So you are beginning your journey to explore the universe but you are not sure how to get started. Here are some commonly asked questions from newbies with answers from our staff:
What kind of telescope should I get?
Buying your first or next telescope is always an exciting time, but it can be bewildering as there is so many types and brands out there. The good news is that most of the gear made by most manufacturers is very good quality, and in most cases represent a great value. To find the right optical instrument, you need to think clearly about what you want to experience with it. Many telescopes can give good views of planets and good views of deep sky objects, and many can do visual work and astrophotography, But if you know what really excites you about astronomy, you can focus on getting a system that is optimized to do what you enjoy most.
In general, we would recommend that you buy or try the largest aperture instrument, that is versatile enough to do what you want to do (e.g. visual observations, astrophotography, or both), that is not too large or heavy for you to take it to an observing site at a moment's notice. These features need to be balanced against what you are willing to pay. Of course it is always better to try before you buy if at all possible.
- Learn more about how to try using a telescope before buying one.
- Learn more about buying your first or next telescope.
In addition to a telescope, you should have binoculars, a red flashlight, star maps, and a guide to learn more about the objects that you find.
- Learn more about choosing and using binoculars for astronomy.
What I should do on my first night out?
If you are intending to go where it is far away from city lights...
What should I be expecting to do?
You should expect to have a relaxing night under the stars and reflect on your place in the universe. You should also practice good star party etiquette. Here is a short guide to follow.
Where should I go?
Should I join a local club to get started?