Refractor Telescopes

Products reviews and general guides for the amateur and hobby astronomer.
Helpful hints and tips for first time telescope buyers.

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Beginnerís Guide To Astronomy

Astronomy is potential fun for your entire family.  One or more of you can get involved in astronomy together and decide how much time and money you want to expend on the hobby.  In the beginning, it doesn't require a lot of outlay, but merely a big sky full of stars and a vast amount of curiosity.

Many people begin without a great deal of experience or a lot of equipment and pick it up as they go along and their skill and experience grow.  You can potentially begin astronomy using nothing more than the naked eye to begin getting comfortable with the night time skies and learning about the constellations and stars.

Probably the best way to start is to find a very dark area, get your eyes used to the night time and begin to seek out the stars and find the constellations that you are familiar with.  The constellations and other objects can be found with a decent star chart, which in many cases you can download from one of the free astronomy sites on the internet.  You really do need to start this way.  A telescope has a very limited range of view.  If you're not able to find something as basic as the little dipper constellation with your naked eye, the chances are not good that you will find it with your telescope.  Get comfortable with the constellations and the night skies before you sink your money into a telescope.

If the idea of viewing the night skies at that point still seems like something that has captured your interest, then you're advised to get a reasonably priced beginning telescope and some star charts and get out there and get moving.

So what are you going to need in the beginning?

**Clothing suited to your outdoor night time climate (This may mean something warm or something thin and cool which will keep the bugs at bay while you scope out a night time sky, depending on where you are located in the world.)

**a Beginners telescope--A 6" Dobsonian reflector scope, made by many companies is inexpensive, often found for under 300 dollars, but is good enough to give you some early success in finding things. That early success is whatís going to feed your enthusiasm. You don't want to spend a major amount, but you also don't want a cheap toy store variety. It will disappoint you and probably discourage you, while the former, super expensive and very large model isn't even something the guys who have done this for years want to play with. They want something easy to carry and easy to move. Companies that you might find a great beginning scope from are Celestron, Meade, and Orion. The Orion Skyquest weighs in as the best for beginners according to the experts and still offers a reasonable price of about 300 USD.

**A pair of binoculars--Sounds a bit crazy but any amateur astronomer is going to tell you to get a good pair of binoculars. Youíre going to need them repeatedly, to take a fast glance at something prior to trying to find it in your telescope.  Get a decent pair since you probably won't replace them in the immediate future.  They tend to be often used but don't need replacing often.

**A weather radio or weather cube.  It's impossible to relate how many times even the most seasoned astronomer has gotten into their car and driven out to see something amazing in the heavens, only to find that the skies were so cloudy they weren't seeing anything and the rain was falling on their unprepared head. Check the weather before you head out.

**Star charts are going to be imperative for you as a beginning astronomer.  They will tell you essentially where it all is.  Star charts are guides to the night time sky for the astronomer.  Once you get the lingo and the hang of viewing star charts, youíre going to be far better able to plot out what you want to see on any given night.

Multiple sites online will offer you great star charts free of charge simply because they are amateur astronomy enthusiasts too. Take advantage of them to keep your initial costs low.  A couple very good ones are listed elsewhere on this site.

Like any other hobby, expect that you will want bigger and better equipment as you grow in experience.  It goes without saying doesn't it?

Refractor Telescopes 2012