Getting Started in Astronomy

Amateur astronomers observe the crescent Moon and Mars in the constellation Taurus. Credit: Babak Tafreshi

It didn’t used to take equipment to enjoy the night sky. And it still doesn’t. But it can sure help.

We know humans have been gazing at the stars for thousands of years. Every culture has myths about the heavens handed down through generations. We assume our prehistoric ancestors did as well. The night sky is still there, waiting for you to discover it, beyond the glow of our modern cities’ artificial lights.


Naked eye viewing is still rewarding – learning the constellations, observing the Moon’s phases as it circles the Earth, watching the planets motions around the Sun. But now we can explore far more of the Universe than our ancestors ever could have imagined. If you’re interested in astronomy, you’re going to start shopping for binoculars or a telescope sooner or later. That’s when information overload sets in.

Those of us at AstroGear Today have been sharing astronomy with others and helping beginners for decades. As I said in a previous blog post, things aren’t as simple as when as when I got started. That’s a big reason why we created AstroGear Today.

Here are some articles from astro-gear guru Ed Ting that will help you get started:

Buying Your First Telescope

Comparing Telescope Types

A Closer Look at Reflectors

A Closer Look at Refractors

A Closer Look at Catadioptric (Compound) Telescopes

And from AstroGear Today’s Managing Editor, science journalist Elizabeth Howell, here are a few things to do:

Five starting activities for binoculars or telescopes

Sure, there’s much more to learn about – eyepieces, software, accessories, getting into astrophotography and more. We cover it all, and I’ll be highlighting each area in this blog. But don’t rush it. There’s plenty to learn and explore from day one. Start with the basics and get started looking up.

Your personal universe is about to expand more than you know.

Is there something you’d like us to review, explain, or write about on AstroGear Today? Write to me at [email protected].


About Mike Simmons

Mike Simmons has been an amateur astronomer outreach program organizer for almost 50 years. He is a past president of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and was co-founder and president of the Mount Wilson Observatory Association, He co-chaired the 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy 2009, and is founder and past president of Astronomers Without Borders.

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