Welcome to the Beginners’ Forum!
We know that this is long. Thank you for reading it.
This forum was initially created to serve as a “safe harbor” where those who are genuinely new to astronomy can ask whatever basic questions come to mind. Other beginners, as well as more experienced CN members, can then join the discussion and answer the question in a way that is friendly and understandable by new astronomers. Another purpose of the Beginners’ Forum is to provide a place for beginners to share their experiences with others in the form of equipment and observing reports.
The Beginners’ Forum is not intended as a place for members (of any experience level) to hold lectures, dispense unsolicited advice, issue warnings or write ongoing blogs. We encourage members who wish to write articles or reviews on Cloudy Nights to submit them for publication on the front page. Experienced users should post their questions, observations or pontifications in more specialized fora. Those who are "new to the site" but experienced in astronomy should also head straight to the relevant fora.
Likewise, just because you are a genuine beginner to astronomy, does not require you to post questions in the Beginners' Forum. Moreover, if you are a more experienced astronomer but are a beginner to some "new to you" esoteric or niche topic (such as astrophotography), you should go post in a more specialized forum.
Any question or topic that the moderators deem to be beyond the scope of the Beginners’ Forum will be moved to a more appropriate forum or locked. For example, astrophotography questions should be asked in an imaging forum. This is due to their technical complexity and specialized interest. Please do not post astrophotography related questions to the Beginners' Forum. Deep sky astrophotography questions should generally be posted to the Beginning and Intermediate Imaging (B&II) Forum. Specific questions about, for example, Celestron NexStar systems should be posted to the Celestron NexStar Forum. Technical questions about solar observing should be posted to the Solar Observing and Imaging Forum. Computer and software questions can be posted to the Astronomy Software and Computers Forum. Specific questions about Dobsonian telescopes should be posted to the Reflectors Forum. There are many specialized fora on Cloudy Nights and a question about one of those topics would probably be better answered in a forum that caters to that topic.
We would also like to remind members not to double or cross post questions. Please choose to post in the forum that you feel is most appropriate. If you decide that your post would be better answered in an alternate location, feel free to click the “Notify Moderator” link on your message and request to move it to a different forum.
Introductions should be posted to the on-going "Introduce Yourself" thread.
The Cloudy Nights Terms of Service (TOS)
When joining Cloudy Nights, all members must acknowledge that they have read the Terms of Service. A hyperlink to the TOS is located at the bottom right of every page on the system. You can also find a copy here. We would like to take a moment to remind you of a few key points. Specifically:
- Play Nice
- Be Polite
- Be Honest
- Respect Others
Please do not use profanity or offensive language and avoid discussions that would be inappropriate for younger members, especially here in the Beginners’ Forum. If you have concerns about a post, we ask that you click the “Notify Moderator” link located at the bottom of the message.
Other useful information:
Best of the Beginners' Forum
The Best of the Beginners' Forum thread is a read only collection of links to posts in the Beginners' Forum that describe either how to do something, or are otherwise of significant value to the beginning, or even the seasoned amateur astronomer. Often, the answers to many common questions are several posts down in these threads, so be sure to read through these threads to make sure you get the maximum benefit from them.
Even though this thread is read only, if you have questions or comments pertinent to any of these threads, you can add them to the original threads. If you feel that a particular thread deserves being in the Best of the Beginner's Forum thread, kindly advise the Moderating team and we will look into the matter.
As with the rest of the Internet, the Cloudy Nights community can be victimized by scammers and con artists. If you choose to buy or sell on Cloudy Nights through either the Classifieds (a general market place available to members) or the Swap & Shop (a smaller market place for more established CN members), please exercise caution and research anyone with whom you do business before you commit to a transaction.
Please take the time to read through the hyperlinks above to familiarize yourself with issues that may arise during such transactions.
Grievances with Vendors
Although it is always acceptable to voice your opinions or experiences, we ask that you refrain from bashing vendors. Specifically, if you have a problem with a vendor, please settle the issue directly and do not try to use Cloudy Nights as leverage. If you are a vendor yourself, please remember that Cloudy Nights is primarily intended as a discussion site with some ancillary commercial sections. Cloudy Nights is not intended as a place for vendors to simply come and make money by selling or advertising.
The Cloudy Nights system is hosted on a WWW server paid for by our sponsor, Astronomics. At times, there may be more traffic on Cloudy Nights than the hosting server can gracefully handle. When this happens, parts of the system, especially relating to the databases which track your past reading activity, may suffer. Long delays when loading pages or saving posts can also occur. If this happens, you may think that your post was interrupted and did not get through, causing you to repost or hit the send button again, even though it is possible that your first post was submitted as intended. This is also an issue for members posting ads in the Classifieds section. Instead of resubmitting your post, first copy it and paste to a secure location, then please refresh your browser to see if your initial attempt was successful.
Moderation of topics / posts
The Terms of Service (TOS) provide guidance as to what could be construed as questionable content – content that we may request a member to edit, or edited and as a last step removed by the Moderator Team.
While the Moderator Team endeavors to maintain the Cloudy Nights Forums to a high standard, we ask the members to understand that we are not the police – rather, we are fellow members of this Forum, we are here on a volunteer basis and our numbers are finite, therefore on occasion we may delay initializing a moderating action. We may also take time to ponder if a topic or post is in violation of the TOS and then take action.
You, as members of Cloudy Nights, are our team members too and we encourage you to use the “notify moderator” option under each post, to let us know if a topic or post is in breach of the TOS of Cloudy Nights. We would appreciate it greatly if you first pause and consider if a topic or post which may appear at a first glance to be a violation of the Terms of Service, is actually one.
The guidance for this is documented in the TOS and the Stickies in each Forum. Kindly refrain from using the "notify moderator" option for no real reason or because of personal differences of opinion or for other non valid reasons. We all need to have a "thicker" skin and avoid taking offence at the slightest comment as it shouldn't matter so much.
Since we are all discussing online instead of face-to-face, it is easy to misunderstand someone's comments by way of a knee-jerk reaction, so take a breath and think about it again with clear mind. Words of wisdom from a friend - if it is not a TOS violation "let it go". We most appreciate your assistance in maintaining both the high standards of the Forum but also its orientation as a family friendly forum.
We thank you for your attention to these matters. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a Beginners’ Forum moderator or Cloudy Nights administrator.
Have fun and clear skies.
- Your Beginners’ Forum moderation team