Instruction manuals, you can't live with them, you can't live without them (or so the saying goes).
They accompany most, but it has to be said, not all equipment and it’s usually in their absence that you find you need them.
A starter telescope for example does require a well written and thought out instruction manual otherwise a beginner could quickly become unstuck.
This is especially true if references are made to specific parts of the telescope that it is assumed the reader already has some technical knowledge of.
Of course when you’re dealing with a GoTo telescopes, imaging cameras or any form of technical apparatus then a good instruction manual is an absolute must if you want to get the best out of your equipment.
But how long will we see printed instruction manuals included in the box? It seems some manufacturers are now providing instructions in digital formats, as a pdf on a cd or even as a download from their websites.
Perhaps this is the future for such things, but I for one like taking a look at a solid, printed sheet so lets hope that for a while longer we will still see them included in the box.
In April’s issue of Sky at Night Magazine an instruction manual was included in my review of the Revelation 25x100 binoculars.
Steve Richards puts the iOptron Smart Eq Pro mount through its paces and Pete Lawrence explores the image processing software Startools.
Paul Money is an experienced astronomer, BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Reviews Editor and author of the annual stargazing guide Nightscenes.