No matter whether you’re someone who enjoys grabbing a pair of Binoculars in the UK and heading out to a dark spot to gaze up at the stars, or whether you’re someone who takes stargazing seriously and has invested in a powerful telescope, astronomy is a wonderfully rewarding hobby or pastime for people of all ages and abilities. In fact, even as an amateur stargazer, you can make contributions to the world of astronomy that are genuinely useful and significant, something not often possible among the other sciences.
However, many people simply observe the night skies because they enjoy the thrill of seeing star clusters, planets and nebulae for themselves. While the majority of astronomical objects seen through a budget telescope, cannot be viewed in as much detail as they would by someone using larger, professional equipment and devices, even amateurs with an eye for stargazing, can capture some remarkable results using CCD imaging and photography.
If you’re a novice astronomer, or are considering taking it up as a hobby, here are some helpful hints for getting started:
Familiarise yourself with the sky at night
You might not know it if you’re completely new to astronomy, but the night skies can change significantly according to the time of night, and the season, and how you observe the sky can also give you a different view.
To help you get the most out of the skies depending on the weather, time of night and time of year, you can use a planisphere, otherwise known as a sky guide or some kind of software to guide you.
Buy yourself a telescope or binoculars
Many amateur astronomers who simply want to enjoy looking at the night skies, and who don’t necessarily want to take their hobby into professional boundaries, might find that a pair of high end astronomy binoculars are good enough for their needs. Additionally, a good pair of binoculars can be used for other hobbies such as birdwatching, or simply for helping you spot wildlife and points of interest while on nature walks. While you can purchase a pair of binoculars with higher magnification, you should be aware that this will inevitably increase their weight and their bulk, and could make them less convenient to carry around with you. Not only that, but the bigger and heavier the binoculars are, the more difficult they are to use without the support of a tripod or similar such stand.
For those who take astronomy a bit more seriously, on the other hand, and who are interested in pursuing it as a career or full time hobby, a telescope would be a wise investment.
Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable telescopes available today, and it’s worth keeping in mind that while a more expensive telescope with higher magnification will undoubtedly give you a clearer view of the night sky, it might not be a sensible investment if you’re not yet ready to get the most out of it as a novice astronomer.
Getting started with astronomy is as simple as getting out there and gazing up at the stars, but if you want to develop it as a hobby that you can really get something out of, it pays to know what you’re looking at (or what you’re looking for), and to do so with a good pair of binoculars or a mid-range telescope.