Nov 22, 2010

Beginners' guide to: Your first five sights

Beginners' guide to ...
  Your first five sights

Tooled up and ready to go, but don't know where to aim your scope? Here's our list of the top sights.

What are the best objects to aim at for your first nights at the telescope? Where you need to look in the night sky to find them. How you can get the most out of your first Foray into stargazing

The long winter nights mean it's a great time of year for stargazing, with the sky filled with some real celestial gems. If you've just bought a telescope or have asked for one, you'll no doubt want to get out there and start using it. However, faced with the countless points of light in the night sky, it can be a daunting task to decide what to aim your telescope at first.
To make sure you're suitably impressed, we've highlighted five top sights that arc around at the moment. We've explained where and when to search for them, and what to look for. This list will also give you a good taste of the range of objects you can point your telescope at.
Heading up our list is the Moon – the best place for any fledgling astronomer to start is our nearest celestial neighbor, You haven't really seen this familiar celestial body until you've viewed it with a telescope; its rugged, crater- marked surface will keep you coming back to your new scope for more.
You'll then need to bag yourself a planet and Jupiter, the largest of them all, will be a stunning sight. We then take you to deep space and the famous Orion nebula, a huge cloud of gas and dust hanging in Orion's Sword. Indeed, a relatively cheap telescope with an aperture of 3 to 6 inches will show you a wide variety of astronomical objects, and our final two targets are a distant galaxy and a pair of star clusters.
You could just rush outside and get going. But, with a little preparation, your session can be even more enjoyable. Once you're at the scope, with your eye properly adjusted to the dark after 20 minutes or so outside, you're ready to go.
What you won't see are grand, colorful objects that look like the stunning space images you see in books. However, what you do get is an amazing feeling as you find the e incredible objects for yourself. 

Your first telescope targets

Ready? Take aim ... Go! Read on to find the top five astronomical objects for beginners

The moon
Constellation: It doesn't stay in the same place but it's hard to miss
When to view: 8 to 17 December and 8 to 17 January
These dotes cover the waxing phases of the Moon in the evening skies, from the date when it is first seen as a thin crescent emerging after sunset. The reason you want to look at this time is because the terminator is visible. This is the line between the lighted side and the dark side of the Moon and the place where the Sun's light catches the craters and mountain ranges, thus casting amazing shadows across the lunar surface.

Constellation: moving from Aquarius into Pisces in the south
When to view: as soon as it's dark
Jupiter is unmistakable as there are no bright stars in the area where it sits. Through a small telescope, you can see the planet as a disc with several dark bands of its atmosphere. You may also see Jupiter's four largest moons as points of light either side of the planet.

Constellation: Orion
When to view: from 9pm at the start of December
Orion Nebula
The Orion Nebula, numbered 42 in the famous Messier Catalogue of deep-sky objects, is a 'must' for observing the winter skies. The Orion Nebula is just visible to the unaided eye as a misty patch, but even the smallest of scopes will start to reveal the sweeping structure of this stellar nursery. You will see it as a wonderful curving cloud of dust and gas.

Constellation: Andromeda
Andromeda Galaxy M31
When to view: as soon as it's dark, high in the sky
M31 is found by star-hopping from the nearby asterism, the Great Square of Pegasus. This will appear as a misty patch to the eye but is actually a giant, spiral island of stars, similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy. What is so impressive about the Andromeda Galaxy is that what you are looking at sits at around 2.75 million light-years away - a staggering distance.

Constellation: Perseus
When to view: as soon as it's dark
The Sword Handle will be very high in the east and moves almost overhead through the night. To find the Sword Handle, locate the 'W'-shape of Cassiopeia and work from there. In a darker location, it's just visible with the unaided eye. With a small telescope it's a wondrous sight of two amazing, roundish concentrations of hundreds of stars.


  1. Thanks for letting us know about the things that a person may see through his telescope. Keep up sharing tips like that....

  2. thanks for share..

    ReplyDelete's Most Recent Observing Stories blog

telescopes - Yahoo! News

astronomy - Google News