BECOMING A BETTER OBSERVER
Skywatchers can spend a fortune on elaborate equipment, but the sky comes free of charge.
Armed with no more than a good astronomy
guidebook, you can enjoy skywatching from any location. A beautiful grouping of the Moon and planets, the swirling display of an aurora, or the progress of stars and constellations through the seasons—these are the simple pleasures of low-cost, naked-eye astronomy.
A pair of binoculars, which you may already own, opens up new vistas—from the
Milky Way resolved into thousands of stars to a glowing comet or the shuttling moons of Jupiter.
While telescopes are seen as the entry tickets to the hobby, many people buy one far too soon. If you do not yet own a telescope, wait until you know your way around the sky. Take the opportunity at star parties and observatories to look through a variety of telescopes. When you are ready to buy one of your own, consult the guidelines in this section. If you already have some skywatching equipment, the advice in this section will help you make the most of it.