If your thinking about getting involved in Astronomy then apart from a trip to Tring Astronomy Centre for a coffee and a Hobnob! there is often no better start than visiting your local Astronomy Society. Most societies welcome beginners with open arms and have members that are only too happy to share their experiences and knowledge. An internet picture rarely gives you a realisitic impression of scale, so seeing a telescope in the flesh first is very important. A good Astronomical Society will have observation evenings where you will be able to see a variety of equipment in operation, and at the same time be able to quiz the owners on real world use. Finding the right equipment is only half the story though as there is a lifetimes worth of things to see with it! Here the support, encouragement and inspiration of a good society is worth its weight in gold. Whilst joining an Astronomical Society may not be for everyone, we would at least suggest an initial recce of your local groups to see what support is available either in the short or long term.
To help you find a local society we are building a list of astronomy groups on this page starting with the ones most local to us;
Wycombe Astro Society Meets twice a month at Woodrow House Near Amersham in Bucks. They have their own observatory on site and welcome newcomers of all experience levels.