So you got a new telescope; now what?
It usually starts out with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. You get a new telescope, get it assembled and maybe test it out through a window looking at a tree or a car across the street. The clarity and magnification are impressive, and you can’t wait to explore the universe.
You wait patiently for a night with decent weather and clear skies, drag your telescope outside, and set out to explore the universe. Maybe you look at the moon or notice how many more stars you can see through your telescope, but most people quickly start asking ‘well now what?’.
If you’re at that point where you’ve gotten outside and don’t quite know what to do, you’re in good company. There are telescopes all over the world gathering dust instead of being outside gathering light. The sky is a big place, and it can be tricky to get started. Here are a few tips for anyone new to the hobby.
1. Learn to navigate the sky
2. Decide what you want to see110 things you can see with your new telescope. The list includes galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. Younger astronomers can start with something like “50 Things to See With a Telescope” or even "50 Things to See on the Moon"
3. Experiment with different views
As you get comfortable navigating the sky, and more familiar with the kinds of things you can see through your telescope, you may want to start experimenting with different magnifications and fields of views. It’s incredibly satisfying to take in a widefield view of the Milky Way, or to zoom in and find detail in the rings of Saturn of the bands of Jupiter. Different eyepieces will adjust the view through your telescope and tailor it to the kind of observing that you want to do. Most telescopes come with a couple of focal lengths to get you started.
4. Try taking a picture
Astrophotography is a bit of a rabbit hole, it’s immensely satisfying and it can be immensely frustrating as well. To get started, use a cell phone to take a picture of something you’re observing. A quick shot of the moon, or something like the Orion Nebula can be surprisingly impressive. Most telescopes can also be connected to a DSLR camera with relative ease. It’s also a great way to share your enthusiasm with friends and family. Also looks pretty cool on your insta.
5. Join a club
Astronomy can feel like a solitary hobby, but it’s a surprisingly social thing. There are loads of online clubs and Facebook groups that you can join to ask a question, or get some feedback. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is also a fantastic group to join. They have chapters in most Canadian cities. We will be back to hosting sidewalk nights and star parties later this year. Join our mailing list if you’d like to keep up to date on any events we’re holding.