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Amateur Astronomy

Amateur Astronomy

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Published by Timothy L. Kerr
An intro to amateur astronomy and the many things you should know before you buy your first telescope.
An intro to amateur astronomy and the many things you should know before you buy your first telescope.

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Published by: Timothy L. Kerr on Nov 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ready Set Go  A Head start To the Stars and Beyond 
The Horse Head and Flame Nebulae in the Orion Constellation
 Presented ByT. L. Kerr 
Table of Contents;Preface Page 3Getting Started Page 3Glossary Page 7Prepare to purchase a telescope Page 12Telescopes Page 15
Page 15
Page 17
Catadioptric Telescopes
Page 18
Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope
Page 19
Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope
Page 19
Ritchey-Chrétien Telescope
Page 19Telescope Mounts Page 20
Alt-Az Mounts
Page 20
Fork Mount
Page 21
Page 21
German Equatorial Mounts
Page 22Celestial Coordinates Page 24
Latitude and Longitude
Page 24
Right Ascension (RA)
Page 24
Declination (DEC)
Page 25Navigating with your telescope mount Page 26
Setting Circle Calibration
Page 26
Guide Star Method
Page 26
Sidereal Method
Page 27Functions of a Telescope Page 27
Aperture Gain
Page 27
Light Grasp
Page 27
Resolving Power 
Page 28
Focal Length
Page 28
Focal Ratio
Page 28
Page 29Eyepieces (Oculars) Page 30
Exit Pupil
Page 31
Eye Relief 
Page 33
Maximum eyepiece focal length
Page 33Field Of View Page 34Magnitude Page 35The Atmosphere Page 37
Page 38
Astronomical Seeing
Page 38
Atmospheric Prismatic Dispersion
Page 39Optical Effects Page 40
Airy Disc
Page 40
Chromatic Aberration (CA)
Page 40
Page 41
Page 41
Field Curvature
Page 41
Spherical Aberration
Page 41
Page 41The skill of observing the night sky Page 42Effects of Light Pollution Page 47Accessories Page 48Internet Resources Page 55
Me with my telescopes
The majority of the information contained herein isintended for those whom have yet to neither peer intothe night sky nor yet own a telescope. However,whether you are only thinking about getting started or have already, there is a lot more information includedthat will be of interest to even those who already own atelescope.Allow me to introduce myself before we move on. Myname is Tim Kerr. As a youngster, I grew up in thegreat state of Minnesota. Although I no longer residethere, I still hold a close fondness for that area of thecountry in my heart. Currently I reside in the state of  North Carolina near the Crystal Coast.As long as I can remember, my attention has beendrawn to the sky above. Perhaps it has something to dowith growing up during the dawn of the space race tothe Moon. On the other hand, perhaps it was that thirdgrade field trip to the Minneapolis Planetarium. For whatever reason, I never managed to take the time or got around to getting myself a telescope to explorefurther and learn more about the night sky until just ahandful of years ago.I am probably one of the least qualified people to bewriting all this information down for you to read. Infact, I do not deserve most of the credit for this sincevery little of this is actually off the top of my head. Myown experience when compared to many is verylimited! There is no information here that you will not be able to find elsewhere; that is where I got after-all!You can find bits and pieces in various publicationsavailable at almost any bookstore, public library, and of course all over the Internet. So much information it willmake your head spin.I am aware that everyone is not a mathematician or  physics major, neither am I so I will be keeping it assimple as possible sticking as close to the basics andhopefully still keeping it comprehendible.There are many resources available to you on anyastronomy related topic. Some of these many resourceswill be listed here for you to reference at you leisure.
Getting Started:
Welcoming to the wonderful world of amateur astronomy. You are about to step off on a journey intoour universe only a relatively small portion of theworlds population have actually taken the time to enjoy.The number of treasures awaiting your starry eyes isunimaginable.Okay, so what exactly is Amateur Astronomy?If you want dictionary definitions here they are.
 Astronomy:1.) The scientific study of matter in outer space,especially the positions, dimensions, distribution,motion, composition, energy, and evolution of celestial bodies and phenomena.2.) A system of knowledge or beliefs about celestial  phenomena: the various astronomies of ancient civilizations.Cosmology:1.) The study of the physical universe considered as atotality of phenomena in time and space.2.) a. The astrophysical study of the history, structure,and constituent dynamics of the universe.b. A specific theory or model of this structure and these dynamics.
If you dig back far enough into ancient history, you willfind astronomy has roots in Astrology. Astronomy haslong since evolved far beyond that into a real science.Astrology on the other hand is a study of the positionsand aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that theyhave an influence on the course of natural earthlyoccurrences and human affairs.Don‘t confuse the sciences of Astronomy with themythological beliefs of Astrology. You might just find people take their astronomy seriously and will quicklycorrect you if you make the mistake of confusing thetwo.Page 3

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