Last Update: 2019-02-12

Getting Started In Astronomy

by Tom Bruce

Astronomy is a wonderful activity .. whether or not you will ever develop this interest.  No matter where you are in the world, look up, and the same stars are always there and in the same place -- count on it!  Astronomy is also a personal activity. Each person starts it in his/her own way, listen to others, but  still pursue your own interests.

Most beginners begin by "tinkering around" with sky charts and scopes of some sort. They like to go outside and try to make some sense out of the patterns of stars they see in the sky. Later as their experience and education develops, they start building their own devices or start saving enough cash to buy a small telescope. There is always a question of buying equipment and how much to spend .. and then .. perhaps, losing interest later. I have a comment about this: buy the best you can afford and keep it well and protected. Your interests will change but there is a good chance you will want to open up this interest again .. even for a short time.  The pithy notes, below are mine !

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You need only to download the  and units.  This is a very small package and will fit on small Windows computers. Of course, you'll have to unzip each unit.  Unzip the first .. and then unzip the unit.  When done place the contents ecline into the same folder where you stored the unit
StarCalc is easy to use --I use it all of the time for simply setting up an observing schedule, projection the positions of planets in the future,  identifying something interesting in the sky etc.  With this software you can easily move forward or backwards in time to verify some historical event.  It is a good analytical and educational software package.

Other resource items might include:

-- My personnel web page   --

-- A few on-line resources:  
      Astronomical Picture of the Day: or APOD at:

      Sun image:

      Objects near the Sun:  (click on the triangles along the lower part of the page)
                From time to time,  one or more planets will cross the image (check it each day)

               General Science web page:

-- I think that the Bradford Observatory in England may still allow the public to use their telescope remotely. After being accepted. you will have to send them an observing/project plan.   Many observatories are letting the public use their telescopes remotely .. at least this is the trend. Alternate
-- I also recommend reading "Frontiers of Astronomy" 1948-ish by Fred Hoyle .. it is largely out of date now .. but an excellent book that gives you an overall picture of Cosmology.  (High School level reader)

Maybe more later !