In an effort to help those new to retirement or those approaching retirement find stuff to do, I am starting a new series of posts called Things To Do.  Let’s face it, while some of us have a rich life outside of work, many do not.  Between career and family, many of us have little time for ourselves.  Don’t believe it, just read a few retirement forums.  Scores of people are clueless as to what to do with their free time in retirement.  They just aren’t used to having free time, much less filling that time with fun stuff to do.

The easy to view Orion Nebula. You can see this one with binoculars.

Astronomy has a been a long time interest of mine.  The dynamics of the universe is incredibly fascinating.  Just considering the vastness of space blows my mind.  I mean how many other beings might be out there among the billions of other stars in our galaxy, not to mention the other galaxies?  Questions like those can be pondered for hours peering up at the stars on a summer night.

The best thing about astronomy is that its not reserved only for the well-funded scientists huddled in observatories.  Anyone can begin observing the universe with a telescope and see amazing things.  I recently broke down and finally bought a telescope.  I’ve always wanted one, but just never got around to buying one.  Mine cost less than $250 and I can see the rings of Saturn and distant galaxies and nebula quite easily.

This is what Saturn looks like in my modest telescope. Imagine what it might look like through a larger scope!

And from that humble beginning the sky is the limit, pun intended.  Bigger telescopes and better optics can allow you to see more distant objects.  Tracking telescopes can follow an object for hours allowing photography of those objects.  Most telescope types are very simple devices and can be built by a do-it-yourslefer.  Learning the sky is both interesting and a past-time of men since we lived in caves.

If you aren’t ready to buy a scope, find a local club or planetarium and attend a viewing party.  You might have to stay up late, but these viewings are usually free.  You can also use the binoculars you probably already own.  You will be amazed at what you can see in an inexpensive pair of binoculars and while you save up for that telescope, you will be learning the sky.

Astronomy is an interesting and exciting hobby (I got all emotional the first time I saw Saturn’s rings).  It’s doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get started, but the possibilities for growth are endless.  Who knows, you might even find a new comet or witness a star going supernova.  For more info try these sites:

Astronomy Forum

Stellafane – Selecting a Telescope

Tonight’s Sky

Star Walk App for iPhone and iPad

Orion Telescopes (I have a SkyQuest XT4.5)