Beginner’s Guide To Astronomy

In this beginner’s guide to astronomy we offer some advice for getting started and buying your first telescope. It’s always easy, with the rush of enthusiasm that accompanies a new hobby, to spend more than is necessary, so we hope this short guide will put you on the right track and save you some unnecesseary expense.

Astronomy is a fascinating field of study that can be pursued at any age. The whole family can get together to stargaze, and your participation can vary from unaided view of constellations to using high-powered telescopes for a more up close and personal view of the planets and the Moon.

Beginner's Guide To Astronomy

Beginner’s Guide To Astronomy

The easiest way to get started with your astronomy study is by spotting constellations. A simple book or online guide to show what constellations are easily visible at the current time of year in your country is enough to get you underway. Start with the easier constellations, such as Ursa Major or Orion, then move on to some that are a bit more difficult to pick out. A seasonal study of how the constellations move in the sky from summer to winter will add a deeper dimension to your astronomical knowledge.

Studying the phases of the moon will also increase your awareness of the night sky and how it changes from day to day and season to season. These kinds of exercises can be particularly meaningful for children as they learn the various patterns of the seasons.

Viewing the Moon and planets

It’s possible to get a good look at the moon and some of the nearer planets using binoculars rather than investing in a telescope. If you want to venture into a more detailed examination of our nearer neighbours, but aren’t quite ready to purchase a telescope, use binoculars to get a look at the details of the surface of the moon in particular.

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be easily viewed with the naked eye or with binoculars. With binoculars and a little work, you can generally find Uranus and Neptune. Pluto, however, requires use of a telescope due to its distance and small size.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Collins Stargazing: Beginners guide to astronomy
  • A brilliant introductory guide to exploring the night sky
  • Perfect manual for beginners to astronomy
  • With seasonal star charts, constellation charts and facts about our solar system
  • Royal Observatory Greenwich (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Bestseller No. 2
Astronomy: Beginner’s Guide to Astronomy (2): Resources, stargazing guides, apps and software! (Beginner's Guide to Astronomy)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 22 Pages - 08/17/2015 (Publication Date)
Bestseller No. 3
The Easy Guide to the Night Sky: Discovering the Constellations with Your Eyes and Binoculars (The Easy Astronomy Guides Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bartlett, Richard J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 136 Pages - 04/13/2016 (Publication Date) - Albireo Books (Publisher)

Buying a telescope

As your study of astronomy continues, you’ll eventually want to invest in a telescope. While telescopes are expensive, there are several models that are reasonably priced enough to make them a good investment in your education. Even a low or medium power telescope can greatly increase your enjoyment of your astronomy hobby. Be sure to do plenty of research, though, and be sure you purchase a telescope that will work well and that will last. With the right telescope added to your repertoire, your enjoyment of astronomy will continue growing for years to come.

Buying within your budget

Depending on the size of your budget, the depth of your curiosity, and the seriousness of your habit, there are several key attributes to consider when buying your first telescope: portability, aperture size, and steadiness. There are three principal types of telescope; the refractor, the reflector, and the cassegrain. All telescopes work by taking the available light through what is known as the aperture and reflecting that light and image back to the eyepiece.

The refractor’s aperture is usually smaller than the reflector’s aperture; therefore, a refractor allows you to see the moon and the planets, while a reflector will allow you to look deeper into the cosmos. The diameter of the mirror in the reflector, usually measured in millimeters, will tell you how large the aperture is; in this case, the larger, the better. The cassegrain utilizes two mirrors and a correcting lens, and is often used by intermediate to advanced amateur astronomers.

Magnification, surprisingly, is not nearly as important as aperture size. In fact, magnification is generally better at lower rates due to the amount of light coming in to the telescope; with a weak light source a higher magnification will appear dim and blurry, whereas a lower magnification with the same light source will render the object with more clarity and precision. A magnification between 32x and 50x is generally best. Any higher than this, and in typical nighttime viewing conditions, you will spend more time viewing earth-bound refracted heat waves from the day’s sun than anything in the night sky.

Portability plays an important role in choosing a telescope. If you have a dedicated space in your home for your telescope, then portability and set-up do not play that great of a factor. If, however, you do not wish to store the telescope in a permanent space, portability will play a larger role in determining what telescope to buy. Reflecting telescopes are generally easily portable up to about an 4” mirror, at which point they become increasingly difficult to move. Most refractor telescopes are extremely portable.

Additionally, the tripod on which the telescope rests is of vital importance. A cheap, flimsy tripod will make viewing difficult, if not impossible. A steady foundation is the key to a worthwhile viewing experience.

To enhance your experience, a basic knowledge of the position of notable celestial features is recommended. Most medium-budget telescopes come with something known as a ‘Finderscope.’ Mounted on top of the telescope, the German Equatorial mount version of the Finderscope automatically aligns the telescope to celestial north, a point on the sky designated in celestial maps.

The other type of Finderscope mount is the alt-azimuth version, which allows 360 degree movement on the horizontal plane. Depending on the size of your budget, you can purchase other more specialized computerized finders, such as a “GoTo” scope, which has a pre-set list of celestial points of interest that one can select from a keypad. This “GoTo” feature is usually found in conjunction with the cassegrain telescope, and is not necessarily recommended for the first-time buyer, unless you do not mind investing significant time in the initial set-up.

For tips on where to buy your telescope, there are a few excellent print/online resources. Depending on your geographical location, the U.K.’s Astronomy Now offers a list of specialized telescope merchants, while the United States equivalent is Sky and Telescope. Finding a local astronomy club is also a great way to get first-hand recommendations for telescope vendors. Ultimately, spending time on research will help you to wisely spend money on your first telescope.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Telescope for Astronomy for Adult Beginners - Profesional, Portable and Powerful 20x-250x - Easy to Mount and Use - Astronomical Telescope for Moon, Planets and Stargazing - Includes a 2-Year Warranty
  • EUROPEAN COMPANY WITH 96% SATISFIED CUSTOMER RATING – YOU GET A 2-YEAR WARRANTY - Get a 2-year warranty with your Slokey Astronomical Telescope that ensures you exceptional quality and durability giving you years of enjoyment… Tested by thousands of satisfied customers, YOU are guaranteed to love them… BUY TODAY WITHOUT RISK AND SAVE!
  • BEST SELLER PROFESSIONAL TELESCOPE ON AMAZON - IDEAL FOR ADULT BEGINNERS AND AMATEURS - Trust the #1 brand of telescopes and binoculars... Perfect for astronomical observation of Planets, Galaxies and Nebulae... as well as for earth observation... SUPER POWERFUL for observing every detail of the deep sky with a rugged and stable tripod for steady, adjustable viewing so you can sit while using your telescope... GET THE #1 ADULT TELESCOPE NOW! Translated with
  • EXCEPTIONAL OPTICAL QUALITY - #1 IN QUALITY FOR MONEY - You will get incredible clarity and luminosity with sharp and brilliant images thanks to its excellent optics... You will also get a SUPER powerful telescope lens with a professional design, robust, stable and easy to mount... so you can have a clear vision of the Moon, Planets and Galaxies... Easy to use even for beginners... It will be the perfect gift for any adult beginner or amateur...
  • GET UP TO 250X MAGNIFICATION WITH SUPERIOR OPTICAL PERFORMANCE EYEPIECES - You will get 3 eyepieces of 25 mm, 10 mm and 6 mm that will provide incredible views of celestial objects during the night and terrestrial objects during the day... You will also get a 3x Barlow lens that will give you 3 times more magnification... Offering adjustable power of 20x, 50x, 83x, 150x and 250x to adapt to any situation... Get it Today... Take advantage of this offer
  • ROBUST AND STABLE TO OBSERVE THE DEEP SKY... You will get Clear and Detailed Images of Saturn's Rings, Jupiter's Moons, Andromeda's Galaxy, Orion's Nebula, the Pleiades and much more... You will get a professional tripod made of stainless steel, robust and portable, super easy to set up and use even for a beginner... Get your IDEAL telescope today... 9 out of 10 people who have tried it would recommend it.
SaleBestseller No. 2
ESSLNB Telescope 70070 Telescopes for Astronomy Adult with Smartphone Adapter Adjustable Stainless Steel Tripod Erect-Image Red Dot Finder Scope Barlow Lens Moon Filter
  • This telescopes for adults with 70mm HD large fully coated objective lens, 700mm focal length and latest generation of three 1.25” interchangeable Kellners eyepiece, K4mm(175X), K10mm(70X), K20mm(35X). The optical system will increases light transmission and delivers more bright. So You will get a crisp, bright and no color difference image even in a low light environment. 3X Barlow lens increase the magnification three times. The magnification up to 525X.
  • Usually telescope offers an inverted picture. Our telescopes with 90°erect-image diagonal achieve erect images, offering you better observation than inverted image. Also this telescope for astronomy with Erect-Image red dot finder scope which can help you to find target faster and easier than traditional optical finder scope. This telescope not only fits astronomical watching but also good for landscape watching.
  • Steel altazimuth tripod can be adjusted from about 75cm to 116cm. Locks in solidly, stays right in place for steady images. You can put eyepiece, Barlow lens on the tray when you are not using it. Altazimuth head with a slow motion control pan handle and a compass help you to find planet easily. At or near a full moon period, the moon is too bright to see details due to spotlight effect of telescope. So moon filter improves better observation.
  • Telescope for beginners which can help you to share pictures to social media. The phone adapter can be quicker and easier installation than traditional phone adapter. It can record beauty,acquire knowledge in the astronomy and cultivate students' love of natural science. Constellation Diagram help you to find constellation easily. It is a good guidance for children.
  • Easy to assemble and carry: This refractor telescope is pre-assembled and can be assembled without tools. And telescope can be adjustable by 180 °in the vertical direction and 360 °in the horizontal direction for different viewing positions. Ideal gift for children beginners and amateur astronomers for birthday.
SaleBestseller No. 3
OYS Telescope, Telescopes for Adults, 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount, Telescope for Kids Beginners, Fully Multi-Coated Optics, Astronomy Refractor with Tripod, Phone Adapter, Backpack
  • 【Quality Optics】The astronomical telescope features 400mm (f/5.7) focal length and large 70mm aperture, fully multi-coated optical glass with high transmission, creating stunning images with increased brightness and clarity.
  • 【Variable Magnification】The refractor telescope includes two 1.25" telescope eyepieces (K20mm and K9mm) for 20X and 44X magnification. The 5x24 finder scope makes locating objects easily. And diagonal prism ensures you get erect image, ideal for both celestial and terrestrial viewing.
  • 【Portable for Travel】This travel scope is quick and easy to set up. Comes with a phone adapter with 10mm eyepiece for you to capture the amazing images and share with your family. The lightweight telescope with adjustable tripod can be packed up in the custom backpack. Grab it and go anywhere!
  • 【Satisfaction Warranty】 Reliable and friendly customer service in 24 hours. We offer lifetime warranty. Please feel free to contact us if any problem with the quality of the telescope, and we will make an instant refund or replacement for you to make sure you are satisfied.
  • 【Great Gift Ideas】The telescope is a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for kids or beginner astronomers. It helps them build interest in astronomy and science, exploring the unknown, enjoy the nature and away from screen. The kids' astronomical journey starts from here!

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API