Types of Observing in Amateur Astronomy

Unaided Eye Observing

Ursa Major

Unaided eye observing is a good place to start and provides key skills used in other types of observing.

Observing with your unaided eyes without optical aids is a quick, easy and low cost. Also, the observing skills developed in unaided eye observing are foundation for all other types of observing. Excellent unaided eye observing skills will result in better binocular and telescope observing. Also, one can start observing tonight if the weather corporates. Some sky objects such as constellations, meteors and large comets are best observed with your unaided eyes.

Binoculars Observing

Messier M63

Observing with binoculars is an excellent next step after learning unaided eye observing skills.

Observing with binoculars provides ablility to see more details and fainter stars than can be seen the unaided eye. Observing with binoculars is quick, easy, very portable and can be very low cost when compared to telescope observing. The large open star clusters like the Pleiades are best observed with binoculars because you can see the complete star cluster with the binoculars wide field of view. Also, binoculars observing provides skills needed for using a telescope finder to aim a telescope at an astronomical object.

Telescopes Observing

Messier M27

Observing with a telescope is the activity most people associate astronomy with.

Observing with telescopes provides ablility to see more details and fainter stars than can be seen with binoculars. Telescope observing is what most people think of when you refer to amateur astronomy and is where many people start in astronomy. Most beginners do not relize that sucessful telescope observing is based on good observing skills obtained using your unaided eye and using binoculars.

Astro Imaging

Messier M51

Observing with a camera

Observing with astroimaging with both film and CCD cameras provides recorded images that shows astronomical objects and details that can not be seen with above methods of observing. Also, it is nice to be able to review your images later and share your images with others.

Star Field