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Written by Catherine Davis   

Astronomy.jpgFrom simple star gazing to more in depth study, astronomy can be a fascinating and enlightening hobby. Astronomy is also one of the few sciences where amateurs can and do make significant contributions towards important discoveries.

Astronomers observe celestial objects and phenomena such as planets, moons, asteroids, comets and meteor showers to gain a better understanding of the formation and development of the universe.

Amateur astronomers learn to navigate the night sky with the aid of a map or chart to locate landmark stars and explore the shapes and patterns of constellations. At one end of the spectrum, they may use the naked eye; at the other, it is not uncommon for astronomers to custom build their own telescopes.

Many new astronomers opt for binoculars rather than a telescope because they are cheaper and have a wider field of view, making them ideal for many forms of star gazing. Advancements in digital cameras also mean that astrophotography is becoming a popular hobby.

There are plenty of astronomy club web sites where members discuss various topics and sightings. A lot of trading in astronomical equipment and software also takes place on line.

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