I’m not saying you don’t have beautiful eyes, but I suspect that when you look through your new telescope, you expect to see something a little more awe-inspiring.
Believe it or not, seeing your own eye staring back at you is quite a common occurrence, so you’re not alone in this predicament, and don’t worry, this doesn’t mean your fancy new scope is broken.
Why is this such a widespread issue? Well, there are actually a few scenarios in which you’ll find yourself staring into the depths of your own peeper. As such, it’s bound to happen, especially if you’re new to the astronomy game.
Being that there are quite a few causes, even though it’s generally quite easy to fix, this mirror effect can be a little time consuming and confusing to troubleshoot. But don’t sweat it, as I’m going to walk you through causes and fixes of each one.
Reasons For Seeing Your Eye Through Your Telescope
Here, I’ve got one mission, and one mission alone, to keep your eye on the other side of the scope so you can see past yourself and into the cosmic soup of deep space.
Misuse Of Focuser
Are you quite hard on your focuser when trying to sharpen an image? If yes, this could well be the problem.
When we’ve got a celestial body in our crosshairs, it can be easy to get overzealous and try to sharpen the acuity of the image very quickly so we can get a good eye full, but that’s where we’re going wrong.
Trying to focus too quickly can lead to the dreaded eye reflection you’ve come here to solve. It’s important that you use your focuser in a measured and gentle fashion; however, going too slow can also be a problem.
Focusing is all about finding a balance between acting too quickly and too slowly. Once you get it right, you may find that your eye disappears from the view, and you can finally do some killer stargazing.
Next time this happens, check the focuser installation. Ensure it’s properly aligned, and adjust your focusing technique.
Have you remembered to pop that lens cap of yours? I know, I know… it sounds like a rookie error, but we’re all rookies to begin with, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for falling into the same traps that those that came before you also found themselves in.
Quickly check that you’ve removed your lens cap. If it’s still on, take it off, then have another look through your telescope.
If you’re only just now removing it, the chances are you’ve still got a lot of aligning to do before you’ll see anything, so don’t be deterred if you still can’t see a nice crisp image.
Failed Preliminary Focusing
More important than focusing on the fly to sharpen your image whilst stargazing is to do a preliminary focus in the daytime. This will provide the best possible foundation for focusing things up after dark (which can be quite tricky for beginners).
If you do this wrong or forget to do it all together, unless your telescope has arrived perfectly calibrated out the box (it won’t have), then this may well be why you’re catching a glimpse of your own baby blue when looking into the eyepiece.
So, next time, before you head out into the night, put aside some time in the day to focus up. This is done by…
- Targeting a distant object (100 to 200 feet away is just right)
- Centering the target in your eyepiece
- Using the focus wheels to buff away any blurring
If focusing was the issue, but you’re still seeing your own eye in your telescope after doing this, there’s a good chance that you focused over too short or too long of a distance.
So, if you’re still plagued by the problem, try focusing again, this time with a different target, or at the correct distance from your initial target.
Alignment Gone Awry
One very common misconception is that all you have to do to a telescope to prepare it for peering into the majesty of outer space is focus it — Oh, if only!
Sadly, this is not the only bit of prep you’ll need to engage in if you want to peep some planets. Focusing should actually occur after you’ve sorted out your alignment.
Alignment is exactly what it sounds like. You’re making sure all the pieces of your telescope are looking in the same direction and at the same target. If they’re off doing their own thing, then you’ll be lucky to see anything at all, let alone your own eye.
To align your telescope, you need to…
- During daylight, take your eyepiece and target something between 100 and 200 feet away (just like when you focus it).
- Center the target in your eyepiece. I’d recommend using an electricity pole or a straight tree, as thin, straight targets are easy to center with precision.
- Next up, take a look through your finder, and try to center the exact same image that you see through your eyepiece. The image may well be upside down here, but fret not! Try your best to center it regardless.
- Sometimes, telescopes come with a red dot finder, meaning you center it by aligning a red dot on your target. If this is the case with your scope, do so.
- At this point, you should be all done, but just to make sure nothing has shifted out of alignment during your tweaking, return to your eyepiece and check that the target is still perfectly aligned.
With any luck, one of the above fixes worked and you haven’t even made it this far into the article; however, there are also a few situations in which you might not be seeing your whole eye, but something similar is happening, so let’s address these issues too.
Seeing Eyelashes Reflected
Maybe you can’t see your eye as such, but those fluttering lashes of yours are proving to be a real nuisance. Why the heck is this happening?
Well, this isn’t actually the reflection of your eyelashes as it was your eye, it’s their shadow, and it occurs when the radius of your lashes exceeds that of the exit pupil.
This results in a spot of eyelash shadow puppetry directly over the lens — Fantastic, right? Now let’s think about how we can fix it.
You could try adjusting your viewing stance, distance from the scope, or using a larger exit pupil at certain magnifications.
There are three main reasons you may be met with a misty view in your telescope:
- Light Pollution
Light pollution makes the image both brighter (surprise, surprise) and less definite. Instead of a crisp black night sky furnished with twinkling stars, you’ll see a milky mess.
To fix this, you have to get away from those pesky lights. Try traveling around 30 miles from the city limits and finding yourself a nice dark sky spot.
- Focusing/Alignment (again)
This could also be caused by poor focusing or alignment, so make sure you nail your preparations before setting up.
- Your Eye’s Focus
A pale view could also just be the product of your eye adjusting to the light conditions, so give it a few moments. You may notice the issue resolves itself.
Now you know why you’re seeing your eye through your telescope instead of the wonders of the cosmos.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you identify the problem and fix it, thereby opening the door to the solar system and beyond!
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