YOUR FIRST TELESCOPE: HOW TO CHOOSE

YOUR FIRST TELESCOPE: HOW TO CHOOSE

For those who are curious about astronomy or nature observation, a telescope can be a great investment. However, it is important to know all the details of these devices before making any purchase, to make sure you get the right one for your needs.

Telescopes are mainly divided into two types, according to their purpose: astronomical or terrestrial. As the name suggests, astronomical telescopes are designed to observe the sky, planets, the moon, constellations, etc., while terrestrial telescopes are used to observe nature, be it landscapes or animals.

Both types have different characteristics in their design, aperture, manufacture and more, which is essential to take into account when choosing which one to use. Generally speaking, what you should be clear about when buying a telescope is what you want to see, and from there, make your decision.

 

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ASTRONOMICAL AND GROUND-BASED TELESCOPES

ILLUMINATION

As mentioned before, astronomical telescopes and spotting scopes are available on the market. Astronomical telescopes are mainly used to see everything related to space, and are mainly used at night. For this reason, they have large apertures to let light in, to get a better view even in low light.

ENHANCE

However, there are more aspects in which they differ. The main one is magnification: that tool that allows us to see things more closely. Naturally, we are much closer to wild animals than to stellar bodies. Therefore, astronomical telescopes are distinguished by their high magnification.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ASTRONOMICAL AND GROUND-BASED TELESCOPES

MOBILITY

Another differentiating factor between the two is the ease of transport. As a rule, terrestrial telescopes are much lighter and easier to move. This makes them more practical for wildlife observation.

VERSATILITY

On the other hand, terrestrial telescopes tend to be more versatile because some of them can also be used to observe planets, although not with the same quality as astronomical telescopes.

This is the opposite of the other type, which due to its general characteristics will not provide you with a good experience when observing nature.

 

ASPECTS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT AND MODEL RECOMMENDATIONS

LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY

Although there are quite expensive telescopes, you can also get excellent quality for a good price. Of course, this point conditions in some cases the quality of the telescope you can find tukif.

Regarding this point, the aperture is one of the key factors. The larger the aperture, the better the quality… and that will come with a much higher price. Ideally, look for the largest aperture within your budget.

However, if you are a beginner, the minimum should be 70-80mm, while a more professional one is 150mm to 300mm.

 

IF YOU ARE ALREADY A PRO, TAKE THIS INTO ACCOUNT

In this case, you must also decide whether you want a refractor, reflector or catadioptric telescope. The latter are the ones that use both lenses and mirrors, so they generate a much sharper image, but they tend to be the most expensive.

With refracting telescopes, which use lenses to transmit light, you can see close objects (both terrestrial and in the sky, e.g. moon and planets). They are very easy to use, and require no maintenance. Reflectors, which are for viewing distant, deep-sky objects, use mirrors, and do require more maintenance. However, they are usually cheaper.

IF YOU ARE ALREADY A PRO, TAKE THIS INTO ACCOUNT

When buying an astronomical telescope, it is also important to consider a finder, which is a device that helps to search for planets or stars. In that sense, usability is important, i.e. how easily the telescope can be mounted, among other things. Also, an astronomical telescope generally does not need much movement, but a terrestrial telescope should be light and handy to move.

 

THE BRAND DOES MATTER

Among the astronomical telescopes for beginners that we recommend are: Astronomico Upchase, TNTY telescope, which is ideal for children and young people; the Bresser Solarix, which comes with a solar filter; Seben Star Sheriff, which is more professional. While among the most recommended spotting scopes are: Gosky 20-60×80, Celestron Ultima 65, Svbony SV28 and Vanguard Endeavor HD 65A.

 

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THE WEBB TELESCOPE REDISCOVERS THE UNIVERSE

THE WEBB TELESCOPE REDISCOVERS THE UNIVERSE

Since its commissioning, the incredible James Webb Telescope has allowed us to see the universe as never before. On 5 September 2022 it offered its first images to the world, demonstrating the immense capability of its infrared-sensitive technology.

Thanks to its unique configuration and location, just under 2 million kilometres away at the L2 Sun-Earth Lagrange point, it can capture images of the observable disc of Mars, spaces never before seen in such high quality detail.

Its photographs and spectra now allow scientists to study very short-term phenomena that previously seemed unattainable, such as dust storms, weather patterns and even seasonal changes.

 

THE KEY CHALLENGES

There is no doubting the immense capability that James Webb brings to modern science. However, it was not easy to arrive at this result.

To understand the issue, let’s reflect a little on our interstellar neighbours: the moon, the stars and, of course, Mars. There is no doubt that the Red Planet xxx is one of the brightest objects in our space firmament. After all, it is easy to see it even at night with no other tool than your eyes.

This presents an incredible challenge for researchers using the James Webb Telescope, as the light emanating from this celestial body is extremely high, while the original James Webb configuration is intended to capture extremely faint light from much more distant galaxies.

To circumvent the sensitivity of the James Webb and avoid “detector saturation”, special techniques had to be developed and applied in the observing process. One of the measures was, for example, to take only a part of the brightness of Mars for very short exposures. In this way, it is possible to perform the analysis.

 

THE LONE STAR

Several pictures from the James Webb Telescope have already been trending on social media. Stars, galaxies and celestial bodies are available to our eyes for the first time in incredible resolution.

However, one of the most surprising discoveries for scientists comes not from a gigantic planet or a distant galaxy but, instead, from a single, solitary star shining hundreds of light years away: Earendel.

Or shone, more precisely. After all, the fact that we can see its light right now means that millions of years ago that light was probably already extinguished.

THE LONE STAR

According to the scientists’ analysis, it is very likely that we are looking at the few remaining remnants of Population III, the first stars that emerged in the Universe after the Big Bang.

According to current knowledge of these ancient celestial bodies, they are thought to have consisted only of primordial hydrogen and helium. The reason? No other component or material existed in nature or space.
Therefore, the brightness of this lone star gives us insight into the origin of the heavier atoms that would later form as the result of nuclear reactions triggered by other celestial bodies exploding.

According to the information available so far, it is estimated that Earendel, which we see today as a small, solitary star, had a mass 100 times larger than the sun, as well as a temperature of 20 000 degrees Celsius. This is the reason for its brightness, with a slight bluish hue.

Even so, as it is not a supernova, we should not be able to see it from our position. Therefore, we have a strange and fortuitous coincidence to thank for its recording.

 

 

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RECOMMENDED ASTRONOMY BOOKS

RECOMMENDED ASTRONOMY BOOKS


We are tiny and insignificant beings when compared to the vast and immeasurable universe. For this reason, and for many other reasons, it is normal for us to feel curious about what lies beyond the limits of planet earth.

If you are one of those who is very passionate about astronomy, do not miss this list of books that you should have in your library.

 

5 ASTRONOMY BOOKS YOU NEED

1.‘THE UNIVERSE IN YOUR HAND’ – CHRISTOPHE GALFARD

Known as the modern Stephen Hawking (he was one of his best students, really), Galfard possesses a very vast insight and comprehension of our universe. Therefore, he is able to address the theoretical material that helps us understand how it works with a very accessible approach.

His book summarizes the story of the creation of the cosmos xxx with a vocabulary that even a teenager could easily assimilate. And the best thing is that he tackles everything. From the classic to what sounds like science fiction: inter-dimensional travel, black holes and adventures in space-time.

 

2.‘AT SKY SKY’ – DAVID GALADÍ-ENRÍQUEZ

The book that occupies the second place in this list stands out not only for its splendid theoretical content. But also for its visual support material.

The pen of David Galadí-Enriquez, who is currently a doctor in astrophysics, allows us to learn about the functioning of the atmosphere, the northern lights and meteorites with the photographic support of Juan Carlos Casado, famous throughout the world for his photographs of the sky .

Although it is not an easy book to read, we are sure that you will be able to find its value even if you are an amateur on the subject.

 

3. ‘PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR THE AMATEUR ASTRONOMER‘ – BOURGE-LACROUX

We think the name of this book describes itself very well. If you are one of those who are just beginning to discover the mysteries that the sky has to offer, we recommend you start here.

With a speech that combines technicalities and casual language, the author takes us on an educational journey into the interesting theoretical and practical world of astronomy.

With discursive singularity and a magnificent ability to synthesize knowledge, this book addresses everything you need to know to stop calling yourself an “amateur”: how to position a telescope, how to observe planets, what to do to be able to observe the sun, lunar and planetary photography techniques. , etc.

5 ASTRONOMY BOOKS YOU NEED

4. ‘ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY’ – THIERRY LEGAULT

If the previous books caught your attention because of their great visuals, this one will blow your brain! And what is better: it will incorporate a new hobby into your life that you can enjoy for life, only with a telescope and a reflex camera.

This guide teaches you in a didactic way the necessary techniques to photograph many elements of our wide universe. Among them: constellations, meteors, comets, eclipses, etc.

 

5. ‘THE UNIVERSE IN A CUP OF COFFEE: SIMPLE ANSWERS TO ENIGMAS OF SCIENCE AND THE COSMOS’ – JORDI PEREYRA

Those who know this book must surely still remember it. Unlike other photography guides or theoretical books, Pereyra’s work takes us through astronomy in the best style of ‘Ciencia de Sofa’, his blog on astronomy, physics, geology and other sciences.

His goal is to pose accessible, easy-to-understand answers to the biggest questions about the universe, with hilarious prose and speech. 100% recommended.

Which of these books caught your attention the most? We want to read your opinion in the comments.

Astronomy facts

 

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Applications to Look at the Stars in the Sky

Applications to Look at the Stars in the Sky

Good news to stargazers, locating and identifying celestial objects is much easier than it was a few years back. You would require a telescope, a clear night sky, and a telescope to identify space objects in the past. Only astronomers and passionate enthusiasts had access to these resources. Telescopes are pretty expensive. Today, you can observe the sky without needing a telescope; numerous iOS and android apps can help you watch the sky for free or for a minimal fee. Here are some applications to help you look at the stars in the sky.

 

 

5 Applications to Look at the Stars

1.SkySafari

The SkySafari is a revolutionary astronomical app that allows you to hold your phone towards the sky to identify stars, planets, constellations, and satellites. The app is available at $5 on iOS and free on Google Play Store. SkySafari has the largest database of astronomy features and events porno, including all solar system objects ever discovered; it can show you what the sky may have looked like in the past thousands of years and how it might look in the future. The app has incomparable accuracy, smooth telescope control and augmented reality mode.

 

2.Star Tracker

Applications to Look at the Stars in the Sky

The Star Tracker will show you 88 constellations, the sun, moon, planets, and more than 8 thousand deep-sky bodies in real-time. Thanks to the 3D compass in the augmented reality mode, the app can point to the position of the objects that you search. The app packs information about the twelve zodiac constellations to help you see the patterns and six famous deep-sky objects. The graphics feature on the app enhances the constellation for a better view. There is a free version of the app with limited features, but you can upgrade to the full version for $3. The no-ads version is available at $1. With the pro version, you enjoy the Time machine and dark mode features on the app.

 

3.International Space Station (ISS)

ISS app does not technically show you the stars. However, you can use it to view planets and the International Space Station itself. The app, which is free for android and iOS, always keeps track of the international space location above the earth. Once you set your location, the app can tell you how frequently you can expect to view the space station in the sky and the duration of viewing. The viewing time is quite short because the ISS travels at about 17,100 Mph. The app will also tell how long it will take for the subsequent viewing of the space station in your location.

 

4.Sky View

Look at the Stars in the Sky

The sky view app is available at $2 on android and $3 on iOS with a free lite version for both platforms. It is easy to use; you just point your gadget towards the sky and start identifying stars, planets, constellations, galaxies, and the international space station. The Sky View app has augmented reality and night mode features, which allow you to use it comfortably at any time. With the sky path feature on the app, you can track the exact location of objects at any time. Furthermore, the sky view boasts a time travel feature that lets you view how the sky looked and how it might appear in the future.

 

5.Star Walk 2

Star Walk 2 uses your smartphone’s sensors and GPS the sky’s map in real-time, including the location of planets, stars, comets, satellites, the international space station, and constellations. Do not worry if you are unsure where to start; just click the Visible Tonight feature, and you are good to go. The feature will update you on all the upcoming astronomical events and celestial bodies visible in your location. The What’s New icon will inform you of the forthcoming events, while the astronomy calendar allows you to watch the sky’s appearance on the date you specify.

 

 

 

 

Useful tips for aspiring astronomers

Some people frequently gaze into the sky and wonder how the world works. Some wonder what the next scientific discovery would be. While some persons have a faint knowledge about what astronomy is, others know more than a few things. Astronomy is challenging, but it may also be stimulating and fulfilling. Whether you are a new-comer or you have been around for a while, there are some things we think you should know.

What Astronomers Do

Many people are not new to the word ‘πορνο,’ but few know what astronomers do except that they look at stars through telescopes. However, while astronomers spend some time seeing outer space, they spend much more time analyzing data, developing theories and making research proposals. There are somewhat few available astronomy positions, and this makes it very competitive.

Education

Usually, there is a need for a Ph.D. to become an astronomer, however, you can begin preparations from high school by engaging with physic and math courses. Chemistry, computer science, and other sciences will be helpful, too. You may eventually choose to study astronomy, physics or astrophysics, however, physics and astrophysics are more integrated studies of astronomy and physics.

Starting Your Astronomy Career

Many astronomy students, especially those who want to research further their education. Most astronomers work up to a Ph.D. in their areas of study. After the Ph.D., astronomers usually take up temporary jobs that help them build their experience in the field.

After the postdoctoral position, astronomers may find work at universities, observatories, laboratories, government agencies or in private industry. The majority find work at universities or in government positions. In 2016, 40% of astronomers worked at an educational institution. NASA and the Department of Defense are the biggest government employers in the field. Federally, as well as privately, funded research laboratories also hire a lot of astronomers.

Developing focus

Throughout their career, many astronomers have a focus. They usually have one or more topics on which they write. As a rookie, you may not have any yet but as you attain expertise, you must begin to channel your interest in the field to know where your contribution will most lie. Many times, this area of focus comes naturally as you conduct researches.

Also, ignore anyone saying that astronomy is one of the easier sciences. Astronomers work a lot with computers and must be good at their math and physics. Some astronomers even build their own instruments, so you can also learn about machining and other skills.

Types of telescopes

Here is a better description of Newtonian and Cassegrain telescopes:

Newtonian

A Newtonian telescope is illustrated in the picture above, and in the one next to a refractor. Newtonian telescopes are named after Isaac Newton, who pioneered the design. In a Newtonian scope, light comes in through the open ended tube, and hits the primary mirror. The primary reflects this light to an angled, smaller mirror (called the secondary mirror) which reflects the light at 90 degrees though the focuser and the eyepiece.
Newtonians have one major disadvantage: because of their optical arrangement, images are always inverted, and so they are not well suited to terrestrial viewing.

Cassegrain
Cassegrain telescopes also use a primary and secondary mirror, but the light eventually gets focused out the back of the tube, like in a refractor.
As in a Newtonian, light enters through the open tube, and strikes the primary mirror. The light is then reflected to the secondary. However, the secondary is mounted in braces at the other end of the tube, and is mounted in such as way as to reflect light back towards the primary. The primary mirror in a Cassegrain has a hole in the centre, that allows the light to pass through it, into the focuser, and up through the eyepiece. The arrangement looks the same as the catadioptric telescope below, but there is no lens involved.

Reflectors are well suited to deep space work. While they can provide fine views of the Moon and planets, contrast is not generally as good as a refractor, due to the secondary mirrors and their holders partially obstructing the light coming in. However, when looking at star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae, reflectors can really use their larger aperture to advantage. My own scope is a 152mm (6″) Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount. Newtonians on a Dobsonian mount are often just called “Dobs”..

 

Catadioptric
Catadioptric scopes use a combination of a lens and mirrors. There are several main types, but the two most common designs are the Schmidt-Cassegrain (illustrated), and the Maksutov-Cassegrain.

Catadioptric telescopes mix the best qualities of refractors and reflectors.

Catadioptric scopes are suitable for use in terrestrial and astronomical viewing, show all types of objects well, and are especially useful for photography.

Apertures usually vary from 90mm (3.5″) to 406mm (16″). Most commercially made telescopes are 90mm (3.5″), 120mm (5″), 178mm (7″), 203mm (8″), 254mm (10″), 305mm (12″) and 406mm (16″).

Schmidt-Cassegrain (SC)
SC telescopes are the most common design of catadioptric telescope. Light enters the front lens, and is slightly focused towards the primary. The primary reflects the light to the secondary, which in turn sends it through the hole in the primary to the focuser, just like a Cassegrain (i.e. the only real difference is the use of a front lens).
The corrector (front lens) tends to receive special multi coatings that give it a distinctive colour (such as a deep purple on telescopes manufactured by Meade Instruments Corporation, one of the largest SC manufacturers in the world).

Maksutov-Cassegrain (MC)
MC telescopes are similar in principle to the SC design, but there are two substantial differences. MC telescopes use a different design of corrector: a concave lens that is specially coated and double sided. The mirrors are also curved strongly. The other difference is the use of internal baffles (shrouds around the secondary and a ribbed tube in front of the hole in the primary) that cut down on stray light and provide precision focusing. The big advantage of MC telescopes over other reflectors is that they are very accurate, and only very rarely require the optics to be collimated.

As has been already partially been explained, catadioptric scopes show virtually all objects (stars, planets, star clusters, galaxies, comets, nebulae etc.) well, and are perhaps the most solid all round design.
ACCESSORIES

First, a couple of definitions and an explanation:

Focal length (FL) is the length of the light path from the objective to the point where the image comes into focus. Different telescopes (or eyepieces) have different focal lengths.
For example, some refractors have a 700mm focal length and others 1000mm. Having a longer focal length usually means a longer telescope tube, but it also allows for higher magnification.

Focal ratio is the focal length divided by the aperture of the objective.
For example, a 700mm FL 60mm refractor has a focal ratio of f/11.6. The lower the focal ratio is, the greater the field of view will be. It will also be possible to take astronomical photos with shorter exposure time. Low focal ratios mean that a telescope is “fast”. However, lower focal ratio telescopes are more sensitive to accurate collimation.

Magnification is exactly that – magnification. Unlike binoculars, which (usually but not always) tend to have a fixed magnification, magnification in a telescope is highly variable, depending on what eyepieces are used. See eyepieces below.

Eyepieces
The most obvious and essential accessories for a telescope are eyepieces. Eyepieces come in a variety of focal lengths. Some come as little as 4mm (high power) or as large as 56mm (low power), where power refers to what kind of magnification you get.

As explained in the definition of focal length, telescopes with longer FLs can have higher magnification. For example, lets compare 700mm and 1000mm refractors.
A 700mm FL telescope with a 6mm eyepiece has a magnification of 116x (700mm FL / 6mm eyepiece). With a 56mm eyepiece, the magnification would be 12.5x.
A 1000mm FL telescope with a 6mm eyepiece has a magnification of 166x. With a 56mm eyepiece, the magnification is 17.8x.

Most telescopes come with at least one eyepiece if you buy commercially. However, it is best to build a collection of eyepieces to give you varying magnifications. Most of the time, you will actually use lower powered eyepieces if you live in the city, because of distorted seeing. Too much magnification can lead to a blurred image, and so is not necessarily a good thing (see the Misconceptions Page).

As well as eyepieces, you may want to investigate a barlow lens. A barlow is a device that effectively alters the power of eyepieces, so a 6mm eyepiece would effectively be a 3mm eyepiece if a 2x barlow is used. If we use the above examples, magnification would be 233x in the 700mm refractor, and 333x in the 1000mm. This example is a bit extreme, since most small refractors cannot resolve an image clearly above a magnification factor of about 50-60x per inch of aperture.
However, using the barlow with the 56mm eyepiece would give magnifications of 25x, and 35.6x respectively, which would deliver good views indeed.
One caveat about barlows: because they halve eyepiece FLs, it is possible to effectively wind up with two eyepieces the same. For example, If you have a 25mm eyepiece, and a 12.5mm eyepiece, putting a 2x barlow with the 25mm would be another 12.5mm eyepiece (25mm eyepiece / 2x barlow).

Eyepieces come in one of three common sizes (diameter of the barrel), to fit in different sizes of telescope focuser.

.965″ eyepieces are commonly designed for small refracting telescopes. However, the views are not as good as with 1.25″ diameter eyepieces, though they are cheaper.

1.25″ eyepieces are a common size on all types of telescope. They are a good compromise between price and performance.

2″ eyepieces are the most expensive, but potentially provide very wide fields of view.

Eyepieces themselves are generally one of several designs or sub designs, depending on their optical arrangements. Some use fewer elements of lens, some more. The three designs below are frequently used by astronomers, but are not the only types.
When considering eyepieces, you will need to consider two other things: eye relief (how far back from the eyepiece your eye will be when you can see the image filling up the eyepiece), and exit pupil (width of the light path from the eyepiece to your eye). For example, a 40mm eyepiece with 20mm eye relief and 5mm exit pupil means the eyepiece is designed for you to see the whole field of view when your eye is 20mm from the eyepiece, and the picture reaching your eye will be 5mm wide. Because everyone’s eyes are different, this information is best used as a guide when choosing eyepieces. People who wear glasses would be better off choosing eyepieces with a long eye relief.

Kellner eyepieces are generally the simplest, cheapest, and lowest quality design. Nevertheless, they are useful for astronomy on a budget, and lower powered eyepieces can provide good views.

Plössl eyepieces are what some would consider mid-range, but they also extended into the high end (quality) eyepiece range. They usually provide wider fields of view and a clearer image than Kellner eyepieces, but also cost more.

Othoscopic eyepieces offer fine images and have frequently been high end, with a price to match.

Motor drives
Motor drives can be placed on equatorial mounts to effectively drive the telescope for automatic tracking of an object across the sky. Most run off the mains, a car cigarette lighter, or batteries. On certain advanced telescopes however, such as the Meade LX200 (see the Going Further page), the standard altazimuth mount is motorized.

Filters
Filters are coloured attachments that are either used with an eyepiece or placed over the end of a telescope tube to block out different types of light. Different filters block different light wavelengths, and so have different applications. There are too many types of filter for me to explain here, but filters are commonly used when viewing nebulae (to block city lights / ambient light reflecting off the atmosphere, called light pollution), the Moon (to block out glare – it’s very bright), and for viewing the Sun (light is almost totally blocked. Don’t look at the through a telescope otherwise for obvious reasons!).

Photographic attachments
I will explain these more fully on the Photography Page. Telescopes can have film cameras attached to them via camera adapters. Most CCDs (Charged Coupled Device – see the Photography Page) can attach directly to the telescope focuser. There are also automatic guidance systems, which will also be explained.

Finder scopes and Telrads
Finder scopes are usually shipped with telescopes, but I mention them here because it is possible to get larger and better performance ones than are shipped with many telescopes. Finder scopes are small mini telescopes (of sorts) that are attached to the side of the real telescope. When searching for an object, it is better to use the smaller, lower powered finder scope to locate the object you want to view. It has a wider field of view than the main telescope (typically), and has crosshairs to help you centre the object.
Telrads perform a similar function to finder scopes, but work entirely differently. A Telrad is like a heads up display. It looks like a small TV screen of sorts, and projects a red (usually) bullseye onto the sky. The bullseye will be over the centre of the object you wish to view.

Erect image diagonals
When you look through a telescope such as a refractor, the image appears to be back to front. An erect image diagonal is designed to correct this problem giving an image that is oriented the right way around. This is important for land viewing, but less important for astronomy where there is no up or down, left or right.

Dew Shield
The last major accessory I want to deal with is a dew shield. While observing, dew builds up on telescope optics during cold nights. This causes fogging of the lenses, which can be detrimental if not removed (it can damage optical coatings and performance over the long term). The job of a dew shield is to help slow down the build up of dew, so you have more observing time before having to stop and save your scope. Dew shields fit over the front of the telescope tube assembly. Refractors generally come with them as part of the assembly, but they are extra items for other scopes.

SUMMARY
There is no “best” type of telescope per se. A lot of it is horses for courses. A large aperture telescope is best for all types of objects, but a small refractor is portable, simple, and good for planets, and casual deep sky work (don’t expect great images!).

Each of the three main kinds of telescope and their sub types have their own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, you might decide to build your own, which is the most cost effective option. Check with your local library or astro society for books and information on telescope making.

As always, try before you buy, if you decide to purchase. I waited for six months after getting into astronomy before I received my first telescope. I joined a club, started learning the sky, began using binoculars, then after evaluating my wish list and trying out several telescopes, I bought mine.

Despite there being no “best” telescope for beginners, there are appropriate choices. A small refractor is usually a good choice. I was thinking about buying a porno gratis myself, until I realized that if I got a bigger one, I would be able to see so much more, with what would be (for me) a lifetime investment.

So, after a good deal of thinking, I decided to go for my second choice: a 6″ Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount. While it is more expensive, I have found the views more than make up for the cost.

Introduction

Astronomy is one of those hobbies in which it is easy to spend a lot of money up front and then find your interest is waning.
There is no set way to start out, but to help prevent being burned, here is one procedure where you can learn astronomy from the ground up (so to speak :-)), and spend little, if any, money.

Step 1: JOIN A CLUB!
Joining your local astronomy club is the first step; not only will you get advice and assistance from its members, but they may also loan you equipment  and materials. Don’t be afraid to ask “stupid” questions; the members will be glad to help.
Many clubs meet at an observatory, which may have access to a library, where you can find books and magazines for learning the sky, amongst other things. 
Speaking personally, my local Astro Society meets at an observatory. It has a library where members can loan out books and periodicals for free. Members also receive free training on how to use the Observatory’s main telescope.
Clubs frequently hold beginner’s classes or evenings, which give plenty of good information on starting out, with demonstrations and discussions on various topics. 
Most clubs also host xporn star parties at dark sky sites, where you can try out other people’s equipment to get a good idea about what you can really see through binoculars and telescopes.
Various magazines such as Sky & Telescope periodically publish listings and contact details of clubs, if you are not sure about any clubs local to you.

Step 2: LEARNING THE SKY
After joining a club, you should begin learning the sky. You can start doing this before joining a club, but I recommend the club first. 
Constellations and some deep sky objects are visible with the naked eye. Binoculars will show many fainter objects such as galaxies, and other objects will appear brighter and with more detail. Of course, a telescope shows the most. 
When I first started, I found the constellation Orion with little difficulty. From there, I just worked my way around. 
The first thing you need for learning the sky is a set of star charts / books, magazines, a planesphere, or planetarium software (all are discussed later).
Before you start to go out observing, it is a good idea to set targets for the night: make a list of what you want to see, and when you find it, make a record of its position and the date / time, and if you like, a sketch. Once you have found a constellation or an object, it is easy to locate it again, and you will probably find that you learn other ones quite quickly. You will not need to know the whole sky of course, but the more you know, the easier it is to find objects.

Step 3: MATERIALS FOR LEARNING THE SKY
There are many books, magazines, and practical aids that will help you learn the sky. These are discussed on the Essential Materials page.
Step 4: ARRANGE YOUR EQUIPMENT
Once you have put the effort into learning the sky, you will be ready to begin using optical aids: Binoculars and telescopes. 
These are discussed on the Equipment Page.