The sky’s the limit! It’s easy to get lost while gazing at the night sky. Speckled by distant, dazzling, little spots of light, the heavens after dusk can make anyone feel a sense of wonder. Here are the top five astronomical targets for amateur telescope users. At least we at TelescopeStargazer.com think that these are the most interesting objects in the space, that you can quite easily observe also with amateur-grade telescopes.
The Five Interesting Night Sky Objects for Astronomy Beginners
Having your first amateur telescope can be very exciting, but don’t be too quick to run outside. Before you begin, read through this simple guide, which helps you to point the telescope to the most interesting objects up there.
Whenever the nighttime sky is clear of clouds, it’s likely that you’ll easily spot the moon. Enchanting and enigmatic, the moon is one of the easiest targets for amateur astronomers because of its size and constancy. This heavenly body is almost always visible, and even during partial phases, it’s still a sight to behold.
Of course, many think that the moon is most exciting when it’s full, but in-fact plenty of amateur astronomers claim that the quarter phase is the most interesting. Displaying a strong contrast between light and dark, observing the moon when the sun barely hits its surface provides an enthralling sight like no other.
Despite being 588 million kilometers away from the Earth, Jupiter can be easily seen with an amateur telescope. This is mostly because of the size of this gas giant, measuring 142,980 kilometers in diameter. In the right conditions, Jupiter can be a very bright target, making it easy to spot even in a sky full of stars. But what really makes it an interesting night sky object is its Great Red Spot which is often visible when skies are clear.
Another of the four gas giants is Saturn. While it’s much farther from Earth than Jupiter, it can be seen with a powerful enough amateur telescope. In poorer conditions, the rings on Saturn may seem more like ears. But if you’re patient and wait for optimal clarity and season, you may be able to see the rings in their full, glorious detail.
Ranked the fifth brightest star in the Cygnus constellation, Albireo is actually composed of two different heavenly bodies but are considered as one. With the naked eye, this double star constellation looks no different from the others around it. But with an amateur telescope, Albireo’s two stars can be easily identified, especially because of the striking color contrast they display.
The cloudy nebula of Orion, otherwise named M42, is a beautiful collection of stars and cosmic dust. Because of the many different stars that compose of the Orion Nebula, it takes on a purplish hue through a telescope which is why it’s a target you may want to keep coming back to. The soft blend of bright blues and violets make this amateur target a romantic sight, guaranteed to captivate anyone who looks through the lens. So, make sure you don’t miss Orion Nebula when gazing stars next time!
Three Tips for Choosing a Target
- Consider the Size of the object. Telescopes designed for amateurs often have a very limited view of the sky. Commonly, these tools only show a small portion of an area, about the size of a full moon or smaller. Attempting to focus on big targets like constellations that are widely spread apart isn’t ideal as they’re not likely to fit in the field of view.
- Determine the Level of Difficulty. Expert astronomers often enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Locating very small, distant, or faint heavenly bodies can prove to be a worthy challenge for more experienced astronomy enthusiasts. But many amateurs may feel frustrated with these targets, especially if they’re simply relying on a star chart. Be sure to read also Guide to the Night Sky and Basic Astronomy post for more tips how to get started. If you feel that studying star charts just isn’t your thing right now, but you still want to start gazing stars, consider buying so-called GoTo telescope! It will help a lot especially at the beginning before you will understand star charts, and sure also after that as this type of telescopes are motorized, and they will find the object you wish, automatically!
- Think of the Season. The Earth is constantly moving, and therefore the sky will change as the seasons pass. Some heavenly bodies will be completely out of sight at certain points in the year. Only choose a target that you can clearly focus on given the time of night and the time of the year you’re planning to use your telescope.
Having your own telescope won’t guarantee you’ll be able to discover what the universe is hiding. However, knowing these things will help make your astronomical experience a stellar one.
Hopefully, you found some helpful ideas from this post! If you have any questions or comments about the most popular astronomical targets for beginners, please leave a reply below.