Astronomy Delight! by Ed and Susan Forrest

During the past few months I have written in this column about how to get started in the hobby of amateur astronomy. Although my articles were mostly geared towards seniors and those who are nearing retirement, the advice and recommendations I provided apply
to almost anyone who has an interest in exploring the final frontier in this fascinating lifelong hobby. The most important recommendations, I offered such as “get outside and look”, “purchase simple beginner books and a planetsphere” and “consider acquiring good binoculars rather than an expensive telescope” when first starting out were in my opinion the most important recommendations to a beginner. Now, as I promised I will explain why I held off recommending (as many other amateur
astronomers do also) that those first starting out join the local astronomy clubs, purchase any one of the multitude of popular computerized telescopes, or begin to browse the internet. Let’s start by talking about purchasing that first telescope.
As for a beginner purchasing a “super-duper-finds everything in the universe-aligns itself-has a 40,000 object data base-shows you Pluto-and guaranteed to come with star maps, astronomical software and the like…” type computerized telescope, forget it. Unless as you know GMT, what 03:25 HRs means, can find Pollux, know about the NGC catalog, your latitude, or the difference between apparent
and actual field of view and Cassegrains, Maks, Refractors, Reflectors, arc seconds and other “neat stuff” the telescope manufacturers ASSUME you know, you are wasting your money. In fact, the vast majority of people that I have met over the years who purchased such sophisticated instruments when first starting out in astronomy no longer use their telescopes, or for that matter even pursued an
interest in amateur astronomy. The reason being that the telescopes were too confusing to use and people had…

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