How to Use a Telescope

For those interested in learning how to use a telescope, the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society is offering a free online course in amateur astronomy. The five part course starts on January 23, 2021 and is a great way for those who received a telescope for Christmas to learn the basics of star gazing.

How to Use a TelescopeFor the first time ever, the annual lecture series is being offered online via the video conferencing service Zoom. Participation is free and those interested in attending can register here. Registrants will be provided with the Zoom meeting ID and password, along with comprehensive notes for each installment of the series.

This is a class of personal enrichment to introduce participants into amateur astronomy and help them with learning how to use a telescope. It is not for those that need to fill a college science credit, but for people that only care about enhancing their knowledge of the cosmos. This is a great way for people to challenge and better themselves while self-quarantining this winter during the pandemic.

Following is a schedule for the class:

Part 1: Our Place Among the Infinities

Saturday, January 23, 2021


For a long time, the stars were merely pinpoints of light on the black backdrop of the heavens. Before massive mountaintop telescopes came along, all we could observe were the Sun, Moon, planets, their satellites, and the occasional comet. Today we know that those pinpoints of light are distant suns and that we live in a remote corner of one galaxy amongst billions. For our first presentation, we’ll travel through our solar system, explore the star clusters and nebulae of our Milky Way Galaxy, and the countless other galaxies in this vast, infinite universe.

Part 2: Discovering the Night Sky

Saturday, February 6, 2021


Is that a bright star or a planet? Where’s the constellation Orion? Your first task as an amateur astronomer is to learn your way around the night sky. Learn how to find any star or constellation in the night sky with the use of a simple star map. We’ll also look at several of the best books geared toward the novice stargazer and the many sophisticated planetarium programs for your home computer.

Part 3: Binocular Basics

Saturday, February 20, 2021


Every amateur astronomer, novice or advanced, should own at least one good pair of binoculars. They make an ideal first “telescope” because of their wide field of view, ease of use, portability, versatility, and low cost. Several types of binoculars are available, but which ones are best for astronomy? You’ll be amazed at what you can see!

Part 4: Telescope Tutorial

Saturday, March 6, 2021


Sooner or later, every amateur astronomer faces the decision of purchasing a first telescope. There are literally hundreds of choices today! What’s the difference between a refractor and reflector? Which telescope is the right one for you? To make this daunting task easier, we’ll compare several of the top telescopes available today and tell you which ones to avoid. We’ll also look at the countless array of accessories available for your telescope.

Part 5: The Art of Astrophotography

Saturday, March 20, 2021


Astrophotography is the art of photographing the night sky. In the past few years that art has undergone a revolution as digital cameras have overtaken their film counterparts. In some ways this has made the field more technical, but in many ways shooting the sky is easier than ever! We’ll start with the basics like using a stationary photographic tripod and work our way up to imaging with sophisticated CCD cameras. Constellation patterns, the Milky Way, the night-to-night motion of the planets, bright comets, northern lights, and perhaps a meteor all await you.

You can learn more here.

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