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Stargazing Basics

My Place in the Dark

Twenty weekends and countless trips to the building-supplies store later, I'd done it — I had an observatory to call my own.

click here for complete diagram

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

Offsetting Your Secondary Mirror

The secondary-mirror offset is no doubt the most misunderstood aspect of collimation. Luckily you don't need to understand it to collimate your instrument.

plenty of elbow room

Stargazing Basics

An Observatory with Sails

After working at Sky & Telescope for nearly a decade I got the chance to build the observatory I'd always wanted.

dew-it-yourself heater

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

DIY Dew Heater

With just a little electrical know-how you can make an antidew heater that suits your scope.

ready for the stars

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

My "Flapping Roof" Observatory

By day my observatory looks like an ordinary (if rather grandiose) garden shed. At night the roof sections go down and back up. They "flap" like a bird's wings.

Apparent Fields

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

How to Choose Your Telescope Magnification

How high can you get? How low can you go? The answers depend on many factors that combine to give each telescope a useful magnitude range.

Aligning an equatorial mount on Polaris

Stargazing Basics

Accurate Polar Alignment with Your Telescope

Long-exposure astrophotography requires an accurately aligned equatorial mount.

Looking at the exit pupils

Stargazing Basics

A Pupil Primer: How Big Should a Telescope's Exit Pupil Be?

Image brightness, magnification, and why the old ideal of a 7-millimeter exit pupil is not so ideal at all.

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

Telescope Eyepiece Guide

A telescope is only as good as its eyepiece — and a good one can make a big difference. Here's a quick look at the different types of eyepieces available.

blueprint

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

8 Backyard Observatory Mistakes to Avoid

Here are a few potential problems that you might not see on your blueprints.

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

Binocular Basics: Glossary of Binocular Terms

Exit pupils. Eye relief. Image stabilization. What matters most for astronomers? Our expert explains it all.

outstanding collimation aid

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

Collimation Tools

Three tools are commonly used to collimate Newtonian reflectors.

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

Meade's RCX400: Raising the Bar

The 12-inch RCX400 telescope from Meade Instruments, shown on its field tripod.S&T photo by Craig Michael Utter. When Meade Instruments announced its new RCX400 line of catadioptric telescopes in early 2005, it created such a buzz in the astronomical community that I visited the company's Irvine, California, headquarters to look…

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

S&T Test Reports: Telescopes

No matter what type of telescope you're looking for — refractor, reflector, or catadioptric; alt-azimuth, equatorial, or Go To — you'll find examples among the scopes reviewed here.

STTR: Binoculars

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

S&T Test Reports: Binoculars

Almost any binocular can be used for astronomy, but if you really like viewing the heavens with both eyes, you'll check out our reviews of binoculars specially designed for stargazers.

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

S&T Test Reports: Imagers

Digital cameras, inexpensive CCDs, and sensitive video systems are revolutionizing celestial photography by amateur astronomers.

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

S&T Test Reports: Accessories

Getting the most out of your telescope often means adding filters, adapters, or other accessories to improve its optical or mechanical performance.

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

How We Conduct S&T Test Reports

Reader surveys tell us that one of the main reasons you turn to Sky & Telescope each month is to learn about new astronomical products. Thus we would like to describe the mission of S&T Test Report and the ground rules we've adopted for reviewing equipment. Most of these policies…

Equipment: Guides & Recommendations

Thermal Boundary Layers in Newtonian Reflectors

Assessing your telescope's state of cooling is the first step on the road to optimal performance.

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