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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, appropriate for 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. The series has been prepared and presented by SFAA's Vice President, Bill Kircher.

As a long-time amateur astronomer, Bill has created the 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.

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: )

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.

    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.

    This technical area presents an overview of the different types of imaging opportunities, including:

    • The different types of imaging opportunities, including Nightscapes, Solar System and Deep Sky
    • The primary types of equipment and processing software required
    • The steps involved in each type of imaging

    In this session, Bill Kircher is joined by fellow SFAA member and astro-imaging enthusiast, James Nelson, who shares his knowledge and experience with imaging deep sky objects.