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Learning About the Sky

Stargazing Simplified

Learn some of the classic stargazing sights that can be best viewed through a smaller telescope.

FAST

Professional Telescopes

FAST Radio Telescope Open for Business

China recently unveiled FAST, the world's largest single dish radio telescope.

People, Places, and Events

Old Radio Telescope Restored for New Uses

Abandoned for 25 years, a 12-meter antenna once used during the Cold War is now introducing astronomy students to the radio universe.

Binoculars

Binoculars: Guides and Recommendations

Binoculars for Astronomy: Ultimate Guide to Selecting and Buying

Ordinary binoculars are your ideal "first telescope." And they're so versatile that even seasoned stargazers find them indispensable.

telescopes big and small

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

What to Know Before Buying a Telescope

Looking through a telescope introduces you to a whole new world of unexpected wonders. But telescopes come in a huge range of sizes and shapes. Here's a detailed, printable guide to the essential features that every good scope needs to have.

Orion Nebula

Celestial Objects to Observe

New Telescope? Learn How to Use a Telescope and See Amazing Sites

Thousands of telescopes are given and received as gifts during the holidays. But once you've assembled your new treasure, then what? The editors of Sky & Telescope show you where to look first.

Galileo

Stargazing Basics

Stargazing with Early Astronomer Galileo Galilei

When Galileo Galilei first turned a telescope to the heavens four centuries ago, he discovered amazing things — and you can follow in his footsteps.

Refractor

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

Top 10 Telescope Questions & Answers on How to Use a Telescope

Here are common questions about telescopes culled from an expert’s mailbag.

Collimate Newtonian Reflector

Stargazing Basics

How to Align Your Newtonian Reflector Telescope

Accurate optical alignment is neither difficult, mysterious, nor time-consuming. In fact, it's only three steps away.

foam-pad dew shield

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

Dealing With Dew: Dew Heaters, Dew Shields and More

How to keep your optics dry and clear even on the dampest, dewiest nights.

warm air from mirror

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

How to Successfully Beat Atmospheric Seeing

"Seeing" — the atmospheric quivering that fuzzes out high-power views — is the bane of every telescope user. Here's how to minimize its impact.

astrophotography

Astrophotography: Tips & Techniques

Guiding a Telescope for Imaging Like a Pro

Taking deep-sky pictures requires a skill that's involved in no other kind of photography: guiding on a star.

Telescopes at NEAF 2016

Stargazing Basics

Ultimate Telescope Buying Guide

A no-nonsense primer to an astronomical rite of passage.

Removing Mirror

DIY: Astronomy Projects & Guidance

How to Care for Your Telescope Optics the Right Way

The mirror in your telescope will probably work fine with a bit of dust on it, but if it's really dirty, you may want to clean it — carefully!

Westerlund 2 as viewed by Hubble's WFC3

Science-based Q&A

What does “true color” mean in a deep-space photograph?

What does “true color” mean in a deep-space photograph? How would a galaxy or nebula actually look to the naked eye from close up? “True color” is how an object would look if you were nearby or were viewing it in a telescope under a dark sky, and if its…

Schmidt-Cassegrain

Hobby-based Q&A

Why do Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes have focal ratios of f/10?

Why do most if not all of the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope I see advertised have focal ratios of f/10? During the past 20 years or so, amateurs have favored shorter tubes for both refractors and reflectors, even if it meant paying for more costly optics. Portability is the chief motivation -…

Astronomy Questions & Answers

How can I see more colors through my telescope?

Nebulae and galaxies invariably look like shapeless, colorless blobs in my 6-inch telescope, a far cry from their spectacular appearance in photographs. If I buy a 12- or 14-inch scope, will I see a dramatic improvement? Would that it were so! A larger telescope will better reveal the shapes of…

Astronomy Questions & Answers

Can you get sharper images by stopping down your scope with a cardboard mask?

Old astronomy books often say you can get sharper images on a night of poor seeing by stopping down your telescope with a cardboard mask so it has a smaller aperture. New books don’t mention this. It this a forgotten secret? In my experience, if stopping down a telescope sharpens…

Eyepiece Barrels

Astronomy Questions & Answers

Where did the 1 1/4-inch standard size for eyepiece barrels come from?

Where did the 1 1/4-inch standard size for eyepiece barrels come from?   This barrel size was adopted shortly before 1890 by John A. Brashear in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says Bart Fried of the Antique Telescope Society. Then W. & D. Mogey of Plainfield, New Jersey, and other firms followed suit.…

Saturn and Antares

Hobby-based Q&A

What was that flashing light in the sky?

I'm new to astronomy (1½ months) and I live in New Jersey. Last night, July 31st, I saw a bright planet (I assume Jupiter) in the southwestern sky, and just below it what looked like an airplane with a flashing red tail marker — but it never moved. When I…

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