I decided to get back into astronomy after watching "Wonders of the Solar System" with Prof Brian Cox on BBC2. Last time i looked through a telescope in anger i was 14! My first 'real' telescope was a shiny red tasco 60mm from my mum's catalogue. I remember being transfixed by the moon (to be honest it was probably all i could see with that scope) There wasn't any such thing as the internet then and all I learnt about astronomy came from books in the school library read avidly during lunchbreak.
Fast forward some years to 2010 and my first purchase was some new Celestron 15x70 binoculars and my first session with them came after a break of more than 26 years. I decided to follow all the advice which was to start with bins, learn the sky and then progress to a scope. Certainly makes sense and im enjoying learning all the constellations again. It did seem easier when i was 14 though!
I decided Pleiades (M45) which is visible to the naked eye from my back garden would be an ideal first target. I mounted my binoculars on a manfrotto tripod which is heavy and quite sturdy. And took my first peek. Pleiades looked beautiful with x15 magnification. It was certainly a 'wow' moment and took my breath away. I spent about 40 minutes just looking at them and getting to know my binoculars before attempting anything else.
I'd also made up my mind by this stage that my passion for astronomy was as strong (if not stronger) now as it was when i was 14. I began to save for my ultimate dream scope a Skywatch Skyliner 300 dob!
After a few weeks of using the binoculars i began to get fidgetty, the astronomy bug had bitten hard and I wanted a scope. Resisting the urge to go out and splurge on a brand new dob i bought a really cheap 76mm mini newtonian from scopenskies astroboot section for £20. Not the biggest scope in the world but it gives some nice views and also allowed me to practise running a newtonian which up until now I've had no experience of.
A couple of cheap eyepieces came next, to vary things a bit, unfortunately due to the focal length of the mini newt (300) a x2 barlow just doesnt work. Had my first ever view of staurn through the 76mm which totally blew me away!
I also bagged a couple of the brighter messiers too which was pleasing for such a small scope, however (didnt you just know there'd be a however) i wanted something with which i could see things in a bit more detail.
Scopenskies astroboot came to the rescue again in the shape of a brand new Bresser Skylux 70mm fl700 refractor for £30! Immaculate condition, this is the same model that Lidl sells occasionally. With the focal length of 700mm its more suited to barlow use and the views it gives are very crisp and clear. A little bit of false colur and fringing on the extreme edge but i can certainly live with that for £30!
A couple of months down the line and I think ive come quite a long way in a short space of time. I can recognise most of the constellations without a book and know the positions of a few messiers. I can also recognise saturn, mars and venus just by their appearance and location in the sky. Ive just ordered my 300mm skyliner which should be here in the next few days....