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Chapter 4. Accessory Hacks > Hacks 44–65

4.1. Hacks 44–65

We sometimes think that the popularity of a hobby depends on how many accessories you can buy for it. Hunting, fishing, golf, woodworking, photography, art, model trains, birdwatching, camping—just about every popular hobby offers lots of opportunities for accessorizing. On that basis, it's no surprise that amateur astronomy is very popular indeed.

In perhaps no other hobby is the divide between how many accessories you need and how many accessories you wantso pronounced. What you need is a telescope, two or three eyepieces, a red LED flashlight, some charts, and a dark place to observe. What you want, well, the sky's the limit. Well-to-do amateur astronomers sometimes spend thousands of dollars—even tens of thousands—on accessories. (We confess that we're guilty of some excess; our most expensive accessory is an Isuzu Trooper SUV that we've dedicated to storing and transporting our observing equipment.)

Fortunately, you don't need to spend a lot of money to be well equipped for observing. The trick is to know how to choose accessories that provide the maximum bang for the buck. That doesn't mean buying a lot of cheap accessories, either. It means choosing a few good-quality accessories that pay off in usefulness all out of proportion to their cost. It also means making do with what you have, doing inexpensive upgrades and modifications that greatly improve utility at minimal or no cost, repurposing inexpensive products to substitute for expensive, specialized astronomy products, and learning to take advantage of the full features of each accessory you add to your kit.

In this chapter, we'll look at how to choose, use, build, and maintain essential astronomy accessories (and a few non-essential ones, but don't tell your spouse that…).

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