Welcome to the Stellafane resource page for beginners in amateur astronomy and telescope making. Look here for pointers in getting started and links to similar topics on other web pages. If you're a beginner and have a question that's not addressed here please let us know (just send an e-mail to the Webmaster, address in page footer). Thanks!
by "Stargazer" Steve Dodson
If you're thinking about buying a telescope for the holidays for that young astronomer in your life we suggest you read the following article about getting into astronomy.
Making the Most of Your First and Every Night
With Your Own Telescope: Learn the Sky
It's important to have an idea of what to expect the first time you go out to observe the night sky. Regardless if you're observing with a telescope, binoculars or just with your eyes, not knowing what to expect can make observing the night sky difficult and disappointing. "Stargazer" Steve Dodson presents an article about the preparations you ought to make before you venture out to study the night sky.
To become an experienced amateur astronomer, you must learn how to "observe" not only the astronomical objects buy also the sky conditions. "Stargazer" Steve Dodson presents an article about how to familiarize yourself with the sky.
A: See Sky & Telescope Magazine's page on How to Buy a Telescope. A good way to to see a variety of telescopes being used is to attend a Star Party given by your local astronomy club. To find out how to contact an astronomy club in your area check out Sky & Telescope's astronomical directory or Astronomy Magazine's directory of Clubs and Space Places. You might also want to look over Sky & Telescope's Visual Observing page to learn about the art of using a telescope, how to choose telescope magnification or how to use a star map.
Instead of purchasing a telescope you might consider getting a set of binoculars for starters. Binoculars are easy to use and are a great way to learn the sky! They require no set-up time and tend to be much less expensive than a telescope. Many amateur astronomers find binoculars to be a wise investment when they are just starting out. Binoculars will help you get experience with the sky and help you to decide if you really want to make a larger investment in an expensive telescope. Sky & Telescope also offers good advice on Choosing Binoculars for Stargazing.
SOME BOOKS ON BINOCULAR ASTRONOMY
A: The best way for a beginner to learn the sky is with a PLANISPHERE. With a planisphere you can dial in the date and time and it will show you the sky at that instant. This will allow you to identify the stars you see in the sky at any particular time.
A: Astrophotography, for the most part, is for amateur astronomers with some experience. If you're just starting out in amateur astronomy, you should first learn the sky and become experienced with observing the objects that you wish to photograph. If you believe that you have acquired sufficient experience observing the sky that you which to try your hand at astrophotography, then a list of popular books on the subject follow.
SOME BOOKS ON ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY
A: We have mentioned a few Amateur Astronomy magazine web sites in the answers above. The actual magazines provide a wealth of information, and all have advertisements for vendors that offer planispheres, books, binoculars, telescopes and accessories. In North America, there are currently four major magazines you will find available:
The Springfield Telescope Makers provide information and links to various astronomical vendors
for the convenience of our readers but does not endorse any individual vendor.