Home Intro to the Night Sky Intro Classes Asteroid Belt Astro Essentials Using Both Eyes Using a Planisphere Astro Distances Comets Constellations What To Look At? Meteors Stars vs Planets Dictionary Our Solar System Satellites Eclipses Mythology


Intro to the Night Sky
Intro Classes
Asteroid Belt
Astro Essentials
Using Both Eyes
Using a Planisphere
Astro Distances
What To Look At?
Stars vs Planets
Our Solar System

The hobby of Astronomy is fun and awe-inspiring. It is fascinating to gaze up into the night sky and recognize the constellations, and which planets are visible. The beauty of the night sky is there for anyone who wants to explore it...but how do you get started?

"Getting Started" in amateur astronomy describes many of the concepts and physics the amateur astronomer needs when they first start out.  All of the essentials are covered!

Stop by the next meeting of your local astronomy club.  Youíll meet many amateur astronomers  who share your curiosity of the night sky.   Thereís nothing like a chance to ask your questions of other amateurs!

The easiest way to start out in astronomy is with a clear evening and by using your eyes.  No telescope is required!  Go out in the evening with a small light and a copy of your favorite astronomy magazine turned to the section identifying the constellations.  With a little patience, you will soon be picking your way through the patterns of stars in the night sky. With a little practice over several evenings, you will be able to quickly find your way among the starts, and probably know the names of a few of them.

 After this, itís time to borrow a pair of binoculars. What a difference even a little magnification can make! It can be overwhelming to see so much detail.  Hereís a tip if you get Ďlostí - just take your view away from the binoculars and use your eyes like you did when you started out, and then use the binoculars once more.  Many amateurs prefer the view through binoculars and use them exclusively. You may want to read Astronomy Magazine or Sky & Telescope Magazine.  Both are great sources of information and can guide your learning.  Read the page called Astronomy Essentials.  Make sure that these concepts are like second nature to you.

If you have decided at this point that a telescope is in your future, itís definitely time to ask the opinion of experts! Come to an AVAC meeting, stop by and talk with the great people at King Photo, or look up the subject on the websites listed on the Buying Telescopes page BEFORE you buy!!  If you get the wrong telescope for what you want to do with it, you will be unhappy each and every time you go out. Talking with an expert first can really make the difference.

If you already have a telescope, it may need a Ďtune-upí.  If you have a reflecting telescope (mirrors) the optics have to be aligned precisely and often for good views of the sky. Itís easy to do and members of the AVAC will be glad to tell you how to do this. If you have a refractor (lenses) no alignment is usually necessary. Clear Skies!!