Resources

About the B.R.A.S. itself, or any topics that don't fit in the other forums.
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jsteele
Posts: 1
Joined: January 9th, 2012, 1:05 pm

Resources

Post by jsteele »

Hey everyone,

I have just recently become interested in astronomy and am very new. I do have a telescope and a pair of binoculars. I am ready to start viewing and in fact have already looked at the moon and jupiter, but as far as knowing exactly what I am looking at, besides these obvious objects, is extremely hard for me to figure out. Can anyone give me some resources I can use that will help me learn EVERYTHING??? Any help will be greatly appreciatedd.

Thanks!

Christopher K.
Posts: 5522
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Resources

Post by Christopher K. »

First, you should take a look at two magazines, Astronomy and Sky & Telescope. These are the two preeminent amateur astronomy magazines in the country. They each have informative articles on what there is to see during any particular month--any conjunctions, eclipses, transits, etc. I find the latter a little more involved and complex than the former. A good annual guide is Skywatch, from the Sky & Telescope people.

Go to your local library and familiarize yourself with several invaluable print resources. Although I have not used them much myself, I've heard wonderful reviews of Nightwatch and Turn Left at Orion. These are good for general introductions to the hobby. A good online collection of definitions of basic astronomical and physics terms has been put together by David Darling...
http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/ETEmain.html

To learn constellations, a good choice is Smithsonian's Field Guide to the Night Sky. If you really want to get into the backgrounds of stars--original historical measurements and origins of names--try Richard Hinckley Allen's Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning or the invaluable and irreplaceable Celestial Handbook, a three-volume masterpiece from the 1970s by Robert Burnham, Jr. A wonderful online resource for stars and constellations is the massive effort from Professor Kaler at the University of Illinois...
http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/sowlist.html

A modern classic (if there is such a thing) connecting astronomy to many other disciplines--and to the human spirit--is Carl Sagan's Cosmos, a book and miniseries he created with help from Ann Druyan and Steven Soter.

Having said all that, I believe the best action you can take to immerse yourself into a environment where you actually learn the craft through doing would be to join an astronomy club and/or visit the closest observatory. You will then be with people who can start you off with basic skills such as determining the magnification of your view, learning which magnifications work best for which objects, teaching yourself how to "starhop" (a strongly recommended practice, go-to and GPS technology notwithstanding), understanding how to learn the fixed (right ascension and declination) and determine the changing (altitude and azimuth) locations for celestial objects, etc.

BRAS meets on the second Monday of the month at HRPO, 13800 Highland Road.

GeoffM
Posts: 36
Joined: November 14th, 2010, 11:45 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
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Re: Resources

Post by GeoffM »

A good ol' fashioned planisphere is my reference of choice. If I'm looking up, and can't figure out what I see, then I look at my planisphere and it lets me know what's overhead. You can get them cheap - Like This One

Efflixi
Posts: 6
Joined: December 2nd, 2011, 5:31 am

Re: Resources

Post by Efflixi »

Turn Left At Orion is a great book. It can be had from Amazon.com for less than $20 and it shows you exactly what you'll see through binocs, a small telescope, and a large telescope. Make sure you get the latest version (it's spiral bound and published in 2011).

Christopher K.
Posts: 5522
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Resources

Post by Christopher K. »

Some sad news transmitted to Craig and Merrill and me by John Nagle: Willmann-Bell is closed for business at this time...
https://www.willbell.com/Default.htm

Hopefully it is temporary, and one can still peruse the catalog. At this time I do not know the reason.

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