Basic steps that will help you learn the cosmos
1. Learn the night sky with the unaided eye
These programs will help you identify objects that are up in the night sky on a particular night, find interesting objects that you would like to look at, and find out more information about an object you have found.
- Stellarium: A free program for desktop and laptop computers of any kind.
- Star Chart: A free app for iPhones and iPads, Android, and Windows phones and tablets.
- Sky Map free app for Android
There are numerous other programs that you can download with much more powerful features for your computer or phone, but these are a good place to start.
2. Get a good beginners guide book
The internet is filled with information. But with a good book, you can’t go wrong. Some suggestions:
- Turn left at Orion
- Astronomy for dummies
- Backyard astronomy Guide
3. Start with a binocular
Binoculars make an ideal “first telescope” especially a 7 x 50 mm binocular.
- They show you a wide field of view, making it easy to find your way around
- Binoculars are relatively cheap, easy to carry and store.
- Increase eye contrast with 40% compared to a telescope
4. Dive into maps and guidebooks
Once you have the binoculars, the first thing you want to observe is the moon. It’s an easy target, then the Milky Way. But then it’s over. Now it’s time to get a more detailed sky map for binoculars. With a binocular and the detail sky map you will find the following:
- Star clusters and double stars
- Jupiter’s moons
- Moon mountains and craters
5. Seek out other amateurs
Here you can contact people who are enthusiastic about the hobby and are willing to share their knowledge with you. Follow our Facebook page and co-Facebook page:
6. When it’s time for a telescope, plunge in deep
After you have passed the 5 first steps, you know it’s time to buy a telescope. There are three types of telescopes: Newtonian/ Dobson, Refractor and Schmidt-Cassegrain.
The essential of the telescope:
- A solid mount.
- Good quality optics.
The choice of telescope is based on several points:
- What field you want to start in.
- The bigger the aperture the better, don’t forget about the portability and convenience.
Starting with a GOTO computerized telescope will only make you do it in autopilot, without learning the basics. For Astrophotography, a GOTO computerized telescope is a must.
7. Lose your ego
Astronomy involves having patience. Not everything will work the first time. You’ll hunt for some wonder in the depths and miss it, and hunt again, and miss it again, which is normal. But eventually, with increasing knowledge, you will succeed. There’s nothing you can do about the clouds that move in to block your view, the extreme distance and faintness of the objects of your desire, or the special event that you missed because you got all set up one minute late. Nature will not bend to your wishes; you must take it on its own terms.
8. Most important, relax and have fun
Part of losing your ego is not getting upset at your equipment because it’s less than perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist, no matter what you paid. If you find yourself getting wound up over Pluto’s invisibility or the aberrations of your eyepiece, take a deep breath and remember why you’re doing this. Amateur astronomy should be calming and fun. The more you look and examine, the more you will see. Set your own pace, and delight in the beauty and mystery of our amazing universe.