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Benefits Of Using A Star Atlas With Your Astronomy Telescope

Apr 5, 2008
Recently you got a telescope, and it looks great. You see this instrument in front of you, and it looks powerful. You point it up, see the moon. Then you try pointing it at the stars, and realize you just do not have a clue about navigating the heavens!

A star atlas is an essential piece of any telescope, whether this be a home telescope or a telescope in a large observatory. Simply pointing your telescope at a shinning speck in the sky does not necessarily mean you will see great things, though depending what you are seeking.

Most of the objects in space look like the same speck, but larger! I am sure you simply did not want a magnifying glass, but an instrument that would help you see the planets and the beautiful views of the heavens, like distant galaxies and nebula. With a star atlas this becomes possible.

A star atlas can help you navigate the skies, and find objects. Now the star atlas may not be as extensive as a book, though you have a few options, which I will be getting to. The star atlas however, does help with finding where constellations are.

There are many types of star atlas, and all show you the constellations, and major objects to navigate to. Depending on the star atlas you purchase, some look circular and allow you to change the map to the time you are viewing. This is great as the Earth moves through space, so the objects seen in the sky are constantly changing. You can see this by pointing your telescope at the moon.

There are many other options also when you want to find objects in space. Extensive databases cataloging space objects can be found online. An even better option is the computer software planetariums. These planetarium software such as Redshift, allow you to see almost all objects that have been found. You can set up the software to where you are located. This planetarium then will show you the objects you can see in your backyard.

You can then find what you want to look for, and depending on your telescopes abilities, you can find the location, and take a look with your telescope. I have found this method can be useful, yet daunting. With a PC, you may need to quickly jot down the location, and go and then go back out to find the space object with your telescope. Some of the software planetarium software may allow you to print up the location or you can use your star atlas with your telescope to locate the object, once you know roughly where it is.

One of the greatest books on helping the amateur telescope user is Turn Left At Orion. This book I can not give more words of recommendation. When you get a new telescope, especially a good one, you may not have information to help you find objects in space. Most cheaper telescope brands found in toy stores may do, but I have yet to see a comprehensive 'this is how you start' guide.

A telescope coupled with a star atlas, a good astronomy book that helps the amateur telescope user and the planetarium software are keys to having a life long fun time with astronomy. Astronomy can come to life, and the stars, nebula, planets, galaxies and the many other beautiful things in the universe, can come to life in your backyard, with proper knowledge on where and how to locate objects in space.
About the Author
Here is some telescope resources that can help you find and buy a telescope:
First Time Telescope
Buy The Best Telescope
Meade Telescope Sales
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