Back­yard as­tron­omy on a bud­get

All About Space brings you all of the fun of ob­serv­ing the heav­ens… with­out break­ing the bank

All About Space - - Backyard Astronomy On A Budget -

When it comes to first choos­ing and pur­chas­ing equip­ment to ob­serve the night sky, there’s a lot to take in. “Which tele­scope should I get?” “Which mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is best for my first pair of binoc­u­lars?” “Do I need to buy ex­tra eye­pieces?”

These are pos­si­bly just some of the ques­tions that you may have found your­self puz­zling over. It may be that the daunt­ing task of se­lect­ing a tele­scope or pair of binoc­u­lars has put you off pur­su­ing a hobby in as­tron­omy. Maybe you bought a tele­scope that doesn’t meet your re­quire­ments or is too com­pli­cated for you to use. If you took the plunge be­fore you were ready, it has most likely left you feel­ing frus­trated and dis­ap­pointed, with noth­ing to show for your ef­forts other than a piece of equip­ment gath­er­ing some dust in some rarely vis­ited cor­ner of your home.

Blun­ders like this aside, it cer­tainly is pos­si­ble to take part in back­yard as­tron­omy with­out hav­ing to spend an in­cred­i­ble amount. The trick is to do your re­search; that could in­volve read­ing up on your hobby in stargaz­ing books, or get­ting some ad­vice from a sea­soned ama­teur as­tronomer at your lo­cal as­tro­nom­i­cal so­ci­ety be­fore you make your first pur­chase. It is also es­sen­tial that you shop around to com­pare prices, mak­ing sure that there is a sat­is­fac­tory trade-off be­tween how much you can af­ford and what your po­ten­tial piece of equip­ment can ac­tu­ally of­fer in terms of ob­ser­va­tional per­for­mance. Lastly, you should al­ways think ahead – will your equip­ment still be us­able a year into your back­yard as­tron­omy hobby?

Where first-time astronomers of­ten get lost is not be­ing able to fig­ure out what they should be look­ing for in an ideal piece of equip­ment, and think­ing that big­ger and more ex­pen­sive is bet­ter. This is not al­ways the case. It is al­ways down to the in­di­vid­ual, and a tele­scope that al­lows you to do what you want at a rea­son­able cost is def­i­nitely a step in the right di­rec­tion.

Still at a loss? We’ve put to­gether this guide to en­sure that you get the ex­pe­ri­ence that you want with min­i­mum fuss.

“It is also es­sen­tial that you shop around to com­pare prices”

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