Welcome to all who are interested in astronomy, but are unsure how to start! Beginning astronomers will normally have a set of questions, such as:
- What telescope should I buy?
- What about those late-night TV ads for telescopes?
- Where can I go to see the sky?
- How do I know where to look in the sky?
The first rule in beginning astronomy is: Do not spend any money!
Find a local astronomy club and start attending their meetings. The club members will be happy to share their experiences with the different kinds of telescopes. Most clubs also periodically get together to observe the night sky. You can look through their telescopes to get a better idea of what to expect from the different designs (and price levels).
Go to your nearby library and look in the Periodicals section for magazines such as Astronomy or Sky & Telescope. These monthly magazines contain a chart showing what the evening sky will look like each month. This includes the brightest stars, the planets, the Moon, and other objects viewable in a modest amateur telescope. Many amateur astronomers subscribe to one of these magazines.
The night sky is free, so begin by using the monthly charts to learn your way around the sky. Soon you will be comfortable recognizing the planets and brightest stars and constellations.
At this point you will be better prepared to buy a good set of binoculars or a basic telescope. For more thoughts on all this, see the articles at right. They have all been written by LCAS members and are intended to help the beginning astronomer.