A Beginner's Guide to Astronomy

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Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences and one which has intrigued and fascinated mankind since the beginning of time. It is often confused with astrology, much to the chagrin of astronomers and amateurs deeply interested in the subject. One of the most popular astronomers in the country has said that astrology, which suggests that human character and destiny are influenced by the stars, is totally without foundation, and the best that can be said for it is that it is fairly harmless so long as it is confined to seaside piers, circus tents and the columns of tabloid newspapers. The great attraction of astronomy is that amateurs can not only enjoy an absorbing pastime and hobby but also, through their observations, make contributions to the advancement of knowledge. This is one science where the professionals really do appreciate the help of amateurs, who, over the years, have made many important discoveries including comets, minor planets and supernovae. It is hoped that this little guide will encourage more people to take a greater interest in the sky above them. Even in these light polluted days, much can be seen with the naked eye and a simple telescope is not an expensive item. It is really thrilling to observe the surface of the moon in detail or, using your telescope, study the rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus or discover Andromeda, which is a galaxy as immense as our own. This is not a cold science. The sky and the stars have always captivated man and influenced his emotions as well as his mind. 

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