DECIDING WHAT TO OBSERVE
Where to begin? What to observe? The answers depend on whether you have access to a pair of binoculars or a telescope, the quality ofyour observing site, and your geographical location.
Even without a telescope or star chart, you can venture outside on any clear evening and watch the stars gradually emerge from the deepening twilight. About an hour after dusk, you may see the sudden bright flash of a meteor or spot an artificial satellite moving steadily among the stars.
Looking beyond our Solar System out into deep space, we see myriad star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies. Some of these deep-sky objects are large and bright enough to see with the naked eye. With even a modest pair of binoculars, the star clouds and clusters of the Milky Way are incomparable.
However, most deep-sky objects require at least a 4 to 6 inch (100 to 150mm) telescope and a dark observing site far from city lights.
A telescope will also help you track down double and variable stars, even from the semi-darkness of the suburbs.
No one can see everything that happens in the sky from one place on Earth, and your geographical location will determine what you can and cannot observe. The Magellanic Clouds, tor example, cannot be seen from much of the Northern Hemisphere, while most Southern Hemisphere observers are unable to see the Big Dipper. Sky phenomena such as auroras and noctilucent clouds are more frequently observed at high latitudes, but the zodiacal light is more obvious in the middle latitudes.