If you’ve bought a Dobsonian telescope, you may be wondering, what else do you need for a good experience in using it. Here I cover the must-have telescope accessories that are suited to the Dobsonian user.
As I’ve written about before, Dobsonians have a few advantages over other types of telescopes. Here’s what you can accessorize them with for a next-level experience.
Telescope accessories list
Here is a list of accessories to consider to complement your Dobsonian.
the best finderscope for Dobsonian
A finderscope is important in how to find planets and targetting other celestial bodies, e.g., bright stars and clusters, so that you can point your telescope to observe these.
Dobsonians come with finderscopes like most telescopes do. But the straight through type that are standard with these are uncomfortable to use. At least that’s my experience. One of the first accessories I purchased for my Dobsonian was a right-angle finderscope so that I didn’t have to contort my body just to see through it.
Also, with the standard finderscope, the image you see is upside-down and this can be annoying when you are trying to point your telescope at the target object. It just adds that extra strain on your brain to think opposite. I explain why the image appears upside in my article that covers better types of finderscopes.
One fix is to get yourself a right-angle finderscope so that the image is up the ‘right way’. This makes it so much simpler when trying to point the telescope.
Red flashlight a must
A red flashlight is a must-have for backyard astronomers to preserve night vision that’s essential for better views of distant objects. I cover this in more detail in my article that includes how to make one yourself.
You need to store your telescope away from moisture and dust. I discuss good storage options in more detail in my article on storing telescopes. This can include a telescope cover to avoid dust getting into the equipment. You definitely need covers for the lenses and in most cases these come with your purchase. If you happen to lose them or break them, it’s important to get replacements.
You’ll get at least two eyepieces with your telescope. In most cases, these will get you by as they’ll be generalist types. As you get more experienced, you may want to go beyond these capabilities and try different power. I wrote an article on buying extra eyepieces to help with this.
Some telescope purchases come with a Barlow lens. If not, you might want to buy one. A Barlow lens multiplies the power of your eyepiece and can reduce the number of eyepieces you need in your telescope kit. Quality of the piece is important. You can find out more and how to use one in my article on Barlow lenses.
Filters for your eyepieces allow you better views by way of adding contrast. If there is one filter to buy first up, it’s a lunar filter. The Moon is an object everyone can enjoy looking at all year round. Moon filters are a neutral gray and help reduce glare so the Moon features stand out more.
Filters come in different colors to remove certain wavelengths of light. I’ll cover this in more detail in a future article.
I’ve written about solar filters, which are needed when viewing the Sun for sunspots and during eclipses.
You need to know your way around the sky, so sky maps or planispheres are important. These show you where to see certain constellations or bright stars as well as the position of planets.
Apps on your device can serve this purpose or you can buy hardcopy planispheres or books with sky charts included.
I recommend getting a hardcopy version. These have an advantage over the apps in cases where you don’t have internet connection or when your device happens to be low on power.
This is an optional extra, but a good idea to have an observer’s seat as standing looking at the sky can take its toll. You can get ones that are adjustable in height, like this one…
Ergonomic Seat by Vestil
available at Amazon
Dob Dolly or trolley
A 6″ or higher Dobsonian is fairly bulky. You might want to consider a trolley or dob dolly to transfer it from its storage space or from your vehicle to the viewing spot. I have a basic trolley with sturdy casters that I have mine seated on while stored and then use it to move it around.
See the Dob Dolly at Orion. The beauty of this one is that once in position you can stabilize it by dropping the risers to lift the dolly so the casters are no longer on the ground and able to move.
Designed for use with 4.5, 6, 8 and 10 Dobsonians, the Dob Dolly provides a rugge… [More]
Cleaning: You’ll need a kit with a soft brush and lens cleaner for maintenance.
Collimation tool: Check out the info I wrote on what you need for collimation of Dobsonians. Options include a collimation cap (also called a sight tube), cheshire, and a laser collimator.
I suggest you include at least one stargazer’s guide. Here’s one that I recommend, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere:
- Nightwatch, a Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson (available at Amazon). This book contains sky charts and has a spring binding and so is practical for use on location.
- Astronomy Australia Year Guide to the Night Sky by Wallace, Dawes, and Northfield includes all sky maps and much more information for stargazing down under
You’ll find more in my list of recommended books.