On September 6th I attended a 3 hour Quick STARt class taught by Dave Ittner at the Houge Park clubhouse in San Jose. He covered many fundamental aspects of astronomy that were enlightening as well as essential for a beginner in amateur astronomy. Topics covered were the 3 type of telescopes used by amateur astronomers as will as the impact of light gathering, magnification, and lenses design to correct color, and much more. He covered common methods of locating heavenly objects including the use of coordinates and sky hopping using constellations. Dave describe the various classifications of stars, galaxies, planets, comets and other celestial bodies and the relationship of size, distance, and color. He explained what we could expect to see with amateur telescopes in terms of detail and how best to view and search for objects in the sky using different magnification of eyepieces. He also encouraged participants to use their naked eyes and a pair of binoculars for viewing the sky.
We then went outside to view the skies with one of the club’s telescopes and saw some stars and galaxies. The nigh sky was somewhat obscured by city lights and haze so viewing was less than optimum but for one who has never seen a galaxy that wasn’t a photo it was awe inspiring even if the galaxy was just a small smudge through the eyepiece. I wish I could view Saturn but I understand it become visible in the sky around 4-5am.
At the end of the telescope viewing participants returned to the clubhouse where they could check out telescopes and library books to take home.
This class was very interesting and a must for beginners like me who are interested in armature astronomy but know very little. I highly recommend any beginner enroll in this class. I understand you must be a member of SJAA in order to enroll but it is otherwise free and well worth attending.
Frank Geefay – new member and new to amateur astronomy.