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General information for everyone


Introduction to astronomy

If you are interested in astronomy but don’t know where to start, we have prepared this general introduction, which includes some guidance on buying a telescope.


UK science
  • Find out about British astronomy in this article by Paul Murdin, former Treasurer of the Royal Astronomical Society.
  • Astronomy in the UK: download the RAS’s full-colour review of British astronomy and space science.
  • Geophysics in the UK: download the RAS’s full-colour review of British geophysics and planetary science.
  • pdfMilestones in British astronomy 1609–2009 : a summary of significant contributions to astronomy by British scientists since Galileo turned his telescope on the heavens


Fact sheets

In response to some frequently asked questions, the RAS has produced the following fact sheets:


IYA 2009


The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) was a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, marking 400 years since the monumental leap forward that followed Galileo Galilei’s first use of the telescope for astronomical observations. UK events are detailed here.



Contact an astronomer

If you can’t find what the answer to your question here, contact the Astronomy Information Service of the Royal Observatory Greenwich (email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), or the Association for Astronomy Education's 'Ask an Astronomer' service.


UK observatories

Although professional astronomers often have to use observatories in countries less affected by light pollution than the UK, there are a large number of instruments used by the amateur community or for training students.


Did you know…

The RAS has a piece of Newton's apple tree.


  • Our 'link farms' in astronomy and geophysics provide links to sources of astronomical images, guides to the night sky and other information.
  • Links to sources of astronomical and geophysical slides, photographs, memorabilia, videos etc can be found in this Library Information Sheet.



A selection of articles from the Society's journal, Astronomy & Geophysics (A&G), are available online: