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Observing books, Websites and purchasing resources

Books and web sites to go along with that first telescope purchase.

(Note: this ia handout used to supplement talk/demo on purchasing a first telescope.)


Sky and Telescope - They publish Sky and Telescope magazine, a standard with astronomers for over half a century. The December 2005 issue has an excellent article on purchasing an inexpensive first telescope, and the Web site has another, more general article on the topic.

Night Sky - - A really excellent new magazine aimed at the beginning observer and published by Sky and Telescope.

Astronomy - - Another excellent astronomy magazine, aimed at the amateur observer, but with quite sophisticated scientific articles.

Beginner Books

Find the Constellations – by H. A. Rey - This is a classic aimed at the 9-12 year old reader. I’m not proud, though. If children’s books do the best job of explaining something, I buy them!

Turn Left at Orion: A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope--and How to Find Them -- by Guy Consolmagno – Although I have many guide books and 40-years experience, I still refer to this beginner’s book on a regular basis. It tells you what to look for, where to find it, and what it is you’re looking at.

The Backyard Stargazer: An Absolute Beginners Guide to Starwatching with and without a Telescope – by Pat Price. While Rey’s book focuses on the constellations and “Turn left . . .” is really for the small telescope owner, this book covers both subjects.

Where to shop online

Orion Telescopes and Binoculars - - These are the folks who sell the beginner scopes recommended by me and in the Sky and Telescope article.

Astromart - - Sort of the Ebay for amateur astronomers. You can find some very good deals here on used equipment, frequently in excellent condition – but you need to know what you are looking for. Might be a good place to ook after you have decided exactly what you want to buy.

Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews - - A good place to learn a lot more about telescopes, eyepieces, and related astronomy equipment. Many excellent reviews written by fellow amateurs.

Other Astronomy Web Resources

Yahoo Groups - Many general groups on astronomy, as well as several specific groups aimed sometimes at a single make and model of telescope. These groups can be very, very helpful when deciding which telescope to purchase, or when first learning to use a new scope.

Astronomy Picture of the Day - A fascinating way to get an astronomy education one picture at a time – or dive deeply into their archives for a heavy dose of some of the most interesting pictures in the universe.

The Astronomical League - - An international federation of amateur astronomers. Take a look at their “observing clubs.” This is a great way to add a sense of purpose – and a systematic approach – to your observing.

SkyScrapers, Inc - An observing club based near Providence that has been in existence for many years and has maintained an excellent reputation. They hold regular meetings with guest speakers.

CalSky - - a rather overwhelming – but very useful – site on all things pertaining to astronomical observing.

Hands on the Telescope, Eyes on the Universe - - This is the link to give your friends who may be interested in participating in the free Driftway Observatory programs.

Rapt in Awe - My personal astro-blog. I’m never sure what I’m going to put there, but here’s where you will definitely find news relating to Driftway Observatory, as well as links to the Driftway “Clear Sky Clock,” giving up-to-date observing weather info and many other useful resources. Of course, this is also where I ramble on about what’s important to me, which, in a word, is not astronomy per se, but “awareness.”

Posted by Greg Stone at November 17, 2005 11:35 AM Comments? Please email me:

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