Your Guide To Cleaning Your Telescope Mirror At Home

The large James Webb Space Telescope boasts a primary mirror of 21 feet and 4 inches, which requires a specialized snow cleaning due to its size in order to keep it functioning properly.

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While the average sized telescope mirror doesn’t require anything quite this complex, careful cleaning is still necessary in order to keep the telescope functioning in top condition. Whether you recently purchased your telescope or you’ve have had it for some time, knowing how to properly clean the mirror from time to time can greatly enhance your stargazing experience.

What products to use

Cleaning a telescope is different from cleaning anything else in your home, so it’s important to use the correct products to ensure that you’re safely cleaning your mirror. While telescope cleaning kits are available, you can gather your own supplies at home, which are easy to find and especially great for those who experience allergies, as they don’t include any harmful fragrances or perfumes that can cause irritation. Items such as distilled or deionised water, paper towels, cotton balls/pads/swabs and unscented dish soap can all be found in your local grocery store, and are all you’ll need to successfully clean your mirror.

The process

Start by washing your hands; then take the mirror apart from the rest of the telescope (without touching the face of the mirror, as the oils from your skin can damage it). After separating the mirror from the rest of the body, the cleaning process officially begins with running it under tap water. This allows for any loose dust, dirt or hairs to be easily removed. Next, use a small amount of the dish soap to clean your mirror more thoroughly with a cotton ball, pad or swab.

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It’s important to do this step gently, and make sure your nails don’t hit the face of the mirror (to prevent any scratches). After you’ve washed the mirror, you can rinse it with tap water again. Following that, you’re going to want to use distilled water to rinse your mirror once more, which can ensure that all minerals from the tap water are removed.

Finally, allow your telescope mirror to dry. You can prop it against an object to air dry, and then carefully remove any excess water with a paper towel by blotting it against the surface, as doing so will prevent any streaks that could affect performance. Once your mirror has completely dried, you can then reattach it to your telescope. However, if your mirror seems to be especially dirty, feel free to repeat the process, and even soak your mirror for a short period of time – though keep in mind that you should never rub, scrape or push on the mirror’s surface while cleaning it.

Don’t clean it too often

While you may be tempted to clean your telescope mirror as often as possible, cleaning it more than needed can actually lead to substantial damage that can affect how the telescope works as a whole. In fact, cleaning your mirror should only be a rare occurrence – or when you notice a significant amount of fingerprints, dirt or grime. So, if you notice just a bit of dust, don’t fret, as it can easily (and gently) be blown off with compressed air.

Cleaning your telescope mirror might sound like a delicate and daunting task, but it can be easily done right at home with a few simple items from the store. By carefully cleaning your telescope mirror every so often, you’re sure to see the planets, stars and the moon clearer than before.

Supplied bySally c/o sally@diamondmail.net

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