General advice

Jeremy Shears

Hello Donald,

A very warm welcome to the BAA! I am sure you will enjoy your membership experience and with the enthusiasm you clearly have, you will find all sorts of opportunities to get involved in observing. 

It sounds like you are already well equipped with a telescope and binoculars. The BAA organises Back to Basics workshops, the next one being in North Wales, so not the most convenient location for you in Stonehaven. There are lots of observing sections where your observations would be most welcome. The first question to ask yourself is what do you enjoy observing? You mention you have done some variable star work in the past. This is clearly a field where your observations would be very valuable – and you have eminently suitable equipment to hand. One of the simplest places to start is observing binocular variables. The Variable Star Section’s web site has a page on Binocular Variables here:

The section also publishes a booklet on binocular observing, with instructions and which contains quite a few charts. This is available from Roger Pickard, the Section Director, or the BAA Office. There is a page for “absolute beginners” here: 

The Section also publishes an “Observing Guide to variable Stars”, available from the BAA Office.

The VSS also has mentors who are happy to help people starting out: 

Binoculars and small telescopes are also ideal for observing the brighter comets (drawings and magnitude estimates are always appreciated by the Comet Section) and deep sky objects (again send sketches and descriptions to the Deep Sky Section).

Living in Scotland (if I have the correct Stonehaven) means you are well placed to observe the aurora and noctilucent clouds – the season for the latter is upon us now. 

These are only a few ideas and I am sure others can provide info about further sections. And do contact the section directors. They’d be delighted to advise and to receive your observations. Whatever you do – keep asking! The BAA is here to help you further your interest in astronomy.

Go well!