Astronomy Writings

Little articles I’ve written, often in response to postings on discussion boards by beginners. Although I try to be accurate, these are my own thoughts and opinions only, nothing official.

A series of articles for beginners, on starting well and avoiding early disappointment.
An exaggerated “life in the trenches” account of a fictional beginner having a terrible time.
Avoiding disappointment by understanding what a beginner should and should not reasonably expect as they enter Astronomy
As a beginner, you’ll want to get advice on how to proceed. It’s readily available, but the quality varies widely.
General advice on choosing a beginner telescope. Pointers to good books and articles, analysis of classic beginner advice, and my own feelings and advice.
A description of the various types of Finders that can accompany your telescope, and their advantages and disadvantages.
A basic guide to setting up and aligning your telescope for use.
An introduction to the concepts and basics of operation of automated “go-to” mounts.
General advice on choosing suitable targets for a beginner’s first observing sessions.
An introduction to the basic technique for finding target objects.
A very basic introduction to the kinds of motion and activity that take place in the sky, and the effects you’ll see when you observe.
A discussion of why large aperture is important, but why it isn’t always the most important thing you need.
A discussion of how magnification is calculated and affected, how much you need, and how toy telescopes use this figure to try to mislead you.
Why you are only seeing deep space objects in Black and White.
A discussion of backlash in gear-driven mounts: what it is and what to do about it.
An introduction to the types of Astrophotography and the types of equipment and skills involved.


  1. Hi Richard, I really appreciate the amount of time and effort that you’ve put into this, it’s made a difference for me. Thank You.


    Chris Shearer
    Johannesburg, South Africa

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