Getting started in Astronomy
If you’ve ever looked up to the stars and wondered what lies beyond them then getting involved in astronomy could be a great way of learning more about the universe, and with over 300 billion stars in our own galaxy alone there isn’t a shortage of things to discover.
Getting started in astronomy couldn’t be easier these days with a wealth of expert information readily available on Internet. So from star charts to choosing the right telescope, here are the basics available online for any budding stargazers.
What is astronomy
Plato said “Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.” while NASA state it as simply a “the study of stars, planets and space.” Since the dawn of man we have looked to the skies in wonder but it wasn’t until the sixtieth century with the development of the reflective telescope and the rise in prominence of the “father of the modern observational astronomy” Galileo Galilei that our understanding of the universe began to develop.
And now with websites like NASA’S Youtube channel, offering lectures as well as live events there has never been a better time to discover the secrets of the universe.
Knowing your telescope
If you’re serious about astronomy then you’ll want to buy a telescope – it can become costly, but if you’re only beginning there are a couple of options for the astronomer on a budget.
As essential as a telescope will become, there is no rush in buying one immediately. Using binoculars before you plunge into the market can be a great way of learning the basics before you splash out the cash.
Find the best binoculars and other reviews at space.com
When it comes to the telescope, just like buying a car or computer, every model is widely different and offers unique features, so it is essential to find one that will fit your specific requirements.
Join a community
Spending your nights in field in the dark may seem like a lonesome pursuit, and that may be part of the appeal, but there are plenty of forums online where you can discuss recent events and learn more on your journey to becoming a complete stargazer.
The BBC’S Sky at Night Magazine is a fantastic resource with articles, reviews of equipment and an active forum if you are looking for any expert advice.
Sky and Telescope offers similar resources and also includes an event calendar where members can place notifications of their own plans and you can even post an event yourself if you want to gather a crowd.
Download an App
Perhaps seen as a bit of a cheat for the more traditional stargazers, but there are some apps that can pinpoint any constellation at a click of the button.
Sky Map available for free on Android devices shows the position of every star on the screen as you hold it up to the sky and it even has a time travel feature that can show you how their positions have changed over the centuries.
Apple users can get a similar experience with Pocket Universe app available for £2.29.
Visit the Dark Skies Park
There’s really no place better in the UK than a dark skies park if you are looking for clear star-filled skies. Northumberland offers 1,483 square miles, the largest area of protected night sky in Europe, for any budding astronomer to explore.
It is also home to the Kielder observatory, which is open all year round and offers expert lectures from experienced astronomers and access to the powerful telescopes.
Of course anywhere outside of the major cities is great if you’re looking for an area with little light pollution and a country retreat could be a great holiday for the whole family.
Have you thought about becoming an astronomer?
Silversurfers Features Editor
Latest posts by Silversurfers Features Editor (see all)
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!