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Getting Started in Astronomy

If you wish to learn more about finding your way around the sky, here are a few suggestions to get you started.


1. Here is a website that covers just about everything about Space from Universe Today. There are many easy-to-understand topics, from our Solar System to the Universe, including lists of great scientists, astronomers, space missions, and more:

Guide to Space


​2. Here is a book that you can download to learn all about getting started in Astronomy and for understanding the night sky and how we move in space. It's free thanks to the folks who wrote SkySafari6 and the Starry Night program.

Starry Night Companion

(49.3 MB  download) 

3. Here are a few videos to learn more about the tools and accessories used to observe the night sky. They are from Ed Ting, who is a great writer and reviewer.

In Part 1, Ed talks about selecting astronomy guides and what makes a good set of binoculars for stargazing. In Part 2 he covers beginning telescopes. The last video is 7 common mistakes that amateur astronomers make.  But before you ever think of buying anything we hope you can visit a star party to see what works. (Also, soon, we will have a loaner telescope program.)

Each video opens with an ad but you can click "Skip Ads" after a couple of seconds.


Beginning Amateur Astronomy Part 1 ( 14 minutes) 


Beginning Amateur Astronomy Part 2 ( 18 Minutes ) 


Last, common beginner mistakes (#1 is the most important!)


4. One of the best ways to get started is to attend a starparty. Wherever you are you there's usually one near you. Check the nationwide calendar of events at NASA's Night Sky Network. 

Here are a few handouts that can be useful:

Moon Map

Can you see the Flag on the Moon?

The Scale of our Solar System

Lives of Stars

Meteor Showers

How Telescopes Work

Is it possible to stand still?

Also checkout NASA's SpacePlace

For Further Study:

Astronomy Textbook – A free, open source Introductory textbook to Astronomy from OpenStax


Astronomy timeline – A very concise history of Astronomy


Astronomy MOOCs – A list of open courses in Astronomy


Astronomy courses – A compilation of MOOCs


Crash Course Astronomy videos – If you are new to Astronomy and short on time, these youtube videos offer a good start


Silicon Valley Astronomy lectures – Audio and video of well-known scientists explaining astronomical developments in everyday language.


Astronomy lectures – Videos of an Introduction to Astronomy course


Frontiers in Astrophysics – Video lectures from Yale university


Astronomy video – Introduction to Astronomy videos from Starship Asterisk forum


Solar System Astronomy – An introduction to solar system Astronomy by Ohio state (lectures, audio)


Astronomy notes – Introduction to Astronomy notes, recorded lectures, and practice tests from University of Northern Iowa


Mike Eracleous’s teaching page  -at Penn State University


Intech open Science – Free, Open Access Books in Physical Sciences, Engineering, Technology etc

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