Yesterday I presented my beginners guide to observing and buying a first telescope at the Inverness Urban Astronomy gathering. Here is my 2020 recommendations for good starter equipment.
1. Binoculars: 8x40s or 10x50s. Prices from £50 for decent ones. I personally use Olympus DSP1s and we’ve purchased these for both the Abriachan and Merkinch outreach programmes.
2. Telescope: Skywatcher 150mm or 200mm dobsonian. Simple to use with great performance. Prices from £175. Get the 200mm if you have the space and extra cash to spend.
3. Books: Left Turn at Orion and Stargazing for Dummies. From £15 each.
4. A red light LED headtorch. From £6 if you go to Tesco’s. Up to £30 for a good quality one.
5. A planisphere. They cost around £10 and can be found in good book stores.
Of all the items above I’d say binoculars are the most important. People are often surprised to discover I do over 90% of my observing with a simple pair of 8x40s. You can read an earlier post on the merits of hand held astronomy here.