So, you have a general interest in astronomy, no optical equipment, and want to take a low budget approach to obtaining equipment and support material ie you are as tight as possible with your cash?-then this is a good place to start! There is a wealth of data on the web (and in your local library) covering all aspects of astronomy-don't limit yourself to the data on this site, it only scratches the surface-I did not want to produce a page with hundreds of links to external sites as they constantly appear and reappear etc-the links I have included here are in because I use the software (or used the software to produce an actual tool or aid). Therefore, I can vouch that they are useful, and worth looking at. (These are all links to other websites)

Planispheres make your own-save several quid-acetates and a photocopier access required-great for getting familiar with the constellations-just rotate the disc to current time and date and you get a view of the sky from your part of the world
Setting circles with these attached to a dobsonian telescope mount, and using software star charts you can locate stars by azimuth and elevation fairly accurately-great for finding low magnitude objects-this program prints the setting circles for you-also software for palmtops
Star charts You can buy hard copy-(expensive! £20 plus!), purchase software-£40 plus!-or look for freeware-there is some amazing stuff available for the cost of a 20-40 minute download-the link here is for "Ciel"-I find it excellent-gives ra/dec and az/alt charts-fully customisable and user friendly

What to see?

Satellite/spacecraft launches

satellite database

general astronomy

David Ratledge

Richard Bell

satellite links

Well apart from satellites you will want to view planets, galaxies, nebulae, the moon etc-buy Astronomy Now-it is excellent for all astronomy aspects-with guides for what to look for at specific times of year-on the web there is loads of stuff-here are a few I often look at:

The satellite database gives a good description of all types of satellites

David Ratledge has a good site with detail on telescope making and accessories; there is also a good selection of his own photos which show the type of solar system and deep sky objects which can be observed with a 6" newtonian.

From Richard Bell's site there are links to a lot of astronomy based home pages.

An excellent resource for all satellite related data.

Leo Barhorst This home site has satellite database, observations and tables of artificial satellites
Your latitude & longitude Need this data, not sure where to find it? This link can give the co-ordinates-all you need is a postcode or address-an excellent resource (it's free)-and great fun! (a lot easier than trying to get info from ordnance survey)
Earth and its reference system Not sure what Right Ascension (RA) and Declination(Dec) mean, how it relates to Altitude (Alt) and Azimuth (Az)? download this tutorial to get a better idea of celestial co-ordinates.

Click here for Deep Space Explorer!

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