I've been an amateur astronomer of 15 years now and it gives me great satisfaction indeed. What started at a look at Mars when I was 8 turned into a
career and a lifelong obsession!
Right to answer your questions:
1. The best telescope firms on the market in my oppinion is Meade, Celestron and Skywatcher (my own observatory houses a 8" skywatcher reflector)
Originally posted by Max_TO
What one can expect to see ?
What a telescope can see all depends on the size of the telescope. Aperture is all important. While it is true that binoculars or a small telescope
will show you many objects like the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter, to undertake serious observing you will need at least a 3 inch refractor
or a 6 inch reflector. A telescope of this size will show significant detail on Jupiter (the equatorial bands and perhaps three or four others) the
Cassini division in Saturn's rings, many star clusters, galaxies and nebulae will be within your reach.
What are the important spec\'s to take notice of when comparing telescope\'s ?
This depends on what type of astronomy you want to do. A word of warning:
always check the optics to make sure they are good. Try and find as many reviews about the telescope and it's firm before purchasing. Never buy a
telescope which is sold on magnification alone. While it is true that many small telescopes can achieve a magnification power od 300x or so, the
image will be so dim and fuzzy that to all intent and purposes it will be useless!!
Now, if you want to specialise in deep sky stuff (galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, variable stars etc) you will need a short focal length telescope
(i.e. f/5 or less). If like me your a lunar and planetary astronomer, you will want a longer focal length tube.
Are there any filters that can help block light pollution ?
There certainly are light pollution filters, but whether you need them or not depends on two things:
1. Where you live,
2. What type opf astronomy you wish to do.
If you're into the deep sky stuff and live in a city, you will need a filter as the faint light and structure in galaxies and star clusters will
probably be lost. In the case of lunar and planetary astronomy, it is not so much of an issue because planets and the moon are very bright. Solar
astronomy of ocurse is done in the day and again a filter will be unecessary.
But most importantly , if you could just share some of your own personal experiences as a amateur astronomer .
Oh I have many stories, to many to tell. I'm montitoring Mars at the moment which is a bright orange object in Gemini. Through my telescope at
400x, the view is stunning- polar ice caps, frosts in the deep Martian vallies, evening clouds and so on.
If you have any futher questions, please don't hesitate to ask. You will find astronomy a very rewarding hobby.
Let me know how you get on.
[edit on 21-11-2007 by timelike]