New Year, new beginnings

 
The release of the January issue marks the beginning of a new year, and this month we will all be getting excited about the return of Stargazing Live, with astro societies and clubs up and down the country hosting public events that show off the wonders of the night sky (hopefully if the weather cooperates!). There will be telescopes, observations, star parties and lots on display but, most importantly perhaps, newcomers to the hobby asking what telescope they should buy.
 
Firstly, I’d have to echo the wise words of Sir Patrick Moore and suggest for an absolute beginner - young or not so young - a good set of binoculars of either 7x50 or 10x50, which can give lovely wide field views and be a great introduction to the subject.
 
Binoculars will show star clusters, sweeping vistas of the Milky Way star fields, many of the brighter deep-sky objects, the phases and a little detail on the Moon: even the moons of Jupiter at a push. Indeed, as a seasoned explorer of the night sky, I still use my 10x50s regularly! They are ideal for planetary or lunar conjunctions and the occasional bright comet including Comet Catalina, which is currently observable.
 
This issue, Stephen Tonkin puts the Opticron Adventurer 10x50 binoculars (pictured) to good use in his First Light review, while expounding the benefits of binocular-based observing in The Guide.
 
Once you are comfortable using binoculars to navigate the night sky, the next step up is a telescope. Selecting a ‘scope to buy really depends on what you want to view and how much you have to spend. In this month’s First Light, I take a look the latest offering from Celestron; their Omni XLT AZ 102. This is a refractor on a simple, well-built mount that delivers good views of a wide range of subjects, from the Solar System through to distant galaxies without having to track them.
 
Finally, just because someone is a beginner, doesn’t necessarily mean they are new to astronomy; perhaps they are now turning to imaging the night sky. This issue, Pete Lawrence explores what the latest ZWO ASI 224 colour camera can do.
 
Make sure you get your copy of the January issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine, out Friday 18 December!

 

 

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