Join now! Your astronomy adventure begins here

Whatcantheysee

What can they see through their telescope? We’re not sure what has grabbed our observers’ attention. But one thing they definitely have seen is how their interest in astronomy got a great boost from joining the Society for Popular Astronomy! 

If you’ve reached this page we know you’re into astronomy, but maybe you’re a beginner rather than a fully fledged astro expert. If so, you’ve come to the right place. The Society for Popular Astronomy has been helping beginners for many years, and thousands of people began their astronomical interest with us – including some top professionals! At just £23 a year we offer excellent value!

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Membership benefits

For a start, you’ll receive our acclaimed, members-only magazine, Popular Astronomy, six times a year. (Scroll down to browse through a sample issue!) There are meetings too, currently online, offering talks by leading speakers, a fun-packed Pop Astro Live show every week on Facebook, plus several observing projects you can take part in.

You may be thinking of buying a telescope yourself, or getting to know the stars better. We have masses of advice on these topics, so explore our website and see what we have to offer. And watch this two-minute video to find out more about the SPA. We hope you join us soon!

What can I see through an affordable telescope?

If you’ve seen the amazing pictures in astronomy magazines you may be hoping to see something of the sort through a telescope. The good news is that you can get some excellent telescopes these days for around £150–£200 that will show you closeup views of the Moon, details in Saturn’s rings and the belts of Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, as well as hundreds of deep-sky objects. But just one word of warning – the glorious colours that you see in nebulae and galaxies mostly aren’t visible even with big telescopes. Sorry about that – but we tell it straight.

There’s a good reason for it. Human eyes are not sensitive to colour at low light levels, and even big telescopes can’t cram enough light through your pupils to show the colours that are actually there. But even so, there’s a great thrill in seeking out those distant galaxies, and even with small telescopes in good conditions you can find galaxies that are literally millions of light years away.

We have an article which gives you masses of information about choosing your first telescope, so take a look at that before taking the plunge.

How do I learn the sky?

Many smartphones these days have apps that will tell you what stars are in the sky when you hold them up. Great! But do you actually learn the sky that way? Probably not. But we have a secret weapon for you – an article that talks you through learning the constellations step by step. At the end there is a guide to the sky for each month which shows you the main stars and patterns. Sorry, cobbers, it’s for the UK only.

And this month we’ve got a short video shat shows you the major constellations, recorded under the real sky.

For our young stargazers we have a separate monthly sky page that gives more info, and tells you more about what planets and other features are on show. Older stargazers are allowed to look at it as well.

Why not join us?

As you’ve seen, the SPA has lots to offer the beginner. And the cost is amazingly reasonable – just £23 for adult membership for the UK, or £16 for those under 18. For that you get six copies of our society magazine Popular Astronomy a year, full of informative articles about both professional and amateur-level astronomy. A special feature of each issue is the reports from our observing section directors, which show you just what other members have been seeing in the sky over the past few months. You could see your own observations in print!

Don’t just take our word for it – leaf through this recent online copy and see for yourself.

Like what you see? You can join us within minutes with a debit or credit card. Just click on the link below to go to our joining page.

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