Beginning Astronomy
Some advice for those interested in becoming amateur astronomers,
especially for those who live in the Greater Houston Area.
Follow this advice and you'll save a lot of time, energy and money + have fun!

Earth Rise

1. Don't buy a telescope right away! Become an educated consumer.

  • There are several different types of telescopes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. (See "The Telescope Review Web Site" at -- especially their "Beginners" section.)
  • Many astronomy clubs have telescope loaner programs so you can try out different models.

2. Join an astronomy club. Meet experienced amateurs, see their various telescopes, learn about what the hobby is really like, etc.

Planisphere3. Buy a "planisphere" -- a simple, $10 - $15, plastic device that will help you learn the constellations. All you do is rotate the wheel to align today's date with the current time, and you see what constellations are visible and where they are in the night sky. It's really easy to use. I prefer "The Night Sky" planisphere (pictured at left) sold by the David Chandler Co. Be sure to get one for your latitude. Houston area residents should get one for 30-40 degrees north latitude. Seriously, get a planisphere!

4. Subscribe to Astronomy and/or Sky & Telescope magazine.

5. Buy a low cost, simple pair of binoculars.

6. Visit the George Observatory, about an hour's drive outside of Houston. A great way to learn about different telescopes and how to find objects in the night sky!

7. Get the following book: Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe, by Terence Dickinson, Firefly Books. This is an outstanding introductory astronomy book.

Other Houston-area Resources:

Spot satellites flying overhead:

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