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Astronomy 101

Backyard AstronomyYou do not need a telescope. Some astronomy is best done with the naked eye or binoculars (7X or 10X are fine). Here are some examples: variable star observing, meteor counting, large celestial objects (i.e. planets, Moon, and Beehive Cluster), and last, but definitely not least, comets.

So the best way to start out, is to get a star chart. A star chart can be found in the latest issues of Sky & Telescope and Astronomy. Since you're just starting, you might want to pick up Astronomy first. Then go out and learn the constellations and stars.

Go to a star party! This is a good way to learn about the hobby. At star parties, you will find knowledgeable astronomers who know the difference between a star and a planet. Not only will they give you tips, but they may also let you look through their telescopes or binoculars. Sometimes there are even refreshments, and if you are a college student like me, almost anything is a good excuse for free food and drink.

Once you've learned some constellations, watched some meteors, and looked through a telescope or two at a star party, then you're ready to decide if you want to invest in a telescope. Below is a list of articles that might be helpful:

  • "Choosing a Low-Cost Telescope" Sky & Telescope December 1993
  • "Three 6-inch Dobsonian Reflectors" Sky & Telescope December 1996
  • "Buying the Best Telescope" Sky & Telescope December 1997
One of the most important things to consider when buying a telescope is not magnification so much as apperture or light gathering ability.

Happy Stargazing!

Originally contributed by former AOAS member Jodin Dunbar

Astronomy 101 | 1 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Astronomy 101
Authored by: Anonymous onWednesday, June 25 2003 @ 12:45 pm EDT
A lot of open star clusters, such as M6 and M7, actually look better with binoculars!

R Parks

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