New to Astronomy / Just got your first Telescope???
This section is for the beginner in the hobby! You chose one of the coolest hobbies around that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment!!!
I'm just getting into astronomy, where to I start???
If you are new to the hobby: WELCOME!!! This is certainly a hobby that can spark a lifetime of interest in discovering the universe we live in and passion for an array of different telescopes/equipment! My personal journey in astronomy started when I was about 12 years old when I got my first scope; a Tasco 60mm refractor(saved for working as a paperboy). Over the years I have had the privilege in owning over 100 telescope and more accessories then one can count!
Below is a list of valuable recourses that I wish I had when I was getting into astronomy and buying my first telescope!
What telescope should I buy???
Interested in astronomy and not sure where to star telescope wise?
I Just got my first telescope!!!
If you just got your first scope this is the video to watch for you!!!
I already have a scope, what eyepiece should I buy?
So you already own a telescope and ready to upgrade your eyepiece?
What other astro gear do I need(and don't need)?
So you already own a telescope and wondering what else you need?
What do I point my telescope at and how?
So, you already own a telescope and ready to get outside and use it? What do you actually look at and how? This is the section for you!
There are countless apps and paper recourses to help you locate objects in the night sky! My favorite by far is SkySafari!
If you do prefer paper a couple of very good star atlases that I have personally used for years are:
A great pocket size guide: Field Guide to the Night Sky (National Audubon Society Field Guides): https://amzn.to/3eujRUU
After getting one of the above to be able to find things in the night sky(or using the GOTO of your scope) what are some great object lists to work through? Answer is simple, I would of course start with the Messier objects! Messier object – Wikipedia
I have personally observed all of the Messier Objects and a very large portion of the NGC / IC catalogs and the Messier objects are some of the best in the sky! There are a few that Mr. Messier did miss that are real eye candy type of objects so that is not all there is to see even with a small scope. Once done with the Messier objects I would HIGHLY recommend checking out the observing programs at: The Astronomical League
Awesome Inexpensive book with YEARS of observing lists: Deep-Sky Wonders: https://amzn.to/3XxQ6r9 This is a compilation of articles from Sky and Telescope by Sue French that are a joy to observe and read the commentary. I’m personally still working through this awesome book, and while I have seen many of the objects the commentary still provides a fresh perspective on many of them. Thei is the best sub-$20 you will spend in astronomy!
My Favorites DSO:
I have also compiled a list of my favorite deep sky objects by season. There are all objects that I have observed countless times and can find most from memory. I keep on coming back to these every season because they are so good!
m42 :Orion: – Mag 4 85x60min
m37 :Auriga: – Mag 5.59 14min
Double Cluster(NGC 884 / 869) :Perseus: – Mag 5.3 18min
ET Cluster(NGC 457) :Cassiopia: – Mag 6.4 20min
m31 :Andromeda: – Mag 3.36 178x69min
Blue Snowball(NGC 7662) :Andromeda: – Mag 8.3 .5min
Pleiades(m45) :Taurus: – Mag 1.5 120min
Crab Nebula(M1) :Taurus: – Mag 8.39 6x4min
Carolines Rose(NGC 7789) :Cassiopia: Mag 6.69 25min
Little Dumbbell Nebula(M76) :Perseus: – Mag 10.1 2.7×1.8min
M81/M82 :Ursa Major: – Mag 6.84 / 21.4×11.2 min Mag 8.05 11×5.1min
Beehive Cluster(m44) :Cancer: Mag 3.09 70min
Eskimo Nebula(NGC 2392) :Gemini: – Mag 9.19 .8x.7min
m65/m66/NGC 3628 :Leo: – Mag 9.22 7.6×1.9 Mag 9 10.2×4.6min
m35 :Gemini: Mag 5.09 40min NGC 2158
Whirpool Galaxy (m51) :Canes Venatici: – Mag 8.1 13.8 x 11.8min
Black Eye Galaxy(m64) :Coma Berenices: Mag 8.43 10.5×5.4
Owl Nebula (M97) :Ursa Major: Mag 9.8 3.4×3.3 M108
Markarian’s Chain(m86) :Virgo: – Mag 8.81 11.5×8.3min
Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565) :Virgo: Mag 9.22 16.6×2.9min
m13 :Hercules: Mag 5.78 20min
m57 :Lyra: Mag 8.8 1.4×1.1min
Cats Eye(NGC 6543) :Draco: Mag 8.1 .4x.3min
m3 :Venatici: Mag 6.19 18min
m5 :Serpens: Mag 5.65 23min
Double Double :Lyra: Mag 5.0 2.2sec 2.4sec
m92 :Hercules: Mag 6.4 14min
m101 :Ursa Major: Mag 7.9 24×22.9min
NGC 6210 :Hercules: Mag 8.8 .3x.2min
m102 :Draco: Mag 9.89 6.3×2.8min
Eagle Nebula(m16) :Serpens: Mag 6.4 35x28min
Swan Nebula(m17) :Sagittarius: Mag 6 46x37min
Lagoon Nebula(m8) :Sagittarius: Mag 6 90x40min
Dumbbell Nebula(m27) :Vulpecula: Mag 7.09 8×5.7min
Blinking Planetary(NGC 6826) :Cygnus: Mag 8.89 2.1min
Wild Duck Cluster(m11) :Scutum: Mag 5.8 32min
Coathanger(CR 399) :Vulpecula: Mag 3.59 89min
Saturn Nebula(NGC 7009) :Aquarius: Mag 7.8 .5x.4min
Vail Nebula :Cygnus: Mag 5 300min
NGC 40 :Cepheus: Mag 10.6 .6x.6min
Log / Sketch Your Observations
Keeping a log and/or sketching your observations is an excellent way to track your progress in the hobby. Sketching the objects that you see through the eyepiece will help you see more detail in them as it forces you to actually study what the telescope is showing you! These are the observing logs that I use personally. Figured I’d share them with the community!
What about astrophotography?
Not sure if you want to do visual or astrophotography? Check out the video below. Know that you want to get into astrophotography? Check out AstroBackyard: Beginner Astrophotography Tips: How to Get Started (astrobackyard.com)
Must Bookmark Recourses
Ok so you have the basics down, where do you go from here? Well get out and use your scope! LOL. One of the best ways to do this is to join your local Astronomy Club!
The must know online astronomy places that I visit all the time:
www.cloudynights.com – Online forums and astro gear classifieds. This one is a must!
www.astromart.com – Astro gear classifieds and reviews. Does cost $15 to do the classifieds but can be worth it if your looking for/selling some gear.
skyandtelescope.org -This is a great magazine but I also enjoy their web site for highlights on current happenings in the night sky!
astroleague.org – Already mentioned above but deserves to be here also. The observing programs here are amazing and will really push you to see all there is to see in the night sky!