Astronomy Clubs - Astronomical Society of South Australia
Buying a telescope can be a costly exercise and should be carefully thought through and discussed. Attending an amateur astronomy club meeting will allow the beginner to discuss their requirements and observing interests with experienced observers as well as providing the opportunity to meet others who already own telescopes. It always helps to make the effort to learn the sky first with binoculars or the naked eye before trying to use a telescope. Even the newer computer-controlled telescopes require calibration on known bright stars.
A cheaper alternative to buying a telescope is to make your own. Amateurs have been making reflector and refractor telescope for decades and have developed cheap, easy-to-learn techniques in optical construction and testing. Many clubs run telescope making classes or can advise on where to obtain materials. There are few things more thrilling than viewing a dark clear night sky though a telescope you built yourself!
Amateur astronomy attracts a wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds which often makes it a fun social activity. Amateur astronomy clubs hold regular viewing nights and meetings where talks and lectures from amateur and professional astronomers inform the audience of the latest in astronomical advances. Topics discussed at meetings can range from "How to build a telescope" to "What is a gamma ray burster?"
As well as meetings within the club itself, most clubs are actively involved in promoting public education of astronomy by visiting schools, running public viewing nights, and appearing on radio or TV. Given the high level of public interest in space science and astronomy, it is not uncommon for amateur clubs to run several public nights a month around the metropolitan area.
Other social activities run by clubs include BBQs, weekend camps, workshops and even car rallies!
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