A Beginners Guide to Astronomy

Getting started in amateur astronomy can be confusing. What telescopes do I need? How can I find and identify stars in the sky? These are all questions that you may think of when starting out.

The best way to get started in astronomy is to visit a local astronomy society meeting. Most societies hold meetings at least once a month and they can be very informative. You also get to meet like-minded astronomers who will be able to give you advice on telescopes and can show you how to find your way around the night sky.

Attend a Society Meeting

Find your nearest astronomical society and attend one of the meetings. You will be able to get advice on how to get started from people who know how.

Borrow your First Telescope

Don't go out and buy a telescope straight away. Your local astronomy club should be able to provide you with one that you can borrow. There is no point in spending money until you know that you are fully interested in the subject.

If you have a set of binoculars you can use these to get started. Sometimes binoculars are actually better for closer objects as the field of view is better.

Attend a Observing or Dark Site Meeting

If you local society has a Dark Site they may organise regular viewing observing sessions where you can come along and use the society telescopes. This is the perfect opportunity to be shown how to use a telescope properly and how to find stars.

Download an App for your phone

It is always best to learn how to navigate the night sky without the need for aids or go-to telescope mounts. However, if you are new to astronomy and cannot find the star or planet that you are looking for, or are interested to find out what object you are looking at, you can try downloading an app for your phone.

There are many free and paid for apps available for iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets. A great free app for Android is Google Sky Map. It is free to download, and also has a night mode, which makes the screen easier to see at night without ruining your night vision.

Get Some Astronomy Books

Borrow some books from your society, or buy astronomy books so that you can learn more. There are some great books for getting started in astronomy. Your society should be able to recommend books that you will find helpfull.

Find Astronomy Websites

The internet is full of websites related to astronomy. From official websites of NASA, The European Space Agency, etc. to websites dedicated to amateur astronomy.

You can also find out information on astrophotography and many other subjects related to astronomy on the internet. There are many videos on websites such as Youtube that are all about how to get started in astronomy.