Directions for Telescope Volunteers


  • Arrive when the Telescope Coordinator asks you to be at the observatory.
  • Set up and know how to operate your assigned telescope.
  • Know how to find your assigned target objects in the sky with your telescope.
  • Know some basic details about your target objects. See Observational Resources and Handy Facts.
  • Answer attendee general questions on astronomy, physics and science.
  • Positively represent the University, the Department, and our profession.
  • Note: If there is bad weather, your Telescope Coordinator may cancel the event; however, do not assume it is canceled due to clouds.


  • You should be contacted by your Telescope Coordinator the week of/before the event with a reminder and telescope/target assignment.
  • Using our Observational Resources and Handy Facts websites, learn about your target and how to find it in the sky.
  • Make sure you are comfortable using the telescope to which you are assigned. Go up to the roof and practice and/or review the setup instructions located on the telescope.
  • Arrive when the Telescope Coordinator asks you to be at the observatory.
  • Carry out and set up your telescope.
  • If it doesn't conflict and you're interested, you can watch the film (or much of it), but you *must* be ready to observe when the Telescope Coordinator asked you to be there. Note: you will not get paid for the time spent watching the film.
  • When operating the telescope, make sure you are in focus and pointed at the target object (objects drift without tracking). Offer attendees and opportunity to see the target and explain what it is.
  • At the end of the session (determined by the Telescope Coordinator, but generally an hour or hour and a half after starting observing), please fully shut down your telescope (put away eyepieces, turn off telrad, put portable telescope back in transit room, etc.). Check with your Telescope Coordinator before you leave.

Observing Notes

  • Remember, bigger focal length on an eyepiece means bigger field-of-view (FOV). Usually you want one big FOV (26mm-40mm) and one small FOV (6mm-15mm), but it depends on your target object.
  • Do not lose the eyepieces, eyepiece cases or lens caps! They are expensive and hard to replace. Do not just put them in your back pocket, because you will forget them.