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How To Use A Telescope For Research

Jul 15, 2008
Would you like to do scientific research with your telescope? Do you have a preconception that to do serious research with telescopes needs an astrophysics degree and a telescope costing millions of dollars? Not so, even with a small hobby telescope you too can do great research with your home telescope.

Galileo used a telescope which is much inferior to today's telescopes, even the telescopes your can buy for your home. Galileo saw Saturn with ears, whereas most of the telescopes available today for the home can see Saturn in greater detail. You too can participate in scientific research in the comfort of your own home, and without an astrophysics degree!

* Astronomy Research - The Moon
I love the Moon, especially when looking with a telescope. The Moon is so close to use that the Moon offers us much ability to research. We could research the luminosity of the Moon over the periods of a month, and scale everyday on a chart of maybe 1 to 10 the luminosity.

A bit trickier, would be to measure the Moons distance from us, and is fully possible even with a telescope for the home. You could make drawings of the Moons craters and check up on a map of the Moon to find out what the name of the crater is. You could take a look and find how fast the Moon really moves, by making points in the sky and measuring how long it takes the Moon to travel that arc.

* Astronomy Research - Saturn
Saturn also offers us much research, even for amateur astronomers. You can see the planet over time coming closer and going further. You can see the belt in different positions, you can view different detail, and make drawings. You can look at the moons and find there positions, and figure when they are in eclipse, in relation to you.

* Astronomy Research - Jupiter
Again with Jupiter, we can do similar research as with Saturn. You can look at that giant swirling cloud on Jupiter and use it as an indicator. Then you can find out how long it takes for the planet to revolve. Also you can observe the tilt of the planet which could easily swallow up the Earth many times over. Jupiter has many moons, so Jupiter makes a great point for research as you can see the moons around Jupiter and in different angles at different times.

* Astronomy Research - The Sun
Viewing the Sun with a telescope must NOT be done directly, as the Sun is so powerful in an instant it could render vision useless. The Sun can be viewed indirectly, however, by projecting the Suns image onto a white card or if your telescope is in your house, one way that I have used successfully is to project the Sun to the ceiling. Note it will take time to find the Sun as you can not use any of the lenses to source it into view. It is far too risky and please heed this warning.

When you project the Sun, you can find great detail such as Solar flares on occasion, Sunspots regularly. Over several days and months can see the Sun is an active and living star with constant activity.

* Astronomy Research Without A Telescope
For many years, I did not have telescope, so I was only able to do astronomy research without a telescope. All is not lost and can be great fun. You can monitor Pleiades, the Orion constellation and many other constellations in the sky, depending where you are and what time of the year it is. This serves to prove a great piece of knowledge for when you buy a telescope, as you can navigate the heavens much more easily. The Moon also offers great research without a telescope, as you can see the phases of the Moon, and still measure color, and luminosity.

Amateur astronomy research is fully possible, even with a small telescope. You can make great discoveries, and though they may not make impacts on science, it is fully possible to make a more fun and meaningful hobby. When you add to this a good and disciplined research method of cataloging your findings, you will amass a great amount of personal knowledge on the objects in the heavens. You also may be able to find the next Halley's Comet!
About the Author
Now to take action! You will need a telescope, and or astronomy binoculars , and a notebook.
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