Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any prerequisites to being a member of the CAAC?
Only an interest in astronomy. The CAAC caters to all skill levels, whether you've been into astronomy for 20 years, or have a newly found fascination with the skies.
When should I buy a telescope?
Many new telescope owners can find setting up their gear, and locating objects challenging. It's best to try out some of the different types of telescopes/mounts available before making an expensive investment in a piece of equipment that frustrates you (see: Does the CAAC have a telescope that I can borrow?). Once you have a basic understanding of the night sky, and can locate a few objects, you might be ready for a telescope!
What kind of telescope should I buy?
This is the most common question from folks who are new to astronomy; unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The general consensus among amateur astronomers is to avoid telescopes that sell for less than $250, or anything that is purchased from a children's store. There are a variety of websites that can assist you with your decision, such as here, but first hand experience is indispensable. Membership in the CAAC, or a nearby astronomy club will expose you to a variety of telescope options, and members are typically more than happy to share their experience and equipment with others.
Does the CAAC have a telescope that I can borrow?
Yes! The CAAC has a Telescope Loaner Program (Available to CAAC Members Only). This is a great way to learn more about the night sky, and to experience views from your own backyard! The CAAC also has a dark sky observatory with three magnificent examples of the common telescopes manufactured today, albeit much larger versions.
How often, and where does the CAAC meet?
The CAAC meets on the third Friday of every month at Myers Park Baptist Church (click here for directions) from 7pm-9pm, except in December. The December meeting is replaced by the club Christmas Party. If you're interested in the club, or would like to be a member, please join us for an astronomy related lecture, refreshments, and camaraderie.
How many members do you have?
How can I be a member of the CAAC?
Attend a monthly meeting, and see the club treasurer. Membership fees can be found here.
How can I get the CAAC to come to my school/church/organization/etc for a star party?
Public outreach and sharing astronomy is a core tenet of our organization; though we can't accommodate every request, since our club is all volunteers, and the weather/sky doesn't always cooperate with the type of event being requested. Our Outreach page has more information on the types of programs available, as well as the link to request an event (hosted by the Night Sky Network).
Where can I learn more about astronomy?
Become a member of The Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club, subscribe to 'Sky and Telescope' and 'Astronomy' magazines, buy a comprehensive astronomy book, or take an astronomy class at your local college or university. There are plenty of ways to expand your knowledge of the universe, what are you waiting for?