The telescope is one of the most wondrous inventions humankind has ever created, at least in my opinion. It allows us non-NASA folk to have our own cosmic adventures, albeit they will still be from the surface of Earth. Wherever we are in the world, we can pitch up our telescopes, aim them at the sky and have a gander at what the universe has to offer us. But let’s face it, the weather isn’t always ideal for telescope viewing. It can rain, it can snow, or it can be just too damn cold! A potential solution is that we use our telescope from the comfort of our home, where it is nice and warm. Or not? Is it actually possible? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know and consider.
So, can you use a telescope through a window? You can use a telescope through a window. However, your view will probably be distorted (especially if the window is closed). However, an open window will still likely result in distortion due to conflicting air currents. Light pollution is another factor that will likely result in sub-par views.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can improve your view when using a telescope through a window.
And we will be taking a look at these shortly.
But first, let’s talk about what is actually possible here.
Can I Use My Telescope Through A Window?
You can use a telescope through a window, but your view will be distorted. This is the case when viewing through a closed window or an open window. The factors that cause this distortion are glass types, differing air currents, and light pollution.
You can use a telescope through a window if you like. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it.
When you’re using a telescope to explore the cosmos, you want as good a view as possible.
Now, the quality of your telescope will play a huge part here, but the environment you use it in is a massive factor as well.
Let’s go through each problem there is with using a telescope through a window.
Closed Window/Glass Types
Using a telescope through a window may be a nice environment for you to explore the cosmos.
You get to stay nice and warm, make yourself a tasty drink whenever you want, dig into a snack whenever you want, go to the toilet whenever you want, the lot! Home comforts are not to be underestimated in their value.
But there is a big problem with using a telescope through a window, and that is that your view of the night sky will be distorted.
Why? It all comes down to the glass in the window!
Hang on! The telescope lens is made of glass as well!
Well, yes, you’re right.
Telescopes use glass lenses, but it’s a very different type of glass used.
It is glass used to see objects millions of miles away in the cosmos. In contrast, the glass in your window is used for glaring at the neighbor’s cat that keeps sneaking into your backyard.
There is a discrepancy between the quality of glass used in your window and the glass used in your telescope. The lesser quality in the window disrupts the quality of light the telescope receives.
So by using your telescope through a window, your view will be distorted.
Think about it. Have you ever looked out of the window at something, then opened the window? Notice the slightly clever view?
Now, you might think that the solution is to just open your window and poke your telescope out through it for a better view. But you’d be wrong…
Open Window/Differing Air Currents
Alas, there is a different obstacle that needs to be overcome now in this case.
When you use a telescope through an open window, you are connecting two very different air and temperature environments.
Inside your house, it’s warm. Outside your house, it’s cold. Of course, this is the case if we’re talking about winter.
These very different air currents will clash outside the space where your telescope is positioned, which surprisingly will also distort your view.
Closed or Open Windows/Light Pollution
Artificial light is also an issue, whether you’re using your telescope through a closed window or an open one.
You see, artificial light causes light pollution, which hinders the viewability of the night sky.
If you’re looking at the sky in a heavily built-up area, then the amount of light pollution will be much higher.
It will therefore be harder to see the night sky and discern objects within it.
On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to live out in a peaceful rural area where there is much less light pollution, then the visibility of the night sky will be much better.
If you do live in an urban area where there is lots of light pollution, yet you still want to view from a window in your house, then you need to choose the right window to view from.
Pick a window that faces away from the majority of the artificial light surrounding you, your house, and the neighborhood.
Sure, you might not be able to see your original intended target, but at least you’ll be able to see something!
Factors That Impact What You Will See When Using A Telescope Through A Window
Factors that will impact what you will see when using a telescope through a window include the time of day and the temperature.
Time of Day
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking through a window or whilst located in the middle of an open field; the time of day is crucial.
Basically, the darker the sky is, the clearer cosmic objects will be.
So, looking through a telescope during the early evening will be harder than looking during the middle of the night.
So try to partake in your home-based cosmic exploration as late as possible in the night, as that’s when the sky will be at its darkest.
As we discovered in the previous chapter, using a telescope through an open window combines two conflicting air currents with different temperatures.
This creates a distorted view of the cosmos.
So, if you are using your telescope through an open window, you will need to consider the conflicting temperatures of the two environments that are combined.
What you need to aim for is two environments that, when combined, have a similar temperature.
During the winter, it’s not really ideal to allow your home to become as cold as the outside temperature.
But during the summer, it’s almost inevitable that your house will heat up to be a similar temperature to outside.
By this logic, using a telescope out of an open window would work best in the summer.
Suggestions When Using A Telescope Through A Window
I would suggest that when using a telescope through a window, you make sure your windows are sparkling clean, choose the right room to view from, and try to prevent any dew from forming.
Clean Your Windows
Pretty self-explanatory. The cleaner your windows are, the better your view out of them is with the naked eye.
The same is the case when using a telescope through a closed window.
It’s also important that you make sure the room you are viewing from is dark as well.
Choose The Right Room
Now, you will be limited by the layout of your house. But trust me, there will be one specific room in your house that is better suited for telescope viewing.
A sunroom with plenty of windows would be ideal so that you have plenty of access to the night sky.
A room that is semi-insulated will also be preferable as it will keep that room less warm.
If the room is less warm, there won’t be as much of a conflict between the outside temperature and the inside temperature when viewing through an open window.
I personally have my telescope positioned up in my attic, where I observe the cosmos through a skylight.
If you don’t have such a room, I would suggest you find the least insulated room in the house with the most accessible views.
Cold conditions can cause dem to form on the windows but also on your telescope’s optical glass.
You can prevent dew from forming by using electric dew warmers.
The view through a telescope will always be best when you’re outside with a perfect view of the whole night sky whilst there’s no light pollution.
But getting outside isn’t always easy.
Sometimes, we really do just need the comfort of our own home.
And there’s no problem with that. You can still use your telescope at home through a window, whether it be closed or open.
And guess what? The view you will see of the cosmos will still be pretty amazing.
After all, telescopes are a wondrous invention that is capable of producing wonderful sights beyond our imagination.
Other guides you may want to check out:
- Can You Use a Telescope In The City? [Is It A Waste Of Time?]
- Can You Use A Telescope During The Day? [You’ll Be Surprised]
- How Far Can You See With A Telescope? [It Depends On This…]
Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.