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NHAS member Don Ware with his achromatic refractor. Courtesy photo.




An astronomical experience
How to study the stars

04/02/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



If you often find yourself gazing at the night sky, consider making it a hobby. There are groups right in New Hampshire that study the stars and constellations for fun, or you can begin to learn on your own.

Nick Brodich, the New Hampshire Astronomical Society’s newest member, joined the group in January after he and his wife, who also had a budding interest in astronomy, bought each other the same telescope for Christmas.
As a beginner astronomer, Brodich recommends finding a group such as NHAS where you can learn from others and participate in instructed sky watches. However, if you choose to go it alone, there are a few ways to get started.
“Get a few star charts,” he said. “There’s all kinds of books and literature that will give you the basics. … Secondly, spend some time outside. Instead of just looking up once in a while, actually study [the sky] and you’ll start to see some of the patterns.”
While your first instinct as an eager learner may be to go out and buy a telescope, a telescope may actually impede your learning at first.
“For low money, you can get a decent pair of binoculars,” Brodich said. “You’re better off to start with binoculars than a telescope because they let you take in the big picture and get oriented with the sky.”
The best constellation to start with? Brodich says Orion, because it’s easy to find. Then, you can use Orion as a reference point and “star hop” to other constellations.
Finally, make sure you go to a place that is optimal for stargazing. This is easier said than done — between ambient light fading out the sky and New Hampshire’s mountainous horizons getting in the way, you will probably need to try out a few different spots before you find a good one.
“Don’t get discouraged,” Brodich said. “Do your homework, be patient and you’ll be rewarded with a depth that you don’t find in a lot of other things.” 
 
As seen in the April 2, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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