An Invitation to Become an Accomplished Stargazer

Comprehensive online astronomy course helps stargazers in the northern AND southern hemispheres understand the night sky, choose and use telescopes and binoculars, and see the most beautiful and fascinating sights in the heavens

Author and master wit Oscar Wilde once said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

That’s a bit harsh perhaps. But he has a point. Stargazing, like music or art or poetry, is a way to ennoble your life, to rise above everyday concerns and try to make sense of your place in the universe.

If you’re reading these words, chances are you’re interested in learning more about stargazing yourself. And like so many of your fellow stargazers, you may have been struck with a burning desire to see more of the heavens… much more… during your all-too-brief time on our little blue planet.

That’s why, once each year, offers the comprehensive course called Fundamentals of Stargazing. It’s a detailed online course about backyard astronomy for those who wish to let ancient starlight, which has traveled thousands or millions of years across the vast space between the stars and galaxies, to enter their eye and excite their imagination.

The course is designed to…

  • check
    Provide guided sky tours that make the night sky snap to life over the course of the year through the stars, constellations, planets, and the finest deep-sky sights no matter where in the world you live
  • check
    Help you select and use binoculars, telescopes, and key accessories so you can see more and farther than you ever thought possible
  • check
    Decipher the science behind the planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies so you can grow your knowledge and strengthen your grasp of the inner workings of the universe

In short, Fundamentals of Stargazing fast-tracks you to a deep understanding of what to see in the night sky and how to see it, so you can enjoy some of the most astonishing sights in all of nature, understand a little about your place in the universe, and share your new-found expertise with your friends or your children or grandchildren.

Enrollment is Limited

Fundamentals of Stargazing is not for everyone.

If you’re happy to just look at pretty pictures of stars and galaxies on the internet, or maybe watch an occasional video on social media, and if you have no interest in understanding the night sky for yourself, then this program is not for you. Students of this course are a serious bunch, so I want to honor their commitment by ensuring they receive my full attention.

That’s because everyone who joins this program gets a direct email access so they can ask as many questions as they wish during the course.

The program is offered only once per year.  The night sky changes from month to month, so to make sure everyone starts at the same place in the sky, the course opens to new students for a little over two weeks only from Thursday, February 27, 2020 and closes at midnight on Sunday, March 8, 2020.

And this year, enrollment is limited to just 50 students (out of 30,000 regular subscribers to Cosmic Pursuits). Everyone who joins this program gets a direct email access so they can ask me as many questions as they wish during the course.

So I don’t want a thousand people in Fundamentals of Stargazing. I want the right people.

Fundamentals of Stargazing organizes everything you need to know into 6 main sections that you can read, listen to, and study at your own pace:
  • check
    Monthly sky tours which take you through dozens of constellations and hundreds of stars visible from the point of view of an observer in the NORTHERN hemisphere
  • check
    Monthly sky tours which take you through dozens of constellations and hundreds of stars visible from the point of view of an observer in the SOUTHERN hemisphere
  • check
    Solar system observing including detailed tours and observing tips for the Moon, Sun, planets, comets, and meteors
  • check
    The science of astronomy and stargazing to help you understand what you’re looking at, why it’s important, and how it fits into the bigger picture of the galaxy and the universe
  • check
    Telescopes and observing techniques including tips about how to choose and use binoculars and telescopes
  • check
    Tours of sights and objects in the “deep sky” such as star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies

Each of these 6 sections contains 12 chapters, each with notes, images, audio and maps to make it easy to follow and understand. That’s 72 sections in total, all packed with useful and highly practical information and advice to help you understand what to see in the night sky and how to see it. In short, it’s a college-level course, one that’s affordable and easy to follow, in the practice and pleasures of amateur astronomy.

An “A-Z” Guide to Discovering the Night Sky

In the tours of the night sky each month, you set sail on a guided expedition to the most prominent stars and constellations visible from the northern and southern hemispheres.

You’ll find ancient star groups known since the age of Gilgamesh — constellations used by the Egyptians and Romans to plan and reap harvests, monstrous red supergiant stars about to blow themselves to pieces as supernovae, shimmering patches of newborn stars that only recently emerged from the churning star factories of our own galaxy…

… and hundreds more sights and stories of the night sky each month through the year.

Each guided tour of the night sky includes five detailed maps to bring along with you.
You also get:

  • check
    An audio version of each tour which you can load onto your smartphone or music player and take outside with you to follow along
  • check
    Detailed notes to help you see the most beautiful and easy-to-find star clusters, glowing nebulae, and incredibly distant galaxies with binoculars or a small scope
  • check
    The best tips on how to see and enjoy each object, and insight about its physical nature and importance

Some reviews from a few past students in 'Fundamentals of Stargazing' (called “The Art of Stargazing” in past years):

“The course is well designed and assembled with heaps of information for the beginner, and it has enough stimulating challenges to hook you into becoming a more adventurous and informed stargazer. The most valuable aspect was having someone available and prepared to answer any question. This has been a most worthwhile and enriching experience for me.”
– Kay Robinson

“As a new stargazer I was hesitant to sign up for this course because I was concerned that it would be beyond my capabilities or it would talk down to me. I could not have been more wrong. The lessons were well planned, clear and concise, and in no way beyond the new stargazer. In a word: excellent. A friend who is well versed in astronomy described the course as a "must have, for all levels". An excellent value for the money and a welcome addition to any library.”
– Garry Oman

“In the past, I bought and read a few guides and reference books on astronomy but they were confusing. But when I subscribed to “The Art of Stargazing” I found a great guide with an approach that allowed me to discover step-by-step the greatness of our universe. The course did a fantastic job of supporting my interest and the non-intimidating style makes you feel like you have a dedicated expert that uses easy to understand terminology that simplifies the introduction to the science of astronomy.”
– André Rousseau

“My husband and I decided to take up astronomy when we retired a few years ago as a hobby we could enjoy together. After joining, we discovered “The Art of Stargazing” and never looked back. It’s easy to follow month by month; it covers all aspects of astronomy including deep sky, solar, lunar, techniques, equipment, and more. If you are thinking of doing this course, go for it! You will always have it for reference on your journey in astronomy.”
– J. Blackburn

How to Pick the Perfect Telescope

Fundamentals of Stargazing takes the guesswork out of choosing and using the key tools of the backyard astronomer. You’ll discover dozens of expert-level tips to help you supercharge your view with your own telescope. And you’ll learn to select the best equipment to fit your budget and personal situation.

You’ll discover…

  • check
    How to extract the most detail from faint objects with your own eyes
  • check
    Tricks of the trade for choosing and using binoculars for astronomy, along with specific recommendations for binoculars that will give you the best value for stargazing without breaking your budget
  • check
    The pros and cons of each type of telescope for backyard astronomy
  • check
    How to avoid buying the wrong telescope. Discover a step-by-step guide to choosing the best telescope for your personal interests, situation, and budget. This section alone could save you hundreds of dollars and months of frustration
  • check
    How to select wide-field eyepieces for big objects like emission nebulae, and high-power eyepieces for smaller sights like planetary nebulae, double stars, and planets
  • check
    Money-saving alternatives to the more expensive eyepieces on the market
  • check
    The truth about the four major types of light pollution filters, which ones are right for you, and which are a waste of money for a visual observer
  • check
    Critical (and inexpensive) accessories that will double or triple your enjoyment of stargazing with even the simplest telescope

You also get an introduction to basic astrophotography, and a crash course in the new and amazingly fascinating world of video astrophotography, a technology that effectively triples the size of your telescope!

More testimonials for 'Fundamentals of Stargazing':

“I received substantial return on my investment for “The Art of Stargazing” course. The content of the materials was excellent. I decided to purchase the course because it offered to answer all my questions via email, and indeed it did. I saved much more than I spent on the course because it guided me in buying decisions for telescope, mount, and accessories. I am now a much better stargazer because I have so much more knowledge and I own the equipment which is just perfect for me.”
– Marilyn Perry

“Just wanted to say my wife and I enjoyed and learned so much from The Art of Stargazing. The course has been a great aid in learning the stars and actually understanding what we are looking at. We have since joined our local observatory and have purchased a telescope. This is a hobby that we can enjoy together. The course is an absolute bargain, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in astronomy and our night skies.”
– Frank Palmisano

I purchased “The Art of Stargazing” and I found it most helpful and educational. I have an 11-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and I can now enjoy my nights viewing much more now that I have a plan for each night. Thank you.”
– Michael Reilly

“Although learning about stargazing has been a lifelong ambition, I would never have reached this point on my own. A whole year of comprehensive guidance, that I could understand with a little perseverance, has been a joy. I have also really appreciated the additional distillation of notes for the events happening during each month, not to mention learning about mythology and history. Fascinating!”
– Lyn French

Decipher the Science of the Stars

The famous artworks of the Vatican, for example, are far more interesting if you know a little about Renaissance art. So it is with the heavens. Many readers, even poets and artists who’ve never studied science before, have said that knowing more about how the stars and nebulae and galaxies work makes them more beautiful, not less.

That’s why Fundamentals of Stargazing gives you concise explanations of the science behind the hundreds of deep-sky sights covered in the sky tours. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever taken a science course, because Fundamentals of Stargazing walks you through:

  • check
    How most of the atoms in our everyday world… the atoms in cars, computers, trees, and humans… were created in the blast furnace of an exploding star hundreds of millions of years ago
  • check
    Why stars have different colors (and the answer to the question I’m frequently asked… why there are no green stars?)
  • check
    How astronomers measure brightness and distance of celestial objects
  • check
    How stars evolve through each stage of their life cycle, from protostar to white dwarf or supernova, and examples of stars at each stage you can easily see with your own eyes
  • check
    Types of commonly observed variable stars that you as an amateur can observe, and how some variable stars are used to help measure the unimaginably-large distance in our galaxy and beyond
  • check
    The nature and composition of dark and diffuse nebula which harbor the building blocks of brand new stars and planets, and maybe even future life forms
  • check
    The origins and nature of the two main types of star clusters you can see with your telescope
  • check
    The three main galaxy shapes you’re likely to encounter, and what the shape of a galaxy tells us about its evolution, size, history, and eventual fate
  • check
    The farthest thing you can see with a small telescope, an object nearly 1/3 of the way across the known universe

For New and Experienced Stargazers, Northern Hemisphere and South

The program benefits those who want to get out and see the stars, whether they live in the city or rural area, or whether they live in the northern or southern hemisphere. Fundamentals of Stargazing is designed for:

  • check
    New stargazers who are just starting out but keen to take a fast-track to getting into amateur astronomy
  • check
    Casual stargazers with a little experience, who know a few stars and constellations and might have some equipment, but who are ready to get more serious
  • check
    Those getting back into stargazing after many years who may have forgotten much of what they once knew about the night sky or about choosing and using telescopes and other tools

The program is intended for adults, but serious-minded kids 12 and over should be able to follow the course material without much problem. So Fundamentals of Stargazing can serve as an excellent gift if you know of a young stargazer with a restless mind who’s keen to know more.

Much of the know-how in the course — observing techniques, equipment selection, and science — remains useful no matter where you live.

But the course also includes separate sky tours and deep-sky observation for observers in the northern and southern hemispheres.

The northern tours are useful for anyone in the northern hemisphere… it doesn’t matter if you live in North America or Europe or Asia. In the evening hours, we all see more or less the same stars and planets (in fact, you learn this in an early lesson). You see slightly different stars are different latitudes, but the most prominent stars stay the same.

Same story for the south… the southern tours are applicable for observers in South America, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand… anyone at a latitude from about 25 degrees to 50 degrees south latitude. 

Available Anytime, Anywhere in the World

Fundamentals of Stargazing is an online course, so you don’t need to worry about receiving stacks of notes or DVD’s in the mail.

Nor do you have to waste time driving to a classroom.

Once you’re in the course, you receive an e-mail with a link to a password-protected main course page on the website. This page gives you access to the all 6 sections, each with 12 detailed installments of material which includes notes, maps, and audio. So if you’re online, you can access the course from any computer, tablet, or smart phone, anywhere in the world, any time you wish, and you can dip into the course whenever it is convenient for you.

You get access to all 72 sections right away, and you can work through the material at your own pace, whenever you like.

Every section includes detailed notes and images in PDF format to read at your convenience. You also get an MP3 audio version of the notes to load onto your favorite listening device to take along on stargazing sessions or to listen to while you’re out and about.

Each sky tour also includes a set of maps in PDF format to show you the full sky as seen in the early evening hours to help you find the stars and constellations. Plus you get more detailed maps to help you find the deep-sky objects in each month’s tour with a telescope or binoculars.

All PDF and MP3 material can be downloaded to your computer so you can keep it at hand if you’re offline.

Want a sneak peak of what's in Fundamentals of Stargazing?

Click here to see the main course page and Table of Contents

More testimonials for 'Fundamentals of Stargazing':

“The course information for “Fundamentals of Stargazing” was excellent. The monthly charts were great to have on hand when I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. As I hadn’t been looking up at sky at night much over the last few years this course got me back into stargazing and now I want to take it to the next step for me and take pictures. Now not only can I identify what I’m looking but understand what is happening out there so many light years away. ”
– Lynn Peers

“For me as a total beginner this course worked very well. I have tried some books in the past but just couldn’t get orientated. However this material helped me really get to grips with the night sky. I now have a month by month reference list for the whole year of what’s up above me and also what’s what in the opposite hemisphere, too. I am glad that I have taken this valuable course.”
– Reece Bramely

“This course literally opened up the sky for me. I can now look up and make sense of what I’m looking at. I spent many an evening listening and reading each month’s installment, then headed outdoors to see it all for myself. You can go as deep into the material as you want…
– C. Harvey

No Astronomy Background Required

Fundamentals of Stargazing includes all the explanation and insight you need to understand the heavens, even if you’ve never had the time to study astronomy, and even if you've never taken a science course since high school.

All the course notes are written in the same concise and easy-to-understand style you enjoy in the articles on the website. You learn what you need to know when you need to know it… and you don’t need to buy or search for any other background material. It’s all laid out for you to save time and effort and to get you looking at the stars as quickly as possible.

How about a telescope?

At first, you don’t need a telescope. In fact, if you don’t have binoculars or a telescope, the early sections of the course help you choose the best optical tools for your budget and personal situation. And even without a scope, you can still work through the entire course—it includes images of what many of the sights look like through a telescope— and you can still learn the stars and constellations and the science of stargazing.

Eventually, if you wish to see the deep-sky objects like star clusters and galaxies for yourself, and if you wish to see detail on the face of the Moon and major planets, you may want to buy a telescope, or perhaps borrow one from your local astronomy club. And if you’re not sure which instrument is best for you, you always have direct email access so you can ask for advice.

More testimonials for 'Fundamentals of Stargazing':

“Fantastic course… specific, concise, very encompassing, complete! I enjoyed it thoroughly and refer to it often to reinforce knowledge gained and missed the first time around. For a beginning stargazer, the “Sky Tour” and “Observing Tools and Techniques” were extremely helpful, revealing, and enjoyable. I look forward to expanding my knowledge in all the other areas covered in this very worthwhile course. Thanks for a job well done!”

– Bob Benscoter

“The Art of Stargazing is an awesome way to learn about the night sky. I enjoyed having the different star maps each month to know where to look in the sky and what to look for. I also liked having the deep sky object maps even though just now I cannot see most of them. I was surprised to also learn about the southern sky which I will put to good use when I travel to Australia soon. There was so much helpful information… I will be going over it for a long time. Any problems or questions I had were resolved or answered quickly which I appreciated. Job well done!”

– Karen Maddox

A must for beginners and an extra-valuable source of information for someone like me with a couple of years experience. I’m looking forward to next year’s edition.

– Stefaan Bogaert

Gain A Lifetime of Expertise

Fundamentals of Stargazing was designed and developed by me, Dr. Brian Ventrudo, the creator and publisher of and its previous incarnation,, since its inception seven years ago.

What makes me an expert in astronomy?

I’ve been stargazer for most of my life. I learned the “fundamentals of stargazing” from scratch. I started out by myself as a kid in a small town… with no help from anyone… and at first couldn’t tell the Little Dipper from the Pleiades. It took much trial and error… and many screw-ups. I once made the mistake of nearly vaporizing my right eye when a bargain-basement solar filter cracked as I was inspecting sunspots.

I show you how to avoid beginners’ mistakes. Because I made nearly all of them.

At age 11, I completed a university course in astronomy, though I couldn’t go for drinks after final exams because I was still eight years too young to set foot in a bar!

In time, I earned a master’s degree in astrophysics and a doctorate in applied physics. I taught astronomy at the university level. And I designed optical and laser systems to peer into the workings of molecules in the atmospheres of planets and in the vast space between the stars.

All to say I know astronomy. And I know the business end of a telescope.

But I also know which things I don’t know. So when it comes to subjects where I’m not an expert, I bring in other experts to enhance the course, especially in areas such as astronomical imaging, digital processing, video astronomy, and so forth. If you have a question which I can’t answer, I’ll tap my extensive network of expert colleagues and find someone who does.

Three Bonus Mini-Courses

For example, when you enroll in Fundamentals of Stargazing, you also benefit from three special ‘mini courses’ created with the help of my fellow stargazers and teachers:

  • check
    Lunar Observing for Beginners takes you on a journey through time and space to reveal the fascinating history of our Moon, from its cataclysmic beginnings more than 4 billion years ago to its present-day state of “magnificent desolation”. Developed by the late and beloved astronomy writer Tammy Plotner, this course helps you find nearly 200 distinct features on the Moon’s surface visible over the course of a month with a small telescope. In downloadable PDF format.
  • check
    The Urban Astronomer’s Survival Guide, based on an interview with renowned astronomy author and teacher Rod Mollise, reveals dozens of tips and ideas for urban and suburban stargazers to overcome the scourge of light pollution. Using a small telescope, with this small course, even city-bound observers can see hundreds of star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae, as well as the Moon and planets. Notes are in PDF, and also includes a 60-minute MP3 audio file as well as streaming audio.
  • check
    Introduction to Nightscape Imaging shows you the basics of how to use a DSLR camera to take stunning images of the night sky highlighted by foreground earthly landscapes. This mini-course, developed with the help of the well-known photographer and teacher David Kingham, shows you all the equipment and software required to get started. Comes in a 45-minute streaming video format with many examples of expert nightscape images.

All three mini-courses are packed full of useful and valuable tips and insight, and they could be offered as separate courses in themselves. But as a student of Fundamentals of Stargazing, you get them at no extra charge.

Course Fee - Holding Steady for 2020

With such a detailed and state-of-the-art stargazing course, you might wonder… how much does it cost to enroll in Fundamentals of Stargazing?

Well, a major British university charges more than $700 for a year-long introductory online astronomy course. General-interest college courses go for $400-$500 plus the cost of books. And a well-known online Australian university charges more than $1,800 for a unit of study… for just a four-month course.

So a one-time fee of $500 to $1,000 for a lifetime of expertise seems reasonable. I should charge that amount. But I won’t. I want to keep this course as accessible as possible to all serious would-be stargazers.

Enrollment in this comprehensive professional-grade astronomy program costs just US$197. Despite many significant improvements in the course (not to mention increases in the cost of living in the seven years since the course was first offered), I'm keeping the fee the same so as many people as possible can enjoy it. Telescope prices may go up every year, but I'm keeping the cost of Fundamentals of Stargazing steady.

You can pay for the course with a major credit card or with your PayPal account through the secure PayPal website. You do not need a PayPal account to enjoy this course.

After all, the course fee of US$197 works out to less than four dollars a week over a year. And that's for a program that helps you build a lifelong skill and offers you fellowship with a small group of your fellow humans who have, for a time, gazed into the heart of nature on its grandest scale. 

No-Questions-Asked Guarantee

One you get inside Fundamentals of Stargazing, you’ll be delighted with the detail, scope, and accessibility of the course. I’ve heard that many times from previous students.

But you have to be completely convinced yourself that the program is right for you. If you’re not, I’ll gladly refund your enrollment fee without any questions or hassle.

In fact, if you’re not happy, I want you to ask for your money back.

Take 60 days to evaluate the material, ask questions, try some stargazing for yourself… and if it’s not for you, just send me an email and I’ll refund the full enrollment fee or your installments… you’ll get back every dime and you won’t be charged again.

What To Do Now

Fundamentals of Stargazing is open to new students on Thursday, February 27, 2020.

It closes just before midnight on Sunday, March 8, 2020… or sooner if it fills up. After that, the program won’t be offered again until next year… if ever.

There are limited spaces available… I want to make sure everyone who registers for this program gets the individual attention they deserve. To secure your position in Fundamentals of Stargazing, click on the “Order Securely” button below or click here to get started.

I look forward to welcoming you on your stargazing adventure and helping you find and see the most beautiful objects in the heavens.


Brian Ventrudo, Ph.D.
Publisher, Cosmic Pursuits

P.S. Remember, there’s no risk at all for you to try Fundamentals of Stargazing. Take up to 60 days to look through the material, try a little stargazing, and ask me as many questions as you like. If you find the program is not for you, let me know and you’ll get a full and fast refund. No questions asked. Click here to get started.