EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
Science
Astronomy The Complete Manual

Astronomy The Complete Manual

Astronomy The Complete Manual

Astronomy The Complete Manual brings you everything you need to know to view the wonders of the night sky. From the basics such as setting up a telescope, reading star charts and using binoculars, through to star hopping, these guides will help you learn all the essential techniques. Whether you want to view Andromeda, the Galilean moons, meteor showers or craters on the moon, we'll tell you where to look and what to look for. Featuring: Astronomy essentials - Choose the right telescope and get all the equipment you need. Get started - Top tips for your first night and learn how to star hop. Seasonal guides - See what's in the sky all year round. What to observe - Guides to help you find the most incredible night sky sights.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Future Publishing Ltd
Frequency:
One-off
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in this issue

1 min.
introduction to astronomy

There’s a treasure trove of astronomical objects brimming from near enough every degree of the 20,000 square degrees that make up the night sky above your head at any one time. Standing under a vast number of twinkling stars, galaxies and planets, in the vast blackness on their orbit around Earth, we are almost looking out of a great dome-shaped window as our planet orbits around the Sun. This is known as the celestial sphere. As the seasons change, so does the night sky and as you gain a familiarity with the stars and planets you will notice new constellations and astronomical objects from winter through to autumn. Stepping outdoors into a clear night you might not realise it, but your eyes are a wonderful device when it comes to taking in…

2 min.
four naked eye sights

There are plenty of objects to see and identify in the night sky with the naked eye. Go outside on a clear night and you’ll probably already be able to name some of the more famous constellations, but you might not be aware there is so much more waiting to be observed with your eyes alone. It’s not just stars, though. Planets, comets and galaxies are all visible to an observer without any fancy equipment. Sometimes seeing and identifying an object with just your eyes can be a more rewarding experience than using a telescope to find it. Below we’ve highlighted four great sights you can see while out and about on a dark and clear night. For things like the Milky Way, you’ll need to be in an area…

3 min.
choosing the right telescope

Choosing the right telescope can be a tricky prospect, but the most important thing to be aware of when buying any telescope is its optical quality. A Newtonian reflector on a simple undriven altazimuth mount (known as a ‘Dobsonian’) offers the best value in terms of aperture. Dobsonians collect lots of light and deliver knockout views. Newtonians (and refractors) become much more costly with an equatorial or computerised mount. Computerised mounts come in several forms – Dobsonian (push-to or go-to), single tine-mounted (tracking or go-to) and German equatorial (go-to). A computerised push-to Dobsonian costs about twice as much as a manual one, while a high-end Newtonian on a driven German equatorial mount may cost ten times more. For ease of use a short focal length refractor of up to four inches in diameter…

2 min.
refractor telescopes

This instrument was turned on the sky, most famously by Galileo Galilei who observed Jupiter and its moons, the lunar surface and the Sun. Nowadays, the lenses have become bigger and developments in optics introduced doublet or even triplet lenses. These compound lenses help to reduce ‘chromatic aberration’. A single lens doesn’t focus all the colours of the spectrum at the same point, but this can be corrected considerably, by using two lenses of different shape and type of glass put close together. This type of telescope lens is called an ‘achromatic lens’, or just an achromat. These are found in just about every type of refracting telescope made today. The effect of chromatic aberration is to make bright objects appear to have a coloured halo around them. Because refractors are particularly…

3 min.
reflector telescopes

The great 17th Century scientist Sir Isaac Newton is credited with the invention of the reflector telescope, although there were others who came up with a similar idea for such a device at around the same time. In 1668, Newton produced a small telescope which used a spherical mirror made of polished metal that bounced the light reflected from it up the tube to a much smaller flat mirror at an angle of 45 degrees. This in turn reflected light through a small hole made in the side of the tube where it could be focused and viewed through an eyepiece lens. This type of telescope soon became known as the Newtonian reflector and it is still very much in use today, although its size and method of construction has taken…

2 min.
dobsonian telescopes

The Dobsonian telescope is a Newtonian reflecting telescope on an altazimuth mount. It is the mount that distinguishes it from any other type of Newtonian reflector and this was popularised in the Sixties by avid amateur astronomer John Dobson. It is their simplicity of design and cheap parts that made these telescopes so popular. There were many differing variations on the theme, some being very sophisticated and rather getting away from the humble and inexpensive materials and design. The popularity was quickly appreciated by commercial telescope manufacturers and so you can find Dobsonians as mass-produced products of varying size and quality, as well as in kit form. Dobsonians are often known as ‘light buckets’ as they are an inexpensive way of owning a relatively large aperture telescope - most of the money…