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?
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.|