The New Astronomers' Group is an introductory course for new members that includes: 1) Amateur Astronomy 2) Science of Astronomy 3) History of Astronomy.
A novice observing program of the 36 brightest stars and their surrounds is included to help you get started observing night sky. All ASV member are welcome to join our meetings which are held each third Wednesday night, 7:30 to 10pm.
Contact: Ken Le Marquand, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Over the years I've had many retired people who finally found time to pursue a long held interest in the night sky joining NAG. But members of all ages attend. We are the opposite of an "on-line" Astronomy course offered by an education facility like a University. We can't compete with such resource rich offerings. Instead the New Astronomers' Group is an opportunity to meet and connect with other members (much like yourself) starting out in Astronomy. Q&A with an amateur astronomy focus are key. Prior knowledge of Astronomy is not required. An interest to learn is essential. With 1500+ members and almost 20 sections, the ASV can be a daunting place to find your way. I hope the New Astronomers' Group helps your first steps into the ASV a little easier.
"Where do I start with observing the night sky" is an often-asked question. The New Astronomers' Group has a Novice observing program to help you learn the 36 brightest stars. Large chunks of the night sky will begin to look familiar as you start piecing the Constellation jigsaw together. While dark skies are ideal they are not necessary when starting out. Your backyard is certainly the most convenient and recommended place to start. Find a place away from the glare of your local streetlight. You may find a few observing spots to avoid obstructions like trees and chimneys. The Novice observing programme includes monthly tips like: using a planisphere and red torch, binocular basics, reading horizon charts, etc... Over the course of the year we hope to show you how constellations change with the seasons. When the weather permits a night sky tour is conducted at the NAG meeting from the backyard. An ASV Loan telescope is available to us, or we can finish early and open up the observatory to look through the 20" club scope. Some members need assistance with using their first telescope. You are welcome to bring yours along for advice and/or assistance (a clear night is best).
My job as Section Director is to introduce you to the major areas of Astronomy (see meeting calendar). Astronomy is not only a hobby to Amateurs like ourselves, it is also a Science with a network of professionals, educational institutions, research facilities that include world class ground telescopes, and space based astronomy. The New Astronomers' Group is an introduction to the basics and essentials of the Astronomical subject at hand. I encourage all to pursue further information through other ASV Sections, the ASV Library for books, magazines, and other reference material members can borrow for free. You will find recommendations in NAG monthly notes.
Your job is to discover where your astronomical interests lie. By the end of your 12 months with NAG you will hopefully have connected with one (or more) sections of the ASV, met some other ASV members, started observing wonders of our night sky, made it to a field trip or ASV Star Party.
Telling you there are Dwarf, Normal, and Giant stars is like telling you there are Small, Medium, and Large fish in our Oceans. The truth is there is so much more diversity out there in an ecosystem waiting to be explored further.
Astronomy is arguably the oldest Science. Much of the Astronomy news we see/hear is published under the banner of exciting new discoveries using the latest technology. Yes, there is truth in that, but it is also true the discoveries of today are based on hundreds, even thousands of years of historical discoveries. Only by standing on the shoulders of giants who came before us does our technology see a little further ahead at each step. For this reason history is woven into the text of the NAG course notes to add perspective and context to what we are learning. The history of Astronomy contains some of the greatest discovery stories ever told.