Finding the best place to start

Forums General Discussion Finding the best place to start

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    Ian Kahler

    Hello Everyone

    Let me  start with the  word…. overwhelmed. Yes  I am feeling like  I have  been let loose  in a  candy store… except the  candy is  the overwhelming amount of information available on SO many aspects or areas of  astronomical principals, or  phenomena.

    Do any of  you guys feel like  this sometimes??? I walked away from astronomy several years ago, and  all but gave up on the  science. Yet at the back of  my mind… in some  dusty corner… I was aware of this inescapable curious little  monster that wanted  me  to come  back. I have  always been interested in binary and multiple stars, and  stars clusters, but lately; since  joining the BAA, and buying the  first of a  series of  books entitled, Annals of  the deep sky, I feel like  my poor old  brain is  just going to explode.

    What do you guys do?? Do you focus on, or find yourself drawn to one  particular aspect of  astronomy? Do you find yourself spinning out of  control with a need to absorb everything? Or is it common to encompass everything?

    I need to establish a  pattern and  stick with it… right now  I find myself feeling overwhelmed and  wanting to find  SOMEWHERE to start. What I DO like  about this new  series of books  is  that they choose  one  constellation  and  focus on EVERYTHING of  interest in that constellation. SO perhaps  this  is  the  direction I should  pursue. Perhaps  I just answered my own question…. what are your  thoughts? Why do some of us focus on a  particular area of this amazing and  complex science… and  how do you do it???





    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.


    Ian Kahler

    Thanks  for  your input James. I have a  5 inch refractor that is missing a tripod right now, so I use binoculars to look around at this time. I live  in Seattle WA, USA, and  the  Seattle  astronomy society is … according to the  research I have on them…. a  rather  good  club. I may join, but I am terrible  in social situations so it is  not a  priority for  me. I have  always  been interested  in the  history and  advancement of  astronomy, so what I really need to do is  stop charging around  like  the bull in a  china  shop,  haha and pick a  direction. Once  again, thx for your  input.

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