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Hi - I'm a new member of this great forum and a complete beginner. I would be grateful for ideas or suggestions if you have time please. 

Last night at around 2230hrs i was laying on my back garden in the moist grass gazing up at the night sky. Clear skies North and South but cloudy in the East, Patchy West. No telescope, just my mug of tea and a blanket. I have always known where North is since a young lad. Find the Plough, top and last star of the saucepan and follow in a straight line for 6 thumbs and there is the North star. Great. Then, as i looked at it with my new eyes as a new budding novice, it suddenly dawned on me.

Like most of us on this planet we all look at our night sky, think how beautiful it is, be humbled, thankful, in awe, spiritual, emotional and so on, then go about our business. But not now! Now I am looking up with deranged eyes and mind, thinking i have not a clue about any of this wonderous sight before me. I have no names, no vocabulary, no maps, no idea of where to start and no plan at all. So far i have been looking at equipment needed to get started, which in itself was overwhelming, but made a choice and picked out my telescope. And indeed some members here, have kindly said i made a decent choice to start with.......

As it got gradually darker (and colder) the stars got brighter. So i picked out a line from the middle of the Plough and followed if by about 13 thumbs (sorry for the boyhood terms) and found a big bright star and below that, by half a thumb, a collection of faint stars which i could see better by averting my gaze. It dawned on me again. I cant be doing this all night without any clue of technical knowledge. Bewildered, I stood up and looked toward the South West and saw what i know to be Jupiter and i think Saturn (fainter). This again brought it home just how little i know and just how much learning is needed just to get going.

I went inside and on my PC ( i dont have an i -phone or android tablet ) and found Stellarium. Looked at the online sample, stuck in my location and upcame a northerly view of what i had been looking at. I found the names to my delight and ran outside to try and match up what i had seen. But it took at least 10 minutes before my eyes got used to the dark again. Then identified said bright star as Arcturas and below that faint collection as Gaia. ( i think ) Cocker hoop, i ran back inside and looked again at the PC for more names. This went on for about an hour or so. I felt elated at finding the star called Dubhe which was my boyhood top of saucepan star and on to Polaris. Back to Ursa major across again to Arcturas and below that Gaia, carefully usig my thumb to get the right measure. I couldn't see capalla coz of cloud to the east.

Back inside I thought just how do other people do this. 

Hence this message. I need to work out a plan, what are the right maps, is Stellarium good start or something similar. What hard copy maps and best beginners books? Is it a good idea to pick up a small bit of sky, and work outwards from that, then when comfortable, move on to other directions. Or do I pick out known objects, like the Moon and other near planets and go from there. Or do I do a bit of everything bit by bit.? 

What is the best way of logging my progress? And many more questions..... Sorry for length of this topic matter, if I have made mistakes with names and if the questions asked are basic.

I would be grateful for your thoughts and advice - thanks a million.

Garry

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Hi Garry

I would suggest a Planisphere by Phillips large enough to read with a red torch outside to keep your dark adjusted vision - low cost and will work every night thats clear for the rest of your life.

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@SteveWolves beat me to it by a fraction.

A Philips Planisphere is the place to start. Make sure you get one for your latitude range, and I'd say avoid the 'glow in the dark' ones. They don't have as much detail, and the 'glow' is likely to be too bright at the start of a session, and not visible by the end. If it's still visible, you've not been out long enough 😀

They have the brighter stars named, and they will help you distinguish your Caph from your Sadr. 

To track your progress, get a notebook and make notes of what you've done each time, maybe aim to concentrate on a constellation or two, and sketch them, and make notes on your impressions. If looking at planets, see what else is around them, Jupiter takes 12 years or so to go around the Zodiac, so it'll be different from season to season.

But keep an eye out for anything that takes your fancy, and note it down.

Edited by Gfamily
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13 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Garry,

All the above and a pair of <£60 10x50 binoculars. If you're having this much fun with Mk.1 eyeballs, you may require sedation after a binocular view. 🧐😁

Hey ScouseSpaceCadet,

Thanks for the advice, will look into getting some binoculars. Though i bet there is a massive choice for them and I wouldn't be sure whats best..... Any thing in particular?

Made me laugh with M1 eyeballs. Its not that, it was reasonably clear and i live in a good place for looking up. 😁

S

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32 minutes ago, Slingshot said:

Hey ScouseSpaceCadet,

Thanks for the advice, will look into getting some binoculars. Though i bet there is a massive choice for them and I wouldn't be sure whats best..... Any thing in particular?

Made me laugh with M1 eyeballs. Its not that, it was reasonably clear and i live in a good place for looking up. 😁

S

There's a few choices of binocular in the budget but not awful category. 

Mine are Olympus DPS-I 10x50 but on Amazon at least, the price has increased by £10 recently. They're regularly priced at £50-£60. They may be cheaper elsewhere.

Have a look in the forum binocular section. There's loads of advice there.

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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2 minutes ago, Tenor Viol said:

Planisphere I agree is a good starting point and make sure it's for the right latitude. There are books such as the Pocket Sky Atlas (pub. Sky & Telescope) and Turn Left at Orion. 

Thank you for your suggestions, appreciate it.

Garry

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Great post @Slingshot

A planisphere as suggested is an excellent idea for finding your way around.

This monthly download is quite useful, and gives a range of naked eye, binoculars and telescope objects.

http://skymaps.com/downloads.html
 

In terms of star atlases, the Sky and Telescope Pocket Pocket Sky Atlas is well worth considering.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1931559317/ref=tmm_other_meta_binding_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=
 

A red light torch will help you maintain your dark adaptation.

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1 minute ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

There's a few choices of binocular in the budget but not awful category. 

Mine are Olympus DPS-I 10x50 but on Amazon at least, the price has increased by £10 recently. They're regularly priced at £50-£60. They may be cheaper elsewhere.

Have a look in the forum binocular section. There's loads of advice there.

 

Grand job - thanks a mill- will look into it, along with all the other things  i need.

G

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2 minutes ago, Stu said:

Great post @Slingshot

A planisphere as suggested is an excellent idea for finding your way around.

This monthly download is quite useful, and gives a range of naked eye, binoculars and telescope objects.

http://skymaps.com/downloads.html
 

In terms of star atlases, the Sky and Telescope Pocket Pocket Sky Atlas is well worth considering.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1931559317/ref=tmm_other_meta_binding_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=
 

A red light torch will help you maintain your dark adaptation.

Hi Stu- thank you, I obviously need a load of stuff with all the great advice from everyone. Will get them ordered. Garry

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Superb to see such delight, I also revel in naked-eye views.

re binoculars. If you can afford to spend a bit more, I would very strongly recommend Nikon Prostaff 3s 8x42. I recently researched this area to try to find a very good pair for as little as possible to give to someone who’s done me great favour recently, and these came up trumps.

The Prostaff 3s give lovely wide field of view great sharpness and very light-touch focuser. The person I gave them to is delighted with them.

M

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Steve Tonkin is one of the acknowledged experts on binoculars in the UK

His Binocular Sky website is one of the best places to get information about binoculars (and his monthly newsletter will give you advice on how to use them).

One of his recommendations for 'reasonably priced' binoculars is the Opticron Adventurer 10x50 WP (WP indicating that they should be resistent to dew getting inside)

Review here

http://binocularsky.com/reviews/Opticron_Adventurer_T_WP_10x50.pdf

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Welcome to the hobby. I agree with the comments above, a planisphere, sky and telescope pocket sky atlas and some binoculars is a great way to go.

Your post reminds me of what got me hooked, seeing Jupiter and thinking  I could see the big moons around it. Like you I went inside and checked it out and was amazed.

Edited by Paz
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12 hours ago, Captain Magenta said:

Superb to see such delight, I also revel in naked-eye views.

re binoculars. If you can afford to spend a bit more, I would very strongly recommend Nikon Prostaff 3s 8x42. I recently researched this area to try to find a very good pair for as little as possible to give to someone who’s done me great favour recently, and these came up trumps.

The Prostaff 3s give lovely wide field of view great sharpness and very light-touch focuser. The person I gave them to is delighted with them.

M

Thank you - will investigate

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48 minutes ago, Paz said:

Welcome to the hobby. I agree with the comments above, a planisphere, sky and telescope pocket sky atlas and some binoculars is a great way to go.

Your post reminds me of what got me hooked, seeing Jupiter and thinking  I could see the big moons around it. Like you I went inside and checked it out and was amazed.

Hi Paz - thank you, so much advice its great!

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12 hours ago, Gfamily said:

Steve Tonkin is one of the acknowledged experts on binoculars in the UK

His Binocular Sky website is one of the best places to get information about binoculars (and his monthly newsletter will give you advice on how to use them).

One of his recommendations for 'reasonably priced' binoculars is the Opticron Adventurer 10x50 WP (WP indicating that they should be resistent to dew getting inside)

Review here

http://binocularsky.com/reviews/Opticron_Adventurer_T_WP_10x50.pdf

Hi G family - read Mr Tonkins review. Looks good so thank for this information. Will investigate and check to see how many shillings i have! Slingshot

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 16/09/2020 at 06:04, Waldemar said:

Thank you for that nice trip back in time, Garry!
I think most us got hooked in about the same way to this great lifelong hobby. 

Have fun and stay in awe!

thanks Waldmar - and to everybody. slingshot

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On 22/08/2020 at 11:41, Paz said:

Welcome to the hobby. I agree with the comments above, a planisphere, sky and telescope pocket sky atlas and some binoculars is a great way to go.

Your post reminds me of what got me hooked, seeing Jupiter and thinking  I could see the big moons around it. Like you I went inside and checked it out and was amazed.

cheers Paz

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