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A Tour through the Universe for Casual or First Time Astronomers Part 2: Equipment and Accessories

Maybe you already have a telescope and maybe you don't This section of the tour through the universe will assume you don't have one as a base for beginning your pursuit of astronomy.

 

 

So, if you don't have a telescope what other things should you have?

Meade Binoculars

Binoculars - You can do some wonderful stargazing with just your eyes and a few other things but if you have a pair of binoculars you should bring them along. They will make a wonderful addition to your stargazing. Binoculars are a low cost and effective first choice to dabbling in astronomy because they are very useful in other circumstances. They won't just collect dust if you don't do much stargazing. The binoculars shown here are made by the Meade Corporation and can be purchased from Amazon.com Meade 8x42 Full Size Porro Prism Binoculars I have a telescope and binocular store right here on the site with binoculars I have hand picked from the amazon.com selection. Just click on the binoculars tab on the left Telescopes and Binoculars

 

A Star Map or a Star Chart

If you are an absolute beginner to star gazing you might not know it but the stars in the night sky change from hour to hour and from season to season. This is because the earth is rotating and revolving around the sun. So if you go out and find something one night on the next night or later that same night its not in the same spot! You need to have some kind of a chart to help you find things. Here is a nice (and free) sky map that you can download and print out in pdf format Skymaps This is a good place to start. Here is a nice online tool where you enter your zip code and you get a star map generated automatically Weather Wonderland Starmap. I recommend you start with something like these free things but there are literally thousands of things you can see in the night sky and to really get an appreciation of these things you need a book that will guide you to them.

 

Turn Left at Orion

Here is a great book for beginning your hobby of stargazing. It is cleanly written, easy to understand, and has lots and lots of stuff in it. I also have a section of lots of other great amazon.com astronomy books if you want to browse through them. Just click on the left hand link for books and charts.

A Flashlight

A flashlight is an important addition to your stargazing so you can read your star charts or books. But a regular flashlight is not good. When you do stargazing you have to take some time in the darkness to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. This way you can see the most in the sky. But the bright beam from a flashlight could ruin this quickly and it will take another half hour for your eyes to adjust. So you need to cover the beam end of your flashlight with some type of red translucent material so it will give off a dull red light. Red light will not affect your night vision. Many flashlights come with a red lens as an accessory like the maglite below.

 

Maglite Mini

Mag Instrument AA Flashlight and Holster Combo Pack, Black #M2A01H

Maglite makes a whole series of high quality flashlights.

Maglite accessory kit

Mag Instrument Mini AA Flashlight Accessory Pack #AM2A016

They also make accessory packs that give you red and blue lenses which will change your flashlight into the perfect astronomy accessory.

A Telescope and its accessories

A telescope

Of course, if you have a telescope bring it out for your stargazing adventures!

Continue on to part 3 of the Beginners guide to astronomy and telescopes