Astronomy Tools List – Gear Guide

Astronomy Tools List – Gear Guide

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Astronomy Tools List – Gear Guide

Astronomy Tools List – Gear Guide

Whether your stargazing journey involves a trip down to a dark-sky site or just to your home’s backyard, balcony, rooftop or anywhere nearby, success will largely depend on how well you prepare beforehand. You’ll need to gear up properly and ensure your astronomy tools include everything necessary for an out of this world experience. Certainly, you don’t want to keep running back and forth because you forgot one item or the other!

There is a ritual that goes with setting up the required equipment from assembling the scope to some basic items you’ll need for body comfort, and it’s easy to forget something. But no worries. Below, we’ve compiled an astronomy tools list guaranteed to make your next stargazing expedition an enjoyable one.

Telescopes for Astronomy

Though it’s fun to watch the sky with your naked eyes, at some point you want to get a better view and go for a telescope and its accompanying accessories. For those just starting out, there are four types of telescopes to choose from. They are reflectors, refractors, hybrid, and Dobsonian. You’ll also need to decide how powerful a telescope you need; do you want something portable that can be easily moved around or a heavy one that seems to propel you into distant galaxies?

Here’s a couple of articles you’ll find interesting:

Best Telescopes Review

Which Telescope Is Best Refractor Vs Reflecting

Astronomy Binoculars

Good stargazing binoculars work just fine if you would rather start with a small and portable device. They are relatively affordable and lightweight binoculars, yet they are powerful enough to reveal much more night-sky wonders than the naked human eye. As a bonus, you can use the same binoculars in daytime for activities like sports, animal spotting and bird-watching, etc.

When selecting binoculars for astronomy, look for one with “porro prisms” instead of the “roof prisms” that are common with smaller sports binoculars. Interestingly, large, powerful binoculars can do just as well as telescopes. All you need to do is set it on a tripod, and attach a counter-weighted arm for your comfort.

For more information on Binoculars check out the following articles:

Binoculars For Astronomy Buying Guide

Best Binoculars For Stargazing

Difference Between Telescope And Binoculars

Skywatching Software

Specialized software is not a must for amateur stargazing but using it will enhance your viewing experience and save time as they help to map out the night sky. Use them to navigate to prime targets in the sky based on your location and the time of year.

Some digital planetarium software to check out include:



Among the numerous planetarium software available, Stellarium is the only free software that is so reliable it’s also used in commercial planetaria worldwide to date. It runs on all major computer OS and offers rendered views similar to what can be seen through a telescope or binoculars. Stellarium comes with a default catalog of more than 600,000 stars and additional catalogs with over 210 million stars.



This solar system simulator is unique because the movements of the solar bodies it displays are based on their gravitational interactions with other celestial bodies. As a result, the viewer gets accurate motions of asteroids, planets and comets. AstroGrav comes with over 100 000 stars, plus all the constellations, and it allows planetarium-style viewing points from any location in the world.

Where Is M13? – Unlike the flat and one-dimensional view of a telescope, this software allows an almost 3D view of the relationship between a solar system body and the galaxy. It also provides information such as galactic coordinates, luminosity, distance, true size, and angular diameter of these bodies.

Peranso – This app allows you to observe variable stars and other objects with varying brightness. Users can enjoy the in-depth analysis of light curves and luminosity periods.

Skywatching Phone Apps

There are several Android and iOS skywatching apps available, but it’s important to pick an app equipped with a red-screen mode to preserve your eye’s dark adaptation. Choices include:

SkyView (iOS/Android) – SkyView is simple to use. Just point your phone at the sky, and this app will identify galaxies, stars, constellations, planets, and satellites. It also comes with interesting facts about the objects you’ll see.

Star Walk 2 (iOS/Android) – In addition to identifying celestial bodies, Star Walk 2 will turn a constellation into a fascinating-looking arrangement to form its shape. You can also view and study meteor showers, planetary nebulae, clusters of stars, etc.

Stellarium Mobile Sky Map (iOS/Android) – This app is big on realism and calls itself a planetarium in your pocket. It offers a clear view of the night sky and is very detailed and informative.

Observing Chair

An observing chair will make your time looking up at the sky easier on your back, neck, and arms. Especially if you intend using binoculars. A sturdy but lightweight reclining lawn chair will usually do but if you want to be completely comfortable enough to concentrate on stargazing, get a purpose-built astronomy chair with a padded backrest.

You may want to consider  Ergonomic Worker Seat/Chair  due to its foldability and compact design and personally my favorite due to it’s exceptional comfort Strongbacks Guru folding chair 


Red-light Flashlight

It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to almost an hour for your eyes to become dark-adapted and that can be a pain when you want to observe at night. You don’t want to waste too much time because you’ll also need to read star charts and find objects around you. There are many brands of red-light flashlights that are solid and affordable.

They keep your eyes adjusted to the dark even if there is a brief interruption from white light (cellphone, car headlights, etc.). Check out Wayllshine Astronomy Light or the Celestron Astro Night Vision Flashlight.


Portable Power

Take a big battery along as you don’t want your phone or tablet running out of power before the night’s activity is done. Look for one that is large enough to carry basics like laptop, tablet, telescope, phone and so on.

Backup power units such as Orion Dynamo Power Tank or the Celestron Power Tank will do just fine.

Lens Warmer/Heater

Depending on how long you intend staying outdoors, the arrival of dew may significantly cut short your viewing time if you don’t prepare for it. Dew will cause your viewing lenses to become foggy and basically make it impossible to see anything clearly. You can get electric warming strips like the Orion Dew Zapper Pro-4 Channel Prevention to wrap around parts of your telescope like the primary mirror, front objective, and the finder scope.

Cell Phone

It’s vital your cellphone is within reach at all times and charged especially if the viewing site is far from your home or in a remote and lonely spot. Keeping it handy could help in the unlikely event of an emergency. We would also recommend you bring along a fully charged power bank, especially if you intend to use some of the apps we mentioned above.


Comfort Items

This astronomy tools list would not be complete without a number of items stargazers often overlook – basic comfort items. Remember that watching the night sky doesn’t involve much physical activity so you’re likely to lose body heat quickly out in the cold. Stay warm and comfy with the following:

  •  Warm clothing – cover up with layers of clothing and personal recommendation would be thermal items
  •  Thick socks – preferably thermal
  •  Gloves
  •  Blanket
  •  Belt Pack – very handy for keeping little items like keys nearby.
  •  Drink and light food – warm tea, water, very light snacks (eat too much, and you may fall asleep).
  •  Beach towel – spread a brightly colored beach towel under your tripod legs so if something falls it lands on a soft surface and is easier to find.

Final Thoughts

Like we mentioned before, your star watching venture would go off much better if you are prepared and not running around finding one item or the other. Hopefully, the above astronomy tools list will put you in a better position to prepare, set up your gear, and enjoy an experience way beyond our world!

About Refracting Telescope

A refractor telescope, also known as a refracting telescope, is a type of telescope that uses a lens to focus light. It was one of the first types of telescopes invented and is still used by astronomers today. The lens at the front of the telescope is called the objective lens, and it is responsible for gathering light and bending it so that it converges to a point of focus at the back of the telescope, where an eyepiece is located to magnify the image formed by the objective lens.

The Optical Design

The optical design of a refractor telescope is relatively simple. The objective lens is a convex lens, meaning that it is thicker in the middle than at the edges. When light passes through the lens, it is refracted, or bent, by an amount that depends on the angle at which it hits the lens and the properties of the glass. The refracted light converges at a point called the focus, which is located a certain distance behind the lens. The distance between the lens and the focus is called the focal length, and it is an important characteristic of the objective lens.

The eyepiece is a small lens that is placed near the focus of the objective lens. Its job is to magnify the image formed by the objective lens so that it can be viewed by the observer. The magnification of the telescope is determined by the ratio of the focal lengths of the objective lens and the eyepiece. For example, if the focal length of the objective lens is 1000mm and the focal length of the eyepiece is 10mm, the magnification of the telescope would be 100x (1000/10 = 100).

In addition to the objective lens and eyepiece, refractor telescopes typically have a few other components to help with focusing and alignment. A diagonal mirror is often used to redirect the light from the objective lens to a more comfortable viewing angle. A focuser is used to move the eyepiece closer or farther away from the objective lens to achieve a sharp focus. Finally, a mount is used to support the telescope and allow it to be pointed at different objects in the sky.

The Advantages of Refracting Telescope

One advantage of refractor telescopes is that they produce high-quality images with good contrast and minimal chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration is a phenomenon where different colors of light are refracted differently by the lens, causing a rainbow-like effect around bright objects in the image. This can be a problem with some types of lenses, but it is less of an issue with refractor telescopes because they use a single lens to focus the light.

Another advantage of refractor telescopes is that they are relatively low-maintenance. Because the objective lens is sealed inside the telescope tube, it is protected from dust and other debris. This means that the lens does not need to be cleaned as often as the mirrors in a reflecting telescope. However, it is still important to keep the lens clean and free of fingerprints or other smudges, which can degrade the image quality.

Overall, a refractor telescope is a simple but powerful tool for observing the night sky. With a well-made objective lens and a high-quality eyepiece, it is possible to see many of the wonders of the universe, from the craters of the Moon to the rings of Saturn and beyond. Whether you are a seasoned astronomer or a curious beginner, a refractor telescope is a great way to explore the cosmos and deepen your appreciation for the beauty and complexity of our universe.