Stargazing Basics: Tools, Equipment & Advice

Getting started in stargazing can be daunting. After all there’s a whole universe out there. Here Sky & Telescope editors (with more than 100 years of collective experience) will help you in the very basics. The best place to start is to simply learn the sky with the unaided eye. Our detailed star maps are accurate and easy to read. In no time you’ll know the names of the stars, constellations, and a few fun myths.

If you’d like to dive in deeper, we’ll start you off right with the best binoculars or telescopes for your buck. We’ll then provide tips and tricks for finding and imaging planets and deep sky objects, including star clusters, nebulae, and even distant galaxies. Before long you’ll be set on something that’s more than a hobby but a rewarding life-time journey.

Party with the Stars

Want to gaze at the Milky Way all night or peer into the eyepiece of a 12-foot-tall telescope? Then escape the city lights and head for the nearest “star party.”

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Beating the Seeing

"Seeing" — the atmospheric quivering that fuzzes out high-power views — is the bane of every telescope user. Here's how to minimize its impact.

Getting Started in Astronomy

An easy guide to exploring the universe is just a quick download away. This PDF document contains valuable tips for beginner stargazers, a detailed Moon map, and six bimonthly star charts for either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

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Power and Aperture in Binoculars

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.