Ordinary binoculars are your ideal "first telescope." And they're so versatile that even seasoned stargazers find them indispensable.
They come in a wide range of apertures. But for astronomy, large aperture is only part of the story. High magnification is just as important when binoculars are used on a night sky that's not absolutely dark.
How do you choose the right binocular for stargazing? Here's our expert's easy-to-do, step-by-step test.
Expert observer Brian Skiff explains NGC, UGC, and everything in between.
Confused by the bizarre names that astronomers have given the stars? Here's where they come from and what they mean.
Take a few minutes to learn the most important astronomy terms.
"Right ascension" and "declination" tell you where your telescope is pointed in the sky. But what do they really mean?
With the stars increasing being lost amid the light pollution of our urban areas, is there no hope for an astronomer in the city? Fortunately, there's still a lot of observing that can be done.
How high can you get? How low can you go? The answers depend on many factors that combine to give each telescope a useful magnitude range.
Image brightness, magnification, and why the old ideal of a 7-millimeter exit pupil is not so ideal at all.
In less time than it takes to read them, you can perform these tests and judge the value of any binoculars, new or used.
Amateurs long have recorded the seeing quality in their observing logbooks on a rather subjective scale of 1 to 10, with 1 hopeless and 10 perfect.
A telescope is only as good as its eyepiece and a good one can make a big difference. Here's a quick look at the different types of eyepieces available.
Exit pupils. Eye relief. Image stabilization. What matters most for astronomers? Our expert explains it all.