What’s the big deal with a telescope? Why should I go to the observatory? Why might I want to own one? The answer is that there are thousands of objects to see in a telescope that are either not visible to the unaided eye or will appear in much greater detail with telescope magnification.

A few disclaimers … Items in a telescope are much smaller than they appear in magazines or on the internet. They are usually shades of gray and usually not in color. Before you buy a telescope, we recommend that you check in with either an astronomer at the observatory (humbleisd.net/observatory) or the local astronomy club (astronomyclub.org — The North Houston Astronomy Club).

The first class of objects to see are those in our solar system: the moon, planets, moons of the other planets, comets and asteroids. The moon shows us many more details in a telescope, and the planets look like disks, and often show us details (Saturn’s rings, and Jupiter’s Great Red Spot).

Stars are visible, but even with a large telescope, they still appear as points of light. Sometimes you can see their faint companion stars.

Then there are the deep-space objects. These include star clusters (open star clusters and globular clusters), nebulae (emission, reflection, dark, planetary and supernova remnants), and lastly, other galaxies (beyond our Milky Way). Each one is unique and awe inspiring.

Be sure to register for the next public night at the observatory. Reservations are required and space is limited. humbleisd.net/observatory

Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.

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