Starting out

Over the years, the British Astronomical Association (BAA) has produced a series of tutorials as a guide for the beginning astronomer. Grouped together here in a logical order these links will take you through the basics of astronomy. Of course, if there is one particular area that interests you, such as choosing a telescope, feel free to cherry-pick the items that interest you most.

The majority of these tutorials were written specifically for the BAA website. However a small number originated with articles in the Journal of the BAA. Some of these latter ones refer to the positions of planets at the time of the articles’ publication. These positions will not now be correct and should be ignored. The bulk of the article however remains relevant and informative.

New tutorials are added frequently. These will appear on the home page and also in this list so be sure to check back often.

The sky above
Naked eye observing
  • Earthshine. Seeing the “old moon in the new moon’s arms”. 
  • The aurora. A guide to observing these potentially spectacular lights in the sky.
  • Noctilucent clouds. Little known clouds of the summer skies.
  • Meteors. Observing “shooting stars”.
Choosing and using a telescope
Finding objects in the sky
Telescopic observing.
Astronomical photography.


The British Astronomical Association supports amateur astronomers around the UK and the rest of the world. Find out more about the BAA or join us.