Gearhead: Inexpensive Firstscope a great way to see the night sky

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Who isn’t fascinated by the night sky, with its ever-changing moon, shooting stars, comets, constellations, planets and other celestial bodies and phenomena?

When it comes to star-gazing, Sonoma County residents are in luck: we are home to the Robert Ferguson Observatory. Located far from city lights and nestled into Kenwood’s Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, it’s open to the public at least one night each month for a star party, when the observatory’s three main telescopes are open for public viewing. Visit their website for more information.

If you want to observe the stars more often, becoming an amateur astronomer in the process, Celestron’s Signature Series Firstscope is an excellent and inexpensive way to get going. It’s light in weight, portable, has a sleek design, and is simple to use.

A Dobsonian-style telescope (using mirrors, not lenses), it has a spherical glass mirror and a 76 mm aperture. To move your viewpoint around the sky, you simply rotate the axis in the desired direction. The Firstscope offers a wide view and offers crisp details — you’ll get sharp, clear views of the moon’s mountains and craters, for instance.

The Firstscope comes with a 2-year warranty and an PDF download eBook about lunar landscapes by Robert Reeves, one of the world’s most famous moon photographers. $54.95.

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