I bought a telescope almost three years ago now, and I’d still consider myself pretty novice, but learning. One thing I was sure that I was doing wrong over the years was colimnation, which is aligning the optics in your scope. I missed a good chance to get some help with it last summer, but over the course of the fall, even with great new eye pieces, something didn’t seem quite right with my scope.
In December I bought a laser colimnator (much like the one pictured). Basically it has a red laser it shoots out of the cylinder which goes down, bounces off you primary mirror, then comes back and shines on that set of cross hairs. If you mange to put the red dot in the center of those cross hairs, life is good.
I finally got around to pulling it out today, as I’ve been a wimp all winter, and haven’t had the scope out since early December. I dropped it in, and didn’t see a dot on the cross hairs… and was really confused. So I popped off the cover of my scope and saw that the little red dot that was supposed to be in the center of my main mirror, was 6 inches to the right.
15 minutes later of tweaking things, life is good. I now can’t wait to get the scope out there, because it being that far out of whack would definitely have degraded my viewing incredibly.
Lesson: some times you are just an idiot and only time, experience, and the right tools are going to let you realize that.