The analyzed telescope, Mel Bartels

Why the telescope?

Looking through the telescope and imaging with the telescope

The 'ilities

A user story

  1. I'm eager to observe
  2. skies forecast looks good
  3. quickly load up scope in car
  4. drive to site
  5. setup scope (in darkness)
  6. use scope until tired
  7. preplanned observations for whimsical observing
  8. quickly load up scope
  9. drive home safely
  10. good memories, good emotions and good satisfaction
  11. maybe combine with other purposes like camping, vacation

Aperture versus ergonomics

The telescope's aperture, or diameter of the optics, is the dominant factor (object detail and magnification, price, size, complexity). Since there are several factors, trade-offs necessarily occur based on the user's dominant needs.

The desire for aperture is called 'aperture fever'. The rationalizing goes like this: aperture is an important factor, astronomical objects are dim afterall, therefore more of it is better, in fact you might miss out if you don't get the biggest scope possible.

Nonetheless, ergonomics trump aperture since a large difficult scope not used is no scope at all. It's harder for us to rationalize ergonomic factors because the penalty occurs in the future and we see ourselves as flexible. "Yes my new ultra huge scope X is heavy and complicated, but I'll be motiviated to carry it every night and spend half an hour setting it up, I promise". Worse, when that ultra huge scope X does show up on the doorstep, we are highly motivated to get out and observe with it. We ignore ergonomics for the time being. Gradually though ergonomic factors dominate with the result that scope X isn't actually used that much. A smaller grab-n-go scope is then purchased.

Time under the stars is precious, therefore ergonomic factors will eventually dominate.

Ergonomic requirements


At the scope


Do we think of telescopes as the object then adapt them and ourselves to fit, or do we start with objects to observe, then consider our eyes, selecting eyepieces and finally the telescope? Perhaps we need to consider both ways. That means