SFAA Observing Basics Series

Session 3,  7:00pm, 24 August 2021, Tuesday

“Setup and Operation of Astronomical Telescopes and Binoculars”

 Live-streamed via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook

Presented by

Bill Kircher, Amateur Astronomer, SFAA

The San Francisco Amateur Astronomers (SFAA) is excited to offer a Zoom-based Observing Basics Virtual Bootcamp series, open to newcomers and observers at all levels. This 4-part series features a robust agenda to help you make the most out of your stargazing time and equipment choices. (Members and non-Members are welcome to attend.)

The series is prepared and presented by SFAA's Vice President, Bill Kircher. As a long-time amateur astronomer, Bill has created a virtual Observing Basics course to provide a solid foundation for optimizing your night sky viewing time and equipment choices. He has learned from experience that the best telescope is the one you’ll actually use and he recommends keeping it simple, especially at the beginning.

Attendees will be able to continue to expand on what they learn in each session as we move into the summer months. We look forward to being able to meet up at SFAA star parties on Mt. Tamalpais and share the night sky with you when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Experienced telescope operators will be on hand to help with set up and questions.

The Session 3 will be held on Tuesday, August 24th at 7:00pm (PT). The date of the remaining session will be announced soon. To join the session, please see the details below with options to join the conversation over Zoom or to watch the livestream via YouTube or Facebook!

  • Session 3: “Set up and Operation of Astronomical Telescopes and Binoculars”

The session centers on the set up and use of various types of telescopes and mounts and binoculars. The main focus will be on helping participants to become familiar enough with the set up and use of their scopes (including loaner scopes) that they can participate more fully in our SFAA star parties. Topics include preparation—what to do at home, at the observing site before dark, at the observing site after dark, plus particular issues and problems with telescopes and binoculars.

  • Next Month:
  • Session 4: “Introduction to Astro Imaging”

This technical area will be presented as an overview of the different types of imaging opportunities plus the type of equipment and processing software that is needed. The steps involved in each type of imaging are all quite different and will be introduced.

What’s Up There (Stars, Moon and Planets, Deep Sky, and everything else--comets, asteroids, meteorites, satellites), plus navigation aids, layout and motion of the night sky, a virtual tour of the night sky, what can be seen with the naked eye and more.

  • Session 2: “Choosing the Right Telescope or Binoculars to Suit Your Interests, Circumstances, and Budget”(presented May 6, 2021 and available through the SFAA YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFqVZbTfdbE )

The best telescope is the one you’ll actually use. Includes assessment of your needs, level of experience and astronomy goals. Discussion of the different types of telescopes and mounts and pluses and minuses of each. If you currently own a telescope, binoculars, etc., you will be able to better appreciate the capabilities and potential of your equipment and may also consider acquiring additional equipment or accessories to complement or enhance your experience.

Webinar & Streaming Details

SFAA is excited to provide multiple viewing options. You may attend the virtual meeting "live," which includes the opportunity to participate in any chat discussions and ask questions of the speaker -or- you may attend the live-streaming event on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.

To attend the virtual meeting "live" with the opportunity to ask questions:

  • Connect by 6:45pm on Tuesday, August 24th by clicking this Zoom meeting link: https://zoom.us/j/96915345115?pwd=OWZXWHFiaUlwZEtYdWZTWGZkNTBPQT09
  • Clicking the link may prompt you to install the Zoom virtual meeting app. Once installed, you will be able to join the meeting. If the app is already installed on your device, simply enter the meeting number 969 1534 5115 and password 891781 to join the meeting.
  • Once joined, you can test your audio and video, and greet other members.
  • Board members will join the meeting early to help troubleshoot any problems with audio or video.
  • The series will start promptly at 7:00pm

Alternatively, please visit the following channels to attend the live stream:


Eventbrite registration page: