Astronomy is a vast discipline—as vast as the universe it aims to understand. There’s a lot to learn, so how do you know where to begin? You could read dozens of articles and watch a few documentaries...or you could just look up. Here’s how to get started with astronomy:
1. Head outside and get familiar with the night sky.
The best way to get into astronomy is to simply observe. Open your door, step outside on a clear night, and look around. Take stock of what you see. What stars are dimmer, and which are brighter? Can you spot the planets? What phase is the moon in? Don’t set any agenda or feel like you need to know everything. Practice just being and see what’s there to see.
2. Use binoculars.
After spending some time just observing, get a closer look using a pair of binoculars. You might want to jump straight to a telescope, but it’s a better idea to start out with binoculars to avoid feeling discouraged. Telescopes have a bit of a learning curve, so be sure you want to spend some time tinkering before you invest. Binoculars are easy to use and bring outside, making them the ideal first astronomical observation tools. You’ll be surprised at the amount of detail you can see using simple binoculars.
3. Learn about the planets and stars you see.
So you’ve been outside a few times, looked around, and are now familiar with the sky in your backyard. What now? Now, it’s time to find out exactly what it is you’re looking at. Start with a stargazing app so you can easily discover what that bright speck is or if it’s a satellite you’re seeing cross your field of view.
4. Buy a telescope
The very last step is to buy the key observational tool of every astronomer. It’s a big step, but an exciting one. There’s nothing like seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time, and once you spot Jupiter’s moons you’ll be absolutely amazed. Take your time, do your research, and pick the telescope that suits your needs. Then head outside and get ready to see the universe in a whole new light.