Somewhere out there: Beginners guide to astronomy

words Al Woods

guide to astronomy

Looking up at the night sky with its different constellations and stars glimmering before you can turn into a lifelong passion. Watching celestial bodies may be a great pastime activity, but have you thought about turning it into a real hobby?

Astronomy could seem like a difficult field to delve into. So, if you have recently thought about taking up astronomy but do not know where to start, just check out the next few points for a comprehensive beginner’s guide.

Learn More

This might seem easier said than done, but the first thing you should always do when you want to take up a new hobby, especially one that is a bit complex like astronomy, is gaining more knowledge about the field. Astronomy can be a scary field to explore; after all, some people choose it as a major in college! However, do not let that discourage you because your goal should be learning more, not becoming an expert astronomer. So, head to your public library and stock up on books. You can find magazines that include a map of the sky for each month and different books for all levels, which can be a great source of information when you are still a beginner.

Get Out Of The City

If you live in a populous city with a lot of light pollution, then chances are that you will not be able to see the stars and constellations clearly. In case you cannot get out of the city, start with the moon, as it stays visible even when there is light pollution, so you can learn about its phases and monitor its progress throughout the month. When you are ready for a clearer view, go to a place with no light pollution like the countryside where you can take pictures of the sky. Taking pictures using the fixed tripod method is a great hack for beginners who do not have much experience in astrography. All you need is a manual single-lens reflex (SLR) camera and a tripod to keep the camera in place. This method can give you beautiful photos of star trails that you will be proud to show off to your friends and family. When looking for locations where you can stargaze, always look for a place that gives you a wide view of the horizon away from bright light sources. Also, use high elevation to your advantage to get a clear view of the sky. So, you can stargaze from the top of a hill or a high building.

Buy The Right Equipment

Having a high-end telescope can be a dream come true for any astronomy lover, but you do not have to go all out and break the bank to enjoy your new hobby. Binoculars make for an awesome substitute for beginners, and they are cheaper as well, so it is a win-win situation! Opt for binoculars that spot large front lenses and high optical quality for better viewing. When you are ready for more advanced gadgets, consider getting a high-end telescope. Buying a telescope is a huge investment, though, so make sure to read reviews and compare prices to get the best value for money. Generally, you need a light telescope that you can carry easily. Getting a telescope that sports a big aperture can be tempting, but as a beginner, you should worry more about accessibility. There are also models with built-in computers and motors that can help you spot celestial bodies more easily, which can be a good option if you are willing to splurge on your new telescope.

Make It Fun

Watching the sky on your own can become a bit repetitive over time, and it is up to you to keep it fresh and interesting. So, why not have fun while learning about different constellations? Most constellations have stories, such as Orion the Hunter and Andromeda. Most of these stories focus on ancient Greek culture, which can offer a great learning experience. Not only will this make you excited to learn more about the stars and celestial bodies, but it can also help you impress others with your knowledge! Moreover, you can join an astronomy club in your town to find other amateurs like you and share your experience with them.

Astronomy is a big field, but you can explore it at your own pace if you have the patience and the passion needed. As a beginner, you need to get the right equipment like binoculars and telescopes, stock up on books and star maps, and get away from bright light sources to get a clear view of the sky. Once you find your groove and gain more knowledge, stargazing will be a totally different experience!


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