass, not on the back
    like the mirror in your bathroom. Always place the supplied cover over the front opening of the
    telescope when it is stored. This will help prevent dust from building up on the mirror. A bit of
    dust is expected and should be of no concern. Never attempt to clean the mirror
    yourself. It requires special cleaning and rinsing solutions as well as swabs for wiping the
    surface. The HAA Loaner Scope Program Manager is responsible for keeping the mirrors tidy. If the
    mirrors need cleaning, please email the address above.
  4. Eyepieces have optical coatings designed to eliminate reflections, thereby letting a
    maximum amount of light through the observer’s eye. It is a good idea after an observing session to
    wipe the eyepiece lens area with a clean, soft cloth tat has been dipped in warm water. Dry the
    eyepiece with a soft, non-abrasive cloth immediately thereafter.
  5. When transporting the telescope, make certain that it is snuggly cradled on a
    padded surface and not subject to sharp bangs or bumps. If not, the mirrors can be knocked out of
    collimation (alignment) and optical performance will be greatly compromised. Should this happen,
    contact the HAA Loaner Scope Manager who will arrange for repairs with special tools. You’ll know
    your scope is out of collimation because you won’t be able to get an
    piece. Another indication of poor collimation is an y in focus at the centre of the field of
    view.

Tips for a Good Night Under the Stars:

Here are some tips that will help you enjoy that first clear night with your telescope. W assume
that you’ll already have a made up list of targets for the night based on what is above the horizon
during the time you’ll be observing. Don’t forget to take your red beam flashlight for reading the
star charts you’ll be using!

  1. In the winter, be sure you over-dress for the weather. It’s easier to take a coat off and stow
    it in the care than it is to drive back to your house to pick one up!
  2. Don’t forget the bug spray in the summer. Just be careful not to get it on the
    lenses or eyepieces. The DEET in most formulations is corrosive to plastics and
    optical coatings. Spray yourself about 15 feet away from the scope, and wipe your hands on a paper
    towel after use.
  3. Light pollution is your enemy, so avoid areas that are close to old cobra-style street lights,
    shopping malls and poorly designed (or aimed) residential lights. Ideally, a country or semi- rural
    location should be chosen. Make certain that you have a good view with as few trees as possible in
    the immediate area. Also, let someone know where you’re going for the night and when you expect to
    be home! It’s also a good idea to take your cell phone in case of emergency.
  4. Wait until your eyes are dark-adapted (usually about 15-20 minutes) before you
    begin observing. If your main target is the Moon or a bright planet, light pollution won’t be much
    of a problem. Both targets are bright enough to cut through the energy-waste, so getting a good
    image won’t be a problem. In this case, dark-adapted eyes aren’t as critical.
  5. The HAA website (www.amateurastronomy.org) has Clear Sky Charts for Hamilton and
    Binbrook which will provide some indications of the seeing conditions for the night. If the top
    line shows all dark blue, you’re in for a great night. If it is a lighter shade of blue, the sky
    conditions aren’t as good. A white top band means you will be clouded out.

Getting Started with your Telescope:

  1. You should adjust the finder scope or Red Dot Finder (RDF) at each session. To
    do so, centre a distant object in the telescope using a low power (ie 25mm) eyepiece. A light on a
    radio tower is a good target. Now look through the finder and adjust it or the RDF so that the
    object is entered there. It is easiest to do this when there is still some daylight available. To
    make finding things easier, the finder scopes deliver a correctly oriented image so that what you
    see in in the sky is what you see through the finder eyepiece. They also feature two-screw
    adjustment.
  2. To focus the finder scopes, rotate the front lens. This should be done will looking through
    the finder. There is also a lock ring which may be loosened prior to adjusting the
    focus. Once you reach focus, snug up the lock ring. If you are focusing on a star, it should appear
    as a pinpoint sharp dot when properly in focus.
  3. To find an object, put a low power eyepiece into the focuser. In most cases, this will be the
    20 or 25 mm eyepiece. Next, use the finder scope or RDF to locate the object. Try to align the
    object in the centre of the finder scope, using the crosshairs. If you have properly
    aligned the finder or RDF prior to your observing session, your target should be in the low- power
    eyepiece’s field of view. Now, if you wish to get up close and personal, you can put one of the
    high-power eyepieces into the focuser. These will be 10 or 12mm eyepieces.
  4. To calculate the power a given eyepiece delivers, simply divide the focal length engraved on
    the eyepiece (10mm/20mm/25mm/32mm) into the focal length of the telescope. For example,
    you might have a DOB with a focal length of 1200mm. Thus, a 10mm eyepiece will deliver 120 power
    (120x). That means an object will appear 120 times closer.
  5. If included, the Barlow lens is like a turbo charger for your telescope. It doubles the power
    of any eyepiece. Thus, a 25mm eyepiece will perform like a 12.5mm one. Ditto a 10mm
    eyepiece – it turns into a 5mm powerhouse. Just remember, the higher you boost the
    power, the more adjustments you’ll have to make when tracking your target. That’s because when the
    power goes up, the field of view narrows. But the Earth keeps rotating at the same
    speed!
  6. Some scopes can deliver up to 240x or more, especially when using a Barlow lens.
    But many times the atmosphere is too unstable to make this a usable power. Images
    can appear to wobble and boil at this power. Subtle details will blur and the view will not be
    useful or appealing. In this case, reduce the power until the details become crisp. You will also
    find that some objects are too large to view at high power. The Pleiades is an excellent example of
    this. It is best viewed through the 32mm eyepiece. If your scope doesn’t have one, trying viewing
    it through the finder or the 25mm eyepiece. A little experimenting will help you establish which
    eyepiece is best for what objects – and on what nights depending on atmospheric conditions.
  7. The rules that apply to focusing the finder scope also apply to focusing the image in the main
    optical tube – you are looking to acquire a crisp, sharp image. The difference is that you are now
    using the focuser knobs instead of the front lens cell. If your target is a star, focus down to
    the point that the star is as small as you can make it and still remain a pinpoint
    of light. If it is a planet (Venus is the exception) focus down until you acquire crisp planetary
    surface detail in the eyepiece. This can be achieved on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Venus is
    shrouded with clouds so you’ll have to settle for as compared an image as possible.
    Also, because Venus and Mercury are inside Earth’s orbit, we only see them in phases like the Moon.
    Mercury is a tough target because it hugs the horizon in the evening or morning. Planetary
    detail is difficult to see through the haze when viewing ground- hugging Mercury. Neptune
    and Uranus will only appear as blue-green spheres in the HAA scopes, and distant dwarf planet
    Pluto is all but impossible to spot in the field of view without a chart to tell it from
    the background stars.

Those are the basics. Hot coffee or chocolate is a warm friend as is a radio to keep you company.
While a red flashlight will preserve your dark-adapted eyesight, it is also a good idea to have a
white light flashlight available to help find those things that alway get dropped! It’s also handy
for checking out your site for left-behinds when packing to leave, not to mention the emergency
that you probably won’t have – maybe.

If you’re lucky to have an HAA organized viewing at our exclusive viewing area while you are
borrowing a scope, be sure to come out for lots more tips, advice, and experience with other types
of telescopes!

Here’s to clear skies and successful observing!