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BellaOnline's Astronomy Editor

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Getting Started

Beginners´ guides to get you started observing and finding your way around the sky, as well as choosing equipment.

A Quick Guide to the Astronomy Site star
What are other people reading? Where can I find an astronomy word search? I´d like some help to start observing. What is a meteor shower? Here is a guide to help you find what you want and get the best out of the BellaOnline Astronomy site.

Absolute Beginners - Autumn Skies star
As the long days of summer slip away and the skies darken earlier, the first stars of autumn appear. The centerpiece is the Great Square of Pegasus. It's the key to other autumn sights, including the most distant object you can see without a telescope - it's a billion billion miles away.

Absolute Beginners - Observing the Moon star
We take the Moon for granted, because it's so close to us and easy to see. But it's a beautiful and interesting object as it goes through its monthly changes. If you use a pair of binoculars, you can learn to recognize many of its main features. Some of them are visible without binoculars too.

Absolute Beginners - Observing the Sun star
Study the Sun, but treat it with respect! Protect your eyes and use equipment with care, and you can count sunspots and see solar eclipses and transits. Or from the the comfort of your living room your computer will let you see space telescope images of solar flares, prominences and maybe a comet.

Absolute Beginners - Seeing Mars and beyond star
Three beautiful planets - Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - are all visible to the unaided eye. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see some of the moons and other features. Here's a beginner's guide to the planets which lie beyond Earth.

Absolute Beginners - Seeing Mercury and Venus star
We can see five planets with our unaided eyes. But people often ask how to find them and how to recognize them. Here is a beginner's guide for seeing Mercury and Venus.

Absolute Beginners - Spring Skies star
Days lengthen, flowers blossom and it's starting to get warmer. Even if your spring weather is late, daffodil-colored star Arcturus says it's spring. Use the Big Dipper to find Arcturus, Polaris the pole star, the constellation of Leo the lion, and a number of galaxies and nebulae.

Absolute Beginners - Start Observing star
You'd like to know the night sky better? But you haven't a got a telescope, live in a city, don't know any constellations or can't tell a star from a planet? Time to give up? Absolutely not. Time to read on and look up.

Absolute Beginners - Summer Skies star
Warm summer nights are a great time to study the sky. Here is a guide to the main summer constellations. You can see all of these things without a telescope, so head outside and look up.

Absolute Beginners - Winter Skies star
Many bright stars sparkle in the sky on crisp winter evenings. Brightest of all is Sirius the Dog Star, the face of one of the two dogs of Orion the hunter. The belt of Orion himself is an easily-identified feature and the constellation also has both a red supergiant star and a blue one.

Astronomy Day - Bringing Astronomy to the People star
Astronomy Day has been an annual celebration of astronomy for over forty years of "bringing astronomy to the people." See if you can find an event near you. If not, why not create your own event by skywatching with a friend - our Absolute Beginners guides can help you out.

Astronomy Newsletter Sign-up star
The free astronomy newsletter is easy to sign up for, offering a reminder of the latest articles, forum posts and news.

Choosing and Using a Telescope star
You've learned about the night sky with binoculars and you want to see more. What kind of telescope is good for a beginner? Here are some hints for choosing and using your first telescope. They've come a long way since Galileo first looked up through a telescope.

Citizen Science in the Electronic Age star
How many, and what kinds of birds are there around? How do we classify a million galaxies in sky survey images? How dark is the sky? Citizen scientists help to find out all of these things - and more. You could be a citizen scientist too.

Exploring Stars and Planets - book review star
Looking for an astronomy book for readers 8-14? Philip´s has a brand new edition of Ian Ridpath´s best seller. Clearly written and illustrated with up-to-date images, it´s the story of the Solar System. But there are also glimpses into galaxies, exploding stars and the history of the Universe.

Heavens Above star[offsite link]
Heavens Above helps you find things in the sky. You can get predictions for the International Space Station and for a number of satellites. Each prediction includes the time, brightness and where to look. A whole sky chart feature lets you see where stars and planets are from any location at the time and date that you choose. If you register as a user, which is free, you don´t have to put in your location every visit and you can list a number of locations.

How to Tell a Planet from a UFO star
Two English policemen chased a UFO through the Devon countryside. It was the planet Venus. A news reporter had quite a scoop when she found a UFO hovering over New York City. It was the planet Jupiter. Why are planets and stars often mistaken for spacecraft or aircraft?

Start Observing - with Binoculars star
What does every astronomer need? Most people would answer "a telescope." But, actually, binoculars are the best way to start observing the sky. Many experienced astronomers use them in addition to a telescope. Here is some guidance about getting started.

Links marked with the [offsite link] designation point to websites not associated with BellaOnline.com. BellaOnline.com is not responsible for the material found there.

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Maria Mitchell - in Her Own Words

Saturn's Moons – Facts for Kids

Celestial Sleuth – book review

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