Ian,

#579497
James Dawson
Participant

Ian,

Welcome.

Yes, there is a lot to get your head around. 

I would advise finding a local society to get involved with. They probably hold regular meetings and star gazing events. If you email me your nearest city I can have a look online and see what groups are near by. 

I wouldn’t rush to make any decisions about buying equipment or deciding what sort of amateur astronomer you are. Go with the flow as they say. 

There are plenty of books to read and magazines and forums [fora]. 

Learning your way around your own night sky is a great place to start with practical astronomy. The major constellations, and any visible planets. A bog standard pair of binoculars are useful for looking at some of the brighter targets in the sky, such as globular clusters and open clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy. Binoculars are also useful for getting a closer look at the Moon. 

If there is a meteor shower coming up, that is always fun to observe, ideally on a sun lounger in a sleeping bag or two!

If you are hands on and like tinkering with either mechanical things or electronics there is so much tinkering to be done with equipment and the like, and again lots of fascinating stuff to read. Or maybe you are so hands on you’d like to build your own telescope.

I enjoy reading. I don’t enjoy getting cold. I have various telescopes but I don’t have a permanent set up, so I don’t use them as often as I should. Many believe an observatory isn’t a luxury for an amateur astronomer, it is an essential tool. I like imaging the planets and the Moon, and showing non-astronomers things through the telescope like planetary nebula or globular clusters. I’m also interested in the history of astronomy, and like reading about the goings on several hundred years ago, as well as from the 19th and 20th centuries. 
The BAA Journal has some fascinating content and as a BAA member you can look through past copies of the BAA Journal on the website. The Journal also contains sky notes to help you learn more about the night sky. The members pages are great for looking at things others are up to, and if there are things you want to know more about you can either leave a note on peoples observations, or start a thread on the forum.

It will be very exciting for you.

Welcome and enjoy.

James