At the Observatory, we often get the question “What telescope should I buy?” But once you have one, what do you do with it? Maybe it’s still in the box, perhaps you found it frustrating to use, or maybe you’re ready to hunt for more advanced targets. If that sounds like you, it’s time to go to a telescope clinic!
Amateur astronomy clubs and other astronomy organizations from across the nation offer telescope clinics throughout the year. A telescope clinic brings together new telescope owners and seasoned astronomers to help new owners become more comfortable with their equipment. University of Maryland (UMD) Observatory is one such local astronomy group that hosts a clinic right after the holiday season: “New Telescope Owners Night.” During this annual event, participants can sign up for 30 minute time slots with UMD Observatory and Department of Astronomy staff, as well as local astronomy club volunteers, to explore their new telescopes. The event will take place on January 25 and 28.
The event isn’t just for brand new telescope owners. The staff and volunteers can help anyone looking to expand their skills as telescope owners, such as learning how to find fainter objects or how to balance your ‘scope.
If you don’t have a telescope to take to a telescope clinic, you can always find a local astronomy club and learn about their telescopes. You can also join us at the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory to learn more about telescopes and how you can become an astronomer. You can also ask us questions in the comments or @airandspace.
To find an amateur astronomy club that might offer a clinic near you, visit NASA’s Night Sky Network.