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Amateur Astronomy & Stargazing

For many years I have been an amateur astronomer interested in the heavens and enjoy star-gazing, watching for meteors, satellites, observing the constellations, and even dabbled in a little bit of astrology for fun too.

Recently I purchased a decent quality telescope, and have built a web site dedicated to it:-

Orion Skyquest XT10i Dobsonian Telescope Reviews

The Orion XT10 telescope is a Newtonian Reflector, with a computer database which enables you to point the scope directly at stars and planets. It is called the Orion Skyquest IntelliScope Computer Object Locator.

amateur astronomy

One of the simple pleasures you can enjoy is going out into your garden at night with a set of binoculars and just sitting back on a reclining chair, letting your eyes adjust to the darkness.

You do not need a big expensive telescope to be able to enjoy the heavens.

Slowly the stars become brighter and after about 5-10 minutes you are able to see so much more than when you first came out.

When you first look up, everything looks static and lifeless, but you will be surprised how much activity you can see.

Just keep your eyes gazing up, and within the space of 10-30 minutes you can almost be guaranteed to see communications and weather satellites. They are easy to spot against the motionless background of the stars. You will see a tiny pinprick of light, which will probably appear to be flickering as it revolves reflecting the sunlight as it moves across the night sky, until it passes into the shadow of the earth and vanishes from sight.

Meteorite showers are quite common in the summer, and again are quite fascinating to see.

What amazes me is the incredible speed of a meteorite as it enters the earths atmosphere. For these you have to just look upward and not focus on any particular part of the sky, just try to take in the whole field of view. Be patient, and after a while very suddenly you will see a bright point of light shoot incredibly quickly across a section of the sky.

It burns up and is gone within a half of a second! And yet it traversed maybe 30 degrees of sky - Amazing!

If you are watching with someone else you both have to see it at exactly the same time, because it is gone too quickly to be able to point it out to each other!

Those hunks of rock have travelled millions of miles across the infinite boundaries of space, who knows from where they came. And you were probably the only person to have just witnessed its final dying moments, as our protective cushioning atmosphere saved earth from the meteor's destructive mass, and it exhausted its kinetic energy in a fiery display, which for a brief moment looks more like a white laser beam has scratched the black sky.

If you would like to explore the heavens and get a more intimate knowledge of the planets, our solar system, the moon, constellations, and galaxies and be able to track man-made satellites too, I highly recommend the software from www.StarryNight.com. It is probably the best and most realistic astronomy software you can find, and it has an excellent range of astronomy software products for junior astronomers, to professional astronomy software that integrates with telescope tracking modules. Prices range from just $25 to about $250. It is incredibly easy and fun to use, and allows you to explore deep space and travel through time, view distant galaxies or close ups of the moon, and naturally it shows in real-time the current positions of the objects in the sky so you can look them up on your computer, then go outside and view them with your eyes, binoculars or telescope.
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