Curious? An interest in Astronomy can be expressed at many levels, from the armchair follower of ‘The Sky at Night’ on the TV, all the way up to the dedicated astrophotographer who spends many hours on one photo. One spends nothing, the other may spend many thousands of pounds on the telescope, all the accessories like eyepieces, filters, etc – and then there is the camera equipment. And then there are the professional astronomers who earn their living from it. Strange as it may seem, many of these spend more time in front of computers than actually looking through telescopes.
But leaving the professionals aside, let’s assume that you are someone who wants to do a bit more than just watch TV and read the magazines. What can you achieve from your back garden and what do you need?
How much? Light pollution affects 99% of the UK population to a greater or lesser extent, but back garden astronomy is still, thanks to modern technology, a very enjoyable hobby. It won't cost much to start with and you can enjoy splendid views of the Moon, planets like Jupiter and Saturn and some other features like the Orion Nebula for quite modest sums. But if you want see more whether visually or by photography, it can, like many hobbies, become much more expensive. Although the varied colours of stars show up very well in telescopes, it is important to realise that the beautiful photos of galaxies and nebula that you see in the magazines will only appear as faint smudges when you look at them through anything other than a very, very large telescope, and even then there is likely to be an absence of colour.
You! There are also the personal attributes to consider, the main ones being patience and the ability to stick at something, not to mention the fact that you do need to wrap up very warm on cold winter nights. It does take a real interest in the subject to give up the warmth of a night inside watching TV and to wrap up with many layers, then spend another 10 or 15 minutes setting up your telescope. Which is where an observatory is so very useful, but yet another expense.
Money - again! Like many hobbies astronomy can be addictive but, unless you have plenty of money to spend or are really absolutely sure of yourself, it is very wise to start off small and find out just how much your interest really is before really splashing out and spending a lot. There are an awful lot of telescopes sitting in attics doing absolutely nothing.
The aims: This site aims to help you in as many realistic and practical ways as possible - and to inspire you with the many possibilities that astronomy offers. Some time in the not too distant future mankind will leave this Earth and begin to explore the vast universe outside. The more we learn before that happens, the better prepared we will be.
Please note that all prices quoted on this site are for guidance only.
This site is currently undergoing extensive revision and many pages are being changed or deleted, but my Blog will continue.
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