Astronomy on a budget

Around the internet I've seen many websites talking about expensive telescopes, mounts and fancy CCD cameras. If you don't have a spare few hundred pounds (several hundred US dollars) to buy the latest equipment, this can be a bit depressing and you may think that you can't do any astronomy yourself. In reality there is a lot you can do without this gear and it need not be expensive; even with just your eyes there is a lot of sky to explore and it changes all the time.

For those on a budget, one of the best ways to start out in astronomy is to join your local amateur astronomy society. You should be able to find one near to where you live if you search around on the Internet. Usually, these societies are pretty friendly and there is bound to be someone who will let you look through their telescope. They will also be able to tell you about what you are looking at and show you how to get the best use of a telescope. Someone may even sell you an old telescope second-hand.

If you can spend a small amount of money, you could buy a cheap department-store telescope or get some second-hand binoculars from a car-boot sale. Again, your local astronomical society will be able to give you advice on buying a telescope, or binoculars, from their own experiences. Another cheap means of getting your own telescope is to make one yourself just like the great John Dobson. This method does take time but it can be a lot of fun and you really will know how a telescope works by the time you've built it.

Until recently I didn't own any kind of optical instrument other than my eye and a digital camera which I have used to take pictures of the Moon, Jupiter and the International Space Station. Last weekend I acquired my brother's binoculars and I hope to make use of them soon to look at interesting stuff in the sky, especially now that the weather has improved. Now, I must start thinking about building my own telescope...

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 27th Oct 2005 (18:57 UTC) | Permalink
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