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Tired of PeTA talk??

Guest OFF or Old Fur F##t

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Buy binoculars. You'll get much more out of them.


They are easier to carry. They are easier to spot things in the sky with. They are cheaper and the will afford you a much better view of the sky than a telescope will unless you are willing to spend a lot of time setting up and focusing and all that jazz.


Get a pair with a nice, large objective lens. Try to stay away from the "compact" type that birdwatchers use. They are good for walking through the woods but not for looking at the sky. Larger lenses (usually) give you better light gathering ability. THAT's what you're looking for... Light gathering, not magnification.


A pair of 7 X 35 binoculars will do a nice job but, if you want to spend a little more $$ get 10 X 50.


With a good pair of 10 X 50 binoculars on a calm, clear night you can see most, if not all of the Messier Objects.


A reasonably priced pair of binoculars will cost you between $50.00 and $75.00 (US$)

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If you're like me and can't "see" through binoculars [i look through one half] get a good shooters spotting scope or one of the many very fine smaller telescopes that can be had for no more than a few hundred for a very good one.



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APOD is a pretty cool site indeed. Here's a pretty memorable picture that was fairly recent.



The suggestions that Worker gave are pretty good. Start off with a pair of binoculars so you can get to know you're way around the sky some and figure out what's there. Then once you know what you're looking at and looking for, then you can move onto a telescope. But if you buy a telescope, don't buy one from a department store. They'll only be cheap telescopes that won't work properly and will kill your interest in astronomy. Instead, buy one from a good optics place, or even on-line.

Here's a couple to start with:





You'll be able to get good telescopes from these places.

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I liked the luminescent brain too.


Kind of an updated "Deep Thought" [Hitchhikers Guide].


Would make a hell of a SciFi prop, don't you think?



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Would make a hell of a SciFi prop, don't you think?


Considering the temperatures it attained, I think it could be slightly dangerous.

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That Z-Machine picture looks like something right out of "Man With the Golden Gun!"


If you want to buy a telescope, forget about "Power" or "Magnification". These are a meaningless number used to attract naive customers into buying a suboptimal product. "Ooh! It's got 1,000 X magnification! It MUST be good!" Wrong!


The first number you should look for on the side of a "scope" is the "f-number".


F-number is the same thing in telescopes as it is in cameras: The focal length of the optical system divided by the diameter.


You want the lowest f-number you can get. (Up to a limit.)

Generally speaking, you want a scope that has a wide body in comparison of its length. Short, fat scopes are better than long, skinny ones.


Scopes that you buy at department stores are around f-12. I have seen some as high as f-15. They are "suboptimal" at best. They are good, only, for looking at the moon and through your neighbor's window. No good for finding stars.


Go to a good camera store. Look for short, fat scopes with a wide objective. (The objective can be a lens or it can be a mirror. (Mirror/reflector scopes are usually better than lens/refractors.)


When you look for the f-number (usually on a name plate near the eyepiece) you should find one in about the f-8 to f-6 range.


The f-number tells you (in simple terms) how well the scope will gather light for you. Remember, when looking at the sky, you want a LIGHT GATHERING device, not necessarily a magnifying device. Scopes with lower f-numbers are better light gatherers.


You might think that a scope with a number as low as f-1 would be the ultimate. That's not always the case. A scope like that would gather so much light that you wouldn't be able to pick out the stars from the background. You'd see a muddy, grey sky with grey specks. You want to see blue-white specks against a velvet-black sky. If you go any lower than about f-5 or f-6 you'll start getting that grey-out effect.


But, put the scope on the back burner for a while and see what you can find with the binoculars. Download a list of Messier objects and instructions for finding them. You can probably find a star chart in a local store. It doesn't need to be fancy. One of those "rotating disk" ones will be sufficient to start you out. Later, when you get better you can get more detailed ones.


Put a few Messier objects under your belt. Then decide if you really want to spend the $$ on a good scope.


If you want to read a good book, try Secrets of the Night Sky -- Bob Berman


Just about everything I told you above is taken from that book. (Except for the parts where my memory fails me. )

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From an interested "Dabbler"


It can be a hell of a job trying to find the object you are looking for with a telescope (the sky is very big!) It's a lot easier with binoculars. So when starting out I would recommend binoculars first. Wider field iof view, therefore easier to know where you are in the sky when searching.


Also because of the rotation of the Earth, with a narrow field of view, you find what your looking for, get it all in focus etc. Look away to talk to someone for an instant, and when you look back your object has moved outside your field of view and you have to search for it all over again.

Dont get this so much with binoculars.


Those cardboard rotating disk star finding gadgets are perfect for finding your way around the sky, and very cheap.


Prepare to be very humbled by what you see. It's awesome.


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