So you have decided that you want to take up astronomy. Many do! It’s a fascinating hobby after all. Many take up astronomy because their interest has been fired by a TV documentary which introduces them to the wonders of the heavens. Others become interested after talking to an avid amateur astronomer, and get bitten by the bug of wanting to look at a closer view of the stars and planets.
Still others were interested as children, but then lost the interest, only to have it rekindled in later life, perhaps by seeing a TV documentary, talking to an amateur astronomer, or maybe just one day looking up at the night sky and being bitten with a longing for those long-forgotten childhood pleasures of discovering the universe.
So the next step is, of course, to go out and buy a telescope. Or is it? Here’s a strange piece of advice, think of a pair of binoculars first. Why? Because, quite simply, a good pair of binoculars will allow you to see much of what you can see with a telescope. And a good pair of binoculars can often give a better view (a much better view in many cases) than a cheap telescope.
This is because binoculars have a wide field of view and allow you to navigate the sky very easily. Many great things can be seen with binoculars, including hundreds of thousands of stars, many of the most striking star clusters and most of the planets of the solar system. You can also see much of the detail of the moon, including craters and mountains.
But eventually you will want a telescope. And as with all purchases, the best thing to do is ask an expert which is the best one. And where do you find experts? At your local astronomy club, of course. Ask the members about the pros and cons of the different telescopes. Every telescope has its advantages and disadvantages. With the experience of a pro under your belt you’ll be able to buy the telescope that’s right for your viewing needs.