Beginners Guide to Buying a Telescope

Join me on Facebook live on Sunday 29th November at 7pm for a talk and presentation on choosing and buying your first telescope.

Buying a telescope can be daunting and you’ll want to make the best choice possible for your budget and needs.

During the talk I’ll aim to answer several common questions, including:

1. How much should I spend?

2. How large is practical for my requirements?

3. What can I expect to see through different sizes of scope?

4. Can you recommend a good starter kit & some good telescopes to choose from?

PLUS an introduction to Stargazing, Binocular Observing and a What’s Up guide for December skies, including Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and more..

This talk is hosted as part of the the Inverness Nature Reserve Astronomy evenings but is open to all. We would kindly ask you to purchase an online ticket from Eventbrite by way of a donation to the astronomy programme and the Nature Reserve. I’m sure you’ll understand that times are tough for outreach at the moment so your help will be greatly appreciated. Please purchase your ticket in advance here.

Inverness Nature Reserve Astronomy Evenings

Nature Reserve Astronomy evenings will resume online this year, starting end of November with an Introduction to Buying a Telescope + short talk on the planet Mars.

Please follow this page for event links going up over the winter. Some of these events could be broadcast live if weather permits so please keep your page notifications on.

There will also be an Abriachan Forest event on the winter solstice, promoted separately.

Great Conjunction of Jupiter & Saturn

Jupiter and Saturn can be seen setting low in the SW during early evenings and you might have noticed they’ve been steadily appearing closer together in the sky. This will continue in the weeks ahead, culminating in a great conjunction in the run up to Christmas.

On December 21st, at their closest, they’ll be just 0.1 degrees apart. That’s only 1/5 of a full moon diameter! With the gas giants appearing this close together you’ll be able to view them under high magnification in the same field of view with your telescope.

Most Used Astronomy Apps

One of the most frequent questions I receive is which apps to use for stargazing and astronomy. Here’s my top 8 most used apps with a brief description of what I use them for.

SkySafari 6 – My main planetarium app that lets me see what’s up on a particular evening and plan my excursions under the stars. It also comes with useful telescope control functionality.

Dark Sky Map – Let’s me see areas of light pollution in my local area and further afield. Essential if you’re planning to stargaze somewhere you’ve never been before so you can guage darkness levels and avoid pesky light pollution.

Park4night – Once you’ve decided on a dark location getting off the road and parked can be a massive headache, especially where I live in the Highlands of Scotland where there’s plenty of dark areas but very little access. This app will show you lay-bys and parking spots for brief stops or overnight parks.

Glendale App – One of the best Aurora alert apps for tracking down the elusive northern lights.ISS Detector – My main app for seeking out and planning International Space Station passes. Works from your home location or anywhere in the world.

Clear Outside – One of the best weather apps aimed at stargazing. Summarises different altitudes of cloud cover, Moon brightness, wind and precipitation and provides you with a simple traffic light system for each night.

Compass Galaxy – I have a Samsung phone but any compass app will do to help you find north out in the field.

Phases of the Moon – The presence of the Moon is a huge deal. For Milky Way observing and deep sky astronomy you want to avoid the Moon and this app will quickly tell you the phase and rise and set times at your local position.

I should add that I’m in no way affiliated with any of these apps or software companies. This is just an honest peek into what I use to help me enjoy the night sky. I hope you find it useful.

The Veil Nebula

Around 15,000 years ago a star 20 times more massive than our Sun dramatically exploded in a region of space within the constellation Cygnus the Swan.

Since then the shockwave and expanding envelope of ejected stellar material and ionised gas has been racing apart, creating a nebulous structure over 130 light years across. This image, captured by Katie Hughes, from her home in Loch Lomond, is all that remains of this event (a supernova remnant) in visible light.

Thank you very much for sharing the stunning image Katie. Katie has recently started an Instagram page with more of her images. Please visit it here.