Not that long ago, viewing the wonders of the cosmos required years of study and incredibly complex, and subsequently expensive, equipment. Through modern innovation and scientific advancement, telescope technology has finally evolved to the point of accessibility where even an amateur astronomer can discover an object in the solar system before a researcher. However, while it is now more accessible, it still isn't exactly cheap to get into.
Astronomy equipment is expensive
Entry to immediate-level telescopes can cost anywhere from $300-$800, which, depending on your budget, can be a rather steep expense. Everyone who has dabbled in astronomy knows that higher apertures equal better observing, but also a near-exponential increase in pricing. In other words, to fully appreciate the field of astronomy, you'll need eventually need access to or own a telescope.
So, if you don’t have enough money to buy a telescope, and prefer to dive right into the basics with a hands-on approach, is there a way to learn without equipment? There is now—using a remote telescope network!
Learn astronomy basics using remote telescopes
Many universities and institutions with telescopes have certain free-use days or submission forms anyone can use to book time with their equipment. Usage of these telescopes is typically quite restrictive, and access is often not year-round. An easier way to use more advanced telescopes is by using a remote telescope access service.
Telescope Live, first conceived in 2016, is a live remote network of high-end robotic telescopes. The platform allows users anywhere in the world online access to advanced telescopes across the globe. They range in size from 10cm to 100cm and come with additional tools and features, such as a variety of filters and automated observation scheduling. The web-application itself (and its UI) is incredibly easy to navigate and is generally intuitive. Beginners or people who are a little rusty will be able to get a high-end telescope up and running within a few minutes—and without a manual.
The classic way to learn
There are plenty of books, videos, and free online courses teaching the basics of astronomy. Most of these resources are exceptionally thorough and beneficial to both budding and seasoned astronomers. While not the most glamorous method of learning the basics, knowledge is knowledge. Astronomy, and every other scientific field, is fuelled and kept alive by an endless pool of curiosity—if you’re interested in it, there will always be those willing to teach it.
Overall, though there aren't too many options, it is entirely possible to learn the basics of astronomy without owning any equipment. You can take university courses, teach yourself through online resources and books, or learn hands-on using an array of advanced telescopes.