Section 1: How To Choose A Telescope
Why I Wrote This Book
This book is written for both the newcomer to astronomy and the more seasoned amateur. The novice will find it a useful guide that goes deeper into certain areas of discussion than some other books. It is hoped that those with more experience will use it as a fall-back reference that covers many of the fundamental concepts of astronomy in detail without getting overly technical.
Yes indeed, there are plenty of books written for the purpose of familiarizing the novice astronomer with his newly found interest. However, I began work on this book to address what I perceived to be an informational gap.
Most books tell the prospective buyer what to look for in a telescope, cover what accessories may be needed, and then proceed to tell the proud new owner what he can do with his carefully chosen instrumentation. More often than not, the subject matter is covered in an engaging manner. Though most books on this subject are more than adequate at telling the user what to do and how to do it, they seldom mention the underlying principles of this information to the extent that I feel they should. It seems to me that it is as important to know why something is the way it is as to know the how of it. Perhaps most authors do not delve deeper in this area because they feel that such technical details would be boring to the reader, though it is my own personal experience that even the most abstract idea can be presented to the reader in a captivating way if the writer is creative enough to express the topic in terms which are tied to the familiar. It is also my opinion that relating of such ideas may be done without “talking down” to the reader.
But of necessity I shall address a lot of the same issues covered in those other books since the core subject is the same. For instance, all such books address the average person’s erroneous idea that the more a telescope can magnify the more useful it is.
Here is the first lesson for the novice astronomer. If a manufacturer touts high magnification as a major feature, chances are you will not get a very capable instrument. Yes, the scope will have the advertised magnification, but good luck trying to see something at that power! The reasons for this situation are simple and will be explained later.
You have an interest in astronomy or you wouldn’t be reading this book. I don’t want you to lose that interest because I love the subject. If you believe a lot of the department store and catalog ads for telescopes, you will probably lose your interest very fast. You will lose your interest because the telescope you buy won’t be worth your hard earned dollars. Most people in that situation don’t realize that it is their telescope that is letting them down. Instead, they assume that there is little of interest to see.
Getting a good telescope is only half the battle. Using the second section of this book called Learning Your Way Around The Night Sky you can become an expert star finder! Even if you own a computerized “Go To” telescope that can find objects on its own, you should learn this skill for two reasons: 1) you can’t truly call yourself an amateur astronomer until you know your way around the sky, and 2) locating interesting things in the sky with just your eyes is an enjoyable and relaxing pastime in and of itself. But if your telescope is not computerized, picking up this skill is a necessity! Before you can attempt to find interesting objects for telescopic observation, you need to know how to find key “landmarks” in the sky when looking with just your eyes. You’ll be surprised how easily you’ll pick up the knack!
copyright 2004 Singularity Scientific, all rights reserved