# Help with how to start Stargazing

• Stargazing
at94official
Hello friends,

I am here to ask for your humble tips and techniques before I can start my journey towards the Sky.
I have been passionate about Astronomy, I always adore the stars and I have now decided to observe them with me very eyes. Do you have any suggestions for a beginner equipment that I must have?

Cheers,
Austin

davenn

A telescope is good, but I would start with the naked eye and a good pair of binoculars. Go out each night with a star map and try to identify the stars and constellations. Get a feeling for how the stars rise and set. Try to identify the major planets. When will the moon rise and set tonight? You should be able to get to the point where you are comfortable finding objects in the sky.

lomidrevo, davenn and symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Telescope would be more help than Binoculars; better magnification possible. You want at least 400 to 500 power magnification. The advice about learning where things are in the sky is correct. You will not see much looking at any individual star through the telescope. They will only appear like tiny white shaky dots which quickly move out of your telescope view. Viewing planets through telescope is a different story. They will be blurry, but still impressive.

Mentor
Telescope would be more help than Binoculars; better magnification possible. You want at least 400 to 500 power magnification.
I agree with the telescope idea, but not the magnification you recommend. First off, magnification can be changed easily, so it isn't an important number to state as the spec of a telescope (most important; aperture). Second, you need a really big telescope for that magnification range to be useful. For example, unless the seeing is exceptionally good, the sweet spot for my 11" telescope is about 186x. That's enough to make Jupiter, though the telescope, look 4x the size of the moon to the naked eye. And that magnification is only useful for planets and sometimes the moon.

berkeman
Telescope would be more help than Binoculars; better magnification possible. You want at least 400 to 500 power magnification. The advice about learning where things are in the sky is correct. You will not see much looking at any individual star through the telescope. They will only appear like tiny white shaky dots which quickly move out of your telescope view. Viewing planets through telescope is a different story. They will be blurry, but still impressive.

As russ_waters says, there are very few things in the sky that will bear 400-500X magnification in an amateur telescope. I find that most people who purchase amateur telescopes are disappointed. What they see looks nothing like the images they are used to seeing on the internet. Before you shell out the money for a telescope, it is worth thinking about what exactly you expect to see. If you start with a good pair of binoculars and learn the sky, you can gain experience, so when you buy (or make) a telescope you will have an idea of what it is capable of showing you.

davenn
at94official
As russ_waters says, there are very few things in the sky that will bear 400-500X magnification in an amateur telescope. I find that most people who purchase amateur telescopes are disappointed. What they see looks nothing like the images they are used to seeing on the internet. Before you shell out the money for a telescope, it is worth thinking about what exactly you expect to see. If you start with a good pair of binoculars and learn the sky, you can gain experience, so when you buy (or make) a telescope you will have an idea of what it is capable of showing you.
I really appreciate this advice. But somebody suggested to me to get a 8" Dobsonian Telescope instead of the 25x100 Binocular. Says, it's way better.

Mentor
Before you shell out the money for a telescope, it is worth thinking about what exactly you expect to see. If you start with a good pair of binoculars and learn the sky, you can gain experience, so when you buy (or make) a telescope you will have an idea of what it is capable of showing you.
...and if possible, find someone with a small telescope and look through theirs to get an idea of what you are in for. For me, it was borrowing my grandfather's 60x900 "K-Mart Special". After seeing Jupiter once, I instantly needed more and more and more. But my own 60x900 was my first and only scope for 10 years as a teenager and in my early 20s.

Mentor
I really appreciate this advice. But somebody suggested to me to get a 8" Dobsonian Telescope instead of the 25x100 Binocular. Says, it's way better.
It is. It's also way more expensive. If you have the money to burn and are ok with the chance - however small you think it is - that you may use it once and then put it in a closet for the next 20 years, go for it.

Homework Helper
Gold Member
I agree with the telescope idea, but not the magnification you recommend. First off, magnification can be changed easily, so it isn't an important number to state as the spec of a telescope (most important; aperture). Second, you need a really big telescope for that magnification range to be useful. For example, unless the seeing is exceptionally good, the sweet spot for my 11" telescope is about 186x. That's enough to make Jupiter, though the telescope, look 4x the size of the moon to the naked eye. And that magnification is only useful for planets and sometimes the moon.
As russ_waters says, there are very few things in the sky that will bear 400-500X magnification in an amateur telescope. I find that most people who purchase amateur telescopes are disappointed. What they see looks nothing like the images they are used to seeing on the internet. Before you shell out the money for a telescope, it is worth thinking about what exactly you expect to see. If you start with a good pair of binoculars and learn the sky, you can gain experience, so when you buy (or make) a telescope you will have an idea of what it is capable of showing you.
I imagine you are right; but I really do not remember the actual magnifications I was using so long ago when I first used a telescope. I was only guessing about the "400 or 500 power" magnification. I just no longer remember what the magnification was that I had. I COULD open the case and look at the lenses labelings, but currently that is a chore.

Gold Member
2021 Award
I really appreciate this advice. But somebody suggested to me to get a 8" Dobsonian Telescope instead of the 25x100 Binocular. Says, it's way better.

you would have a lot of fun with an 8" Dobo, I had one for a number of years. They are inexpensive AU or US$400 - 700 depending on make and model. Telescope would be more help than Binoculars; better magnification possible. You want at least 400 to 500 power magnification. After many, many years of experience, I also have to strongly disagree with that statement You will have the most fun with magnification powers of x250 or less, often very much less. There are lots of big nebula and star clusters (open and globular) out there that around x 100 will be ample. If you get a Dobo, look at 3 eyepieces for a start, 15mm 25mm and a 40mm, plossels are a good type. I would still heed @physguy 's comments about getting binoculars .... something around 7 x 50 and you will along with a star map program like Stellarium Get to a dark site away from city lights and skyglow, lie back in a deck chair and learn to find your way around the sky using a method that us old astronomers call star-hopping to find objects. keep in touch in this thread regards Dave lomidrevo, at94official and berkeman Homework Helper Education Advisor Gold Member davenn Like I said, I did not really remember the amount of magnification I had. I would need to open the old case and take a look. SF cookie You will learn more (and quicker) with just a *good* pair of 8x50 binoculars and a star chart. I would consider a pair of 10x50 or 10x60 but the higher magnification will give you problems with image stability when hand-held - mounting them on a tripod would help but it's a hassle and uncomfortable in use. You could have lots of fun with a Dobsonian but you'll find that high magnifications are too dim to be very interesting. My favourite eye-pieces with my 10" Dob were 50mm, 40mm and 32mm - in that order! at94official you would have a lot of fun with an 8" Dobo, I had one for a number of years. They are inexpensive AU or US$ 400 - 700 depending on make and model.

After many, many years of experience, I also have to strongly disagree with that statement

You will have the most fun with magnification powers of x250 or less, often very much less. There are lots of big nebula and star clusters (open and globular) out there that around x 100 will be ample.
If you get a Dobo, look at 3 eyepieces for a start, 15mm 25mm and a 40mm, plossels are a good type.

I would still heed @physguy 's comments about getting binoculars .... something around 7 x 50 and you will along with a star map program like Stellarium
Get to a dark site away from city lights and skyglow, lie back in a deck chair and learn to find your way around the sky using a method that us old astronomers call star-hopping to find objects.

keep in touch in this thread

Thank you so much for this, Dave. I would take note of this and to be honest. I am kinda leaning on having an 8" Telescope now, probably an Orion one. I'll update you when I have it soon.

Cheers,
Austin

davenn
at94official
You will learn more (and quicker) with just a *good* pair of 8x50 binoculars and a star chart. I would consider a pair of 10x50 or 10x60 but the higher magnification will give you problems with image stability when hand-held - mounting them on a tripod would help but it's a hassle and uncomfortable in use.

You could have lots of fun with a Dobsonian but you'll find that high magnifications are too dim to be very interesting. My favourite eye-pieces with my 10" Dob were 50mm, 40mm and 32mm - in that order!

I see, that's nice! I am really hype to have one now. How long have you been doing this?

Hi Austin,

I got my 8x10 Carl Zeiss Jena binoculars 38 years ago. They're still in use!

I had a pair of 16x50's before that but they were impossible to hand-hold steadily and the exit pupil is noticeably smaller. 8x50's are great.

I got my first Dob (home-made using a 10" f/5 mirror) about 4 or 5 years later. By that point, I knew my way around the sky thanks to the 8x50's.

Another useful aid is a planisphere such as the Philip's one pictured on Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planisphere

Have fun!

berkeman
lomidrevo
I really appreciate this advice. But somebody suggested to me to get a 8" Dobsonian Telescope instead of the 25x100 Binocular. Says, it's way better.

I have a 8" Dobson and indeed I have a lot of fun with that: very good scope, not very expensive. However, keep in mind, that this monster has to be stored somewhere in your house, so make sure you have space for it and a good way to manipulate it outside :) It will also take some space in your car, in case you plan to travel for stargazing - I think there would be more suitable scopes for that purpose. If you are definitively convinced that this hobby is right for you, I really recommend it. But as already pointed out in many posts, in case you don't have any experience, for beginning some binoculars and star atlas would be wiser investment - just to see whether you can find any passion in this hobby, and to get familiar with the night sky.

at94official
at94official
for beginning some binoculars and star atlas would be wiser investment - just to see whether you can find any passion in this hobby, and to get familiar with the night sky.

Right, Thank you for this. Do you have any good Binoculars to recommend with?

Thanks,
Austin

lomidrevo
Right, Thank you for this. Do you have any good Binoculars to recommend with?

Thanks,
Austin
I got Bushnell Powerview 7x50, but I believe that any binos on the market should be good for this purpose (excluding "no name" items). Just have a look at stores available to you, surely some good price offers are available.

lomidrevo
I still love to browse the sky with my binos. The wide field of view is really nice, and few larger clusters might look even beter than in big telescope. Moreover you can take your binos with you while you are enjoying outdoor activities during the day also [emoji41]

I recently bought a pair of Canon 10x30 image stabilized binoculars. They have a smaller exit pupil than is usually recommended for astronomical binoculars, but the image stabilization feature is amazing! You're looking at an object and it's dancing around as usual. Then you press the image stabilization button and the object basically "freezes". Jupiter's moons are easy, whereas I'm never really sure if I can see Jupiter's moons in my 7x50 binoculars when I'm hand-holding them without the image stabilization. I bought these binoculars for bird watching but now I routinely use them for astronomy.

at94official
I recently bought a pair of Canon 10x30 image stabilized binoculars. They have a smaller exit pupil than is usually recommended for astronomical binoculars, but the image stabilization feature is amazing! You're looking at an object and it's dancing around as usual. Then you press the image stabilization button and the object basically "freezes". Jupiter's moons are easy, whereas I'm never really sure if I can see Jupiter's moons in my 7x50 binoculars when I'm hand-holding them without the image stabilization. I bought these binoculars for bird watching but now I routinely use them for astronomy.

Can you really see something with that small Binocular?

symbolipoint
Can you really see something with that small Binocular?

Of course. Like I said in my Post #7, you need to think carefully about what you are expecting to see. With these binoculars the disk of Jupiter and the four Galilean moons are easy to see. The moon shows a lot of detail. The Andromeda galaxy is clearly visible, but it is a hazy elliptical blob (the Andromeda galaxy is visible to the naked eye if you have a dark sky). If you look at Andromeda and are expecting to see the image below, you will be disappointed no matter what you buy.

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at94official
at94official
If you look at Andromeda and are expecting to see the image below, you will be disappointed no matter what you buy.

View attachment 227996
Of course, Hahaha.

Thank you,
Austin

davenn
Homework Helper
Gold Member
People in the city see no galaxies. Would they need to go to places away from city to see those? All people in the city can see are stars and planets. (moons of Saturn and Jupiter, too).

lomidrevo
People in the city see no galaxies. Would they need to go to places away from city to see those? All people in the city can see are stars and planets. (moons of Saturn and Jupiter, too).

In city you can see only the brightest stars, with magnitude up to 4.5 approximately by naked eye. Telescope or binos would show more stars, but for sure, much better is to go out of the city for darker sky. Actually I haven't try it, but maybe Andromeda galaxy could be seen even in the city after using a bigger scope with a proper magnification. But generally, for observing galaxies, you need dark sky, at least some suburb area.

Last edited:
Homework Helper
Gold Member
In city you can see only the brightest stars, with magnitude up to 4.5 approximately by naked eye. Telescope or binos would show more stars, but for sure, much better is to go out of the city for darker sky. Actually I haven't try it, but maybe Andromeda galaxy could be seen even in the city after using a bigger scope with a proper magnification. But generally, for observing galaxies, you need dark sky, at least some suburb area.
GoodPoint! I definitely remember just as you said.

skystare
It isn't either/or between binocs and a telescope; I'd recommend both. As has been mentioned here, it's difficult to hand-hold binocs beyond 10 power so best bet is 7 or 10 x 50's. Used is fine, but look online for advice on how to check for alignment and other abuse-related problems.
An 8" dob is a good fun-per-dollar instrument, but another possibility is a refractor in the 80 to 100 mm range with a focal length of 80 to 100 cm. An achromat will do, an apo is unnecessary as an f10 focal length should give clean, sharp, contrasty images up to about 200x, and it will have the advantage (over a dob) of needing no mirror cleaning or collimation, having no tube current/mirror cooling issues, and being somewhat handier to haul around. All useful factors, particularly for short observing sessions.
For either scope be sure to get a good finder, either a Telrad type or a 5 to 7 power 50mm. A cheap finder is a torment.

davenn