Home Commentary How to Get into Astronomy (And No, It’s Never Too Late)

How to Get into Astronomy (And No, It’s Never Too Late)

by Sarah Kaminski
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Many of us are fascinated by the stars. And seeing how these luminous balls of hot gas represent the “building blocks of galaxies,” it comes as no surprise that astronomers have been trying to figure them out since ancient times. (In fact, astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to around 1000 BC).

However, unlike the people who observed and recorded the movements and behaviors of these celestial objects a few millennia ago, we are now equipped with precious knowledge (and equipment) that allows anyone to get into astronomy — no matter their location, educational background, and age.

If you’re toying around with the idea of picking up a new hobby (which is good for your mental and physical health), immersing yourself in the night sky might be the right choice. So, without further ado, here’s what beginners can do to get into astronomy.

Find the Inspiration to Start

One of the most difficult things about learning something new is the challenge of getting started. This is especially true when the subject you’re interested in is as vast as astronomy (and largely depends on your existing knowledge of physics).

So, knowing that diving into the technicalities of astronomical exploration can be intimidating, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with as much inspiration and momentum as possible to ensure you stick out the first couple of months. They are bound to be the most challenging because of the steep learning curve.

A good idea for finding the inspiration to start is to surround yourself with materials that will encourage learning in a more casual way. Whether these are books, TV shows, movies, or YouTube content is entirely up to you. Furthermore, consider downloading a few beginner-friendly apps on your phone or tablet, such as the Night Sky app for iPhone or Sky Map for Android.

Find Opportunities to Enjoy the Night Sky in Real Life

Once you have a basic idea of what to look for, it’s time to put your newly acquired knowledge to use. As with most skills, astronomy is best enjoyed in real life.

With this in mind, do your best to identify opportunities to enjoy the night sky. Keep up-to-date on notable astronomical events like meteor showers and solar eclipses. And look out for news on which planets you can see each month so that you can catch a glimpse of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.

If you plan on dedicating some time to stargazing, do your best to pick the right spot. Ideally, look for a place with minimal light pollution (which is more difficult to find than ever). Ensure that there’s no cloud cover, as even the darkest of places won’t result in a pleasant experience if all you see above are clouds. And, of course, pay attention to the time of year. Some sky phenomena (like the Aurora Borealis) are only visible at certain times of the year.

Invest in Some Equipment

As an astronomer, your ability to spot new celestial objects hugely depends on your equipment (and your patience). And while a really dark sky can get you far enough, investing in a bit of much-needed equipment could be a game changer.

If you’re not yet ready to purchase specialized items, the best instrument to get you started is a pair of binoculars (ideally a pair of 7×35 or 10×50 binoculars). Supplement them with a tripod, and you’ll be all set.

Of course, if you want to observe planets or deep-sky objects like galaxies, you’ll need a telescope. The fun thing about this type of equipment is that you can make your own (amateur version). So, if you’re looking to adopt a hobby you can enjoy with family members — especially kids — the rite of passage of creating your own night-sky-viewing telescope could be the perfect start of your journey.

Join a Group of Enthusiasts

Finally, if you want to get into astronomy but have no idea where or how to start, why not look for people who have already begun their stargazing journey?

For example, the Ask Astronomy subreddit is a wonderful place to get started with this hobby. Or, if you prefer to do your research on social media, you can join the Astronomy Lovers Facebook group, follow the Astronomy Basics page on Instagram, or follow TikTok creators like Astronomy Voyage.

Moreover, search for astronomy societies in your area for a chance for a real-life meeting with fellow astronomers. And, if you’re up for an outing, visit a local observatory for a fun way to get to know our stars.

The Takeaway: Enjoy Astronomy at Your Own Pace

Getting started with any hobby — especially one as complicated as astronomy can be intimidating.

However, if your heart is set on taking in the vastness of the universe, seize any opportunity you can get to explore the universe. Sure, you may not become a professional astronomer (though you should never say never). But remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams, even when they feel like you’re reaching for the stars.

Sarah Kaminski

Sarah Kaminski

Hi I’m Sarah Kaminski, a freelance writer and social media marketer. I work with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.
I am delighted to share my thoughts here on CaribDirect and hope they resonate with you. Please let me know what you think of my posts and provide suggestions on topics you would like me to cover.
Twitter – @SarahKaminski10


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