Getting Started

Getting started in stargazing can be a little daunting. The following resources will help you find your feet.

Current Sky View

This is the current sky view for the South West:

current night sky over Bristol
Sky map by AstroViewer®
Get the HTML code for this sky map

Buying and Selling

Most experienced stargazers buy and sell on specialist forums and sites, meaning that Ebay is – with occasional exceptions – full of duff and overpriced equipment. A much better site is Astro Buy and Sell, where good kit is generally sold at fair prices. Warning: as with all buy/sell sites, the usual rule applies – caveat emptor (buyer beware).

If you are thinking of buying your first telescope, please read our buyers guide first.

Light Pollution

The level of light pollution at your site makes a huge difference to what you can see. Truly dark skies are now rare in the UK.

This map shows light pollution levels in the Wiltshire area. Pink is worst, blue is best.

As you can see the only area with properly dark skies is Salisbury Plain, which is largely owned by the Ministry of Defence and so is off-limits for residential development, with all of the light pollution that brings.

To see what the light pollution levels are like at your site use this google earth light pollution overlay. If you want to see more light pollution maps visit this website.

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