Both of my kids are fascinated by the celestial bodies, my son John who is 15 years old have always been keen in learning about astronomy. Even when John was still a child and so is my 12 year old daughter Audrey both have been into studying the cosmos. Astronomy is a hobby that need not to be expensive. It doesn't require you to purchase expensive equips, but mainly the use of the eyes. It is a hobby which doesn't require a genius or a math wizard to understand and enjoy the heavens.
Observing under a cloudless new moon evening is the ideal viewing condition for star gazing. Even without the aid of any telescope, we can witness around 3,000 to 5,000 stars with the use of the naked eye. The soft glow that the moon reflect to the atmosphere causes a number of dimmer stars to vanish from sight. For great viewing result, you must find an area where light coming from the street or from your own house are blocked.
How do we know if what were gazing at is a star or a planet? Somewhere in the well-known nursery rhyme, 'Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are' the answer can be found. Stars twinkle. Planets are quite the opposite of stars. When the light they reflect is unblinking and steady, it is a Planet. Another way of telling you're staring at a planet is by observing it for a couple of nights, a planet would position in a different location compared to the stars which are occupying always the same spot.
To better understand the cosmos, I bought my children their own copy of Norton's Star Atlas, which is the Revised edition. This book has great celestial maps and information for new interested ones to better acquaint themselves with astronomy's vocabulary. I also purchased a planisphere and binoculars for my kids. Binoculars are most efficient tools for searching and observing comets. There was no need for me to invest in telescopes for my son John made for himself a reflector telescope with the aid of a book on how to assemble astronomical telescopes.
Reminders though, You need not have to purchase all of these items to enjoy astronomy as a hobby, for your interest in the subject may subside eventually. You don't need unnecessary spending for equipment you're not going to use for a long time. My kids appreciation of the heaven's keep on progressing, thus I acknowledge the need to invest in this equipment. Never gaze directly at the sun or even with the use of binoculars or telescopes, unless you want to go blind. It is best to examine old books for misleading unproven theories.
For my kids, astronomy is a hobby that will never cease to amaze them with endless discovery and fascinating wonders of the heavenly bodies.