Many people think of astronomy as requiring a costly high magnification telescope. In fact the simplest and often most enjoyable astronomy can be done with just your eyes. The motions of the planets, Moon and constellations have fascinated people for centuries and are all basic observations that require no equipment.
Familiarisation with the sky usually begins with learning to identify the brightest stars, the more obvious constellations (such as Orion, the zodiac constellations, the Southern Cross), and other bright naked eye objects such as the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. Occasionally a bright comet or meteor shower can be viewed for a few weeks. The planets will move over the weeks among the constellations, often meeting in conjunctions. All one needs to view these types of objects is some patience, a basic guidebook, and a cloudless night sky!
Once the "clockwork" of how the sky moves is learned, it is easier to understand the more complex concepts of orbits, precession, stellar evolution and cosmology, which are all part of the modern science of astronomy.
Use of binoculars is the next natural step and reveals a wealth of detail under a dark sky, including Jupiter's moons, lunar features, star clusters and the brighter nebulae. The higher magnification provided by binoculars or a low power telescope also make it easy to get lost among the constellations so a star atlas or guidebook is always handy. To prevent glare reducing the night sensitivity of the eye most astronomers use red tinted torches when using star charts.
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