New Study Reveals The Biggest Indicator That Hints To A Person Being A Huge Dumbass

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Everyone knows somebody that is a know-it-all.

These are the people that no matter how much evidence there is pointing to something as being factual, they will argue with everyone in the room about the legitimacy of those facts.

In their minds, they are smarter than the entire planetary population, and it is for this reason that their loud-mouthed, opinionated stance on every subject from politics to proper grilling techniques must come spewing out whenever they get around others.

These insufferable characters are known for invading conversations with their “I’m right, and your wrong” attitude and they would instead be eaten by wolves, dick first, than ever admit to making a mistake.

If there is any doubt that you have ever been around one of these bright boys, just think back to the time you were at that one party and had the overwhelming urge to jump out of a window and end it all. Chances are, those suicidal tendencies were triggered by a dreadful encounter with a know-it-all schmuck.

But while these outspoken individuals might have you believe that they possess big, badass brains full of all the knowledge in the universe, a study shows that these clowns are really just dumbasses with no fucking idea what they are talking about.

In a recent issue of the Journal Nature Human Behavior, researchers show how these opinionated people are really just suffering from an “illusion of knowledge” that essentially makes them think they are smarter than they really are.

“Extreme views often stem from people feeling they understand complex topics better than they do,” Phil Fernbach, the lead author of the study, told ABC News.

If you are involved in the business community, you run into these garrulous specimens all of the time.

At first, they come across as being jam-packed to the eyeballs full of shit – the kind of person that believes he can’t fucking lose as long as he keeps his lips flapping — but then you start to realize that, holy hell, this bastard actually believes everything coming out of his mouth. It is a painful experience, to say the least.

But for this particular study, researchers used the topic of genetically modified food to find out more about this repulsive breed of human.

Although these foods are generally considered fit for consumption and mostly supported by scientists, around 60 percent of the American population believe this process is nothing more than the evil spawn of Satan.

So, researchers dug in and polled a few thousand people to try and gauge their knowledge on this subject in hopes of determining whether their opinions were rooted in actual stats or a steaming pile of crap.

What they found was the people who were staunchly opposed to the concept of genetically modified food, presumably the same ones who believe that cannabis cures cancer, were entirely out of touch with science. What’s worse is these arrogant pricks really thought they knew more about the matter than the experts.

This outpouring of unwavering ignorance is not just confined to the subject of genetically modified food.

Researchers found that these numbnuts believe they are mentally superior when it comes to everything from operating household appliances right down to solving complex worldly issues.

In other words, these fools genuinely believe they have it all figured out, and that we, as the dipshits and peons of society, should all just stand there and listen attentively the next time one of them decides to school us.

Or you can handle these chatty dregs the way we do.

Just when they’ve proven incapable of closing their trap, just say “Excuse me, I need to grab another beer” and then evacuate from the unsavory scene.

This is better than continuing to stand there while their incessant rambling tricks you into whacking them in the throat with an empty bottle.

We hate to break it to you, but they are not going away anytime soon – these know-it-all types.

Researchers say that since we must first convince them that they don’t know jack-shit, a civilization free of these academic cripples may never exist.

“Our findings suggest that changing people’s minds first requires them to appreciate what they don’t know,” said study co-author Nicholas Light, a Ph.D. candidate at the Leeds School of Business. “Without this first step, educational interventions might not work very well to bring people in line with the scientific consensus.”

But never fear. We’re pretty sure that the scientific consensus tells us that a good old fashioned dick punch is effective in silencing pseudo-geniuses that can’t seem to learn when to shut the fuck up.

But knowing these types of people, not even a set of swollen nuts will keep them down for long.

***

Mike Adams is a freelance writer for High Times, Cannabis Now, and Forbes. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Dozens of naked people, holding up images of nipples, stood outside Facebook to protest its ban on nudity

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Facebook protest

  • Dozens of people stripped off outside Facebook’s New York offices as part of an art installation protesting against a ban on nudity on Facebook and Instagram. 
  • The protest was organized by American artist and photographer Spencer Tunick with the National Coalition Against Censorship.
  • Artists say that Facebook’s strict nudity policy is preventing them from sharing their work online.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dozens of naked models gathered outside Facebook’s office in New York on Sunday as part of an art installation that protested Facebook’s ban on nudity.

The demonstration, known as #WeTheNipple, was organized by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) along with artist Spencer Tunick, who photographed the nude crowd.

Facebook has a strict ban on nudity on its own platform as well as Instagram. Some artists complain that this prevents them from sharing their work online.

"It particularly harms artists whose work focuses on their own bodies, including queer and gender-nonconforming artists, and the bodies of those in their communities. Museums and galleries are constrained when even promoting exhibitions featuring nudes," the NCAC wrote in a press release for the event.

Facebook did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Facebook really hates people buying likes on Instagram and is suing a company which made millions selling fake engagement

According to CNN, members of women’s empowerment group Grab Them By The Ballot also took part in the demonstration.

"We are here to empower women around body positivity and encourage female voter turnout in 2020," Dawn Robertson, founder of the group, said in a statement to the press before the event.

She continued: "This isn’t just about shock value and protesting — it’s about reclaiming our bodies. Facebook and Instagram have missed this message entirely as they cling to negligent and blatantly misogynist policies that overlook the context of the artistic nudity being posted."

Robertson said Facebook permanently banned the group’s ad account after it posted a nude painting with a celebratory poem for Mother’s Day. She has also had her own account banned on several occasions.

According to Roberston, Facebook admitted that they were "wrong" to have canceled these accounts after she appealed, but she has since been banned again.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft takes direct aim at Apple, opening a sleek new flagship store in London’s busiest shopping area

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Now that Google and Nintendo offer digital video games, GameStop could have the same fate as Blockbuster

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So your kid wants a phone. Review these 5 tips on digital parenting first

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According to FOSI, the trick is to monitor your child’s smartphone usage but in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re helicoptering. Verizon’s Just Kids plan is a simple add-on to your existing Verizon Unlimited plan that gives your child 5GB of data, with built-ins like unlimited talk and text to 20 trusted contacts. Parents set the usage parameters, and score precious peace of mind in the process.

So how does it work? For parents: after you’ve activated a My Verizon account, download the Verizon Smart Family app and designate your phone as the “Smart Family Parent” (you’ll need to designate one parent for this). 

For your kids: make sure they download the Smart Family companion app on their new phone and pair it with the designated Smart Family Parent’s phone. Pairing means you’ll be able to precisely track your kids location. 

You can also set other parameters that make sense for your family, including screen-time limits, pausing internet access during homework, and filtering content. 

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Does Your Memory Suck? Here Are 4 Natural Ways To Boost Your Brain Power

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The brain is the most critical organ in the body. Sure, the heart and liver are crucial, but those can be transplanted or hooked up to technology, so they keep working.

You only get one brain, and unless you’re the son of a Frankenstein you’re not getting another, so it’s vital to keep the mind in mint condition.

Unfortunately, many daily habits are turning our minds into mush.  Staring at screens all day is slowly screwing with our melons, and there are hundreds of times a day when we’ve got to trick our heads into getting stuff done.

Thankfully, there are natural ways to boost brain power, and this article from BrainMD Health suggests several ideas to try immediately.

A few of the tips should be obvious like eating the right foods, avoiding toxins like booze and drugs, and exercising on the regular. There are all activities we’ll assume people know and understand because they’re smart for staying healthy overall.

The other four suggestions from BrainMD Health are a little less obvious but just as easy to incorporate into your daily routine.

The first proposal is to TAKE MORE TRIPS.

“Traveling helps the brain by exposing it to new places and faces,” the article explains. “Using maps exercises the brain’s visual-spatial abilities and helps stimulate your memory pathways. In addition to breaking up the sameness of your daily routine, taking a trip can provide a whole new set of experiences, some of which may become cherished memories.”

Next, LEARN SOMETHING NEW.

When was the last time you learned a new sport, new game, taught yourself to play an instrument or accomplished anything after work besides crushing “Rick and Morty” reruns?

“Studies indicate that stimulating brain pathways you haven’t been using regularly can help improve your brain health. Brain researchers emphasize that the “use it or lose it” principle applies to the brain. When the brain stops learning, it can start, fading, so be intentional about learning new things.”

The third proposal for kicking the brain into gear is to MEET NEW PEOPLE and not at a bar.

But you do have to leave your house.

“Since people tend to become more like those they spend time with, it’s good to work on developing friendships with positive and interesting individuals. You can trade ideas, learn new information, and broaden your perspective by associating with different kinds of people. Spend time with people who inspire, encourage, and challenge, you.”

Finally, BrainHealth MD challenges people to put their brain to work by LEARNING COORDINATION ACTIVITIES.

These include dancing, juggling, ping pong, jumping rope, or any physical activity that involves both brains and a little brawn.

These activities boost activity in the cerebellum, which contains “about 50 percent of the brain’s neurons and is involved with both physical and thought coordination.”

And since you’re already learning something new, why not conquer it in half the time by working at it like a true master.

[via BrainMD Health]

***

Chris Illuminati is a 5-time published author and recovering a**hole who writes about success, fitness, parenting and occasionally pro wrestling. Reach out to him on Instagram & Twitter.

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Astrophotographers, this is how Starlink satellites will affect the night skies

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Astrophotographers, this is how Starlink satellites will affect the night skies

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On 23 May, the first 60 SpaceX’s Starlink satellites were successfully launched into orbit. They were caught on camera and they look spectacular while orbiting around the Earth together. However, the ultimate plan is to launch nearly 12,000 of these satellites. Have you wondered how it will affect the night skies? Astronomers are concerned that they will pollute the night sky, and astrophotography is only one of the areas that could be hindered by this many satellites in the orbit.

While they were gliding together around the Earth, the satellites were bright and clearly visible to the naked eye. However, astronomers are concerned that 11,943 of satellites this bright will change the view on the universe. Darren Baskill, an outreach officer of physics and astronomy at the University of Sussex, told The Verge:

“It’s going to become increasingly likely that the satellites will pass through the field of view and essentially contaminate your view of the Universe, and it’s going to be really difficult to remove that contamination away from our observations.”

Put simply, astronomers use very long exposures to take photos through their telescopes. This way they can gather and study light from distant galaxies. Now imagine a super-bright object going through the frame during a long exposure. It would leave a streak of light that would take up a large portion of the image. Of course, the same thing would happen even if you do astrophotography for the sake of art, not science.

Bruce Macintosh of Stanford University estimates that the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will “likely have to deal with between one and four Starlink satellites in every image within an hour or two of twilight,” National Geographic writes. “For astronomers I think this is more of a nuisance than a disaster, but changing the sky for every human needs talking about,” he recently tweeted.

According to the most recent report from the European Space Agency, there are about 5,000 satellites in orbit around Earth. Around 2,000 of them are still operational, and even they occasionally pose a problem for astronomers. If that number increases for another 12,000 satellites, it could cause serious light pollution in the night skies, causing headache to both astronomers and astrophotographers.

Elon Musk has responded to these concerns, saying that he would direct his team to think about how to reduce the Starlink satellites’ reflectivity. However, as National Geographic notes (and I tend to agree) – this is something we should think about before putting the satellites into orbit.

[via National Geographic, The Verge; image credits: SpaceX]

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The Art of Anticipation

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While dopamine is often known as the pleasure chemical, it would be better termed the anticipation chemical. It is triggered in looking ahead to a possible reward. It is enhanced in the face of novelty and uncertainty — when you envision something good happening, but aren’t entirely sure that it will, or exactly what it will be like.

Dopamine is a neutral neurotransmitter, itself neither good nor ill. But it can be handled and harnessed in ways that either facilitate, or hinder, your ability to lead a flourishing life.  

In the hindrance category, two main issues arise.

We talked about the first last month: you can get hooked on the giddy, exciting surge of motivation dopamine lends to the initial stages of pursuing something . . . but find that you can’t stick with that something after this early wave of energy fades. This is particularly problematic in the context of longer-term commitments: while the dopamine-driven honeymoon period only lasts a short time, a relationship, goal, hobby, or faith can require years, even decades of effort. People who can’t transition from the dopaminergic excitement of wanting something, to the distinct satisfactions of actually having it, end up abandoning one half-finished project after another, endlessly chasing after the next dopaminergic high.

Yet while we can become too much dependent on dopamine, many people suffer from a different issue: having too little dopaminergic excitement in their lives. 

Dopamine is a pleasure chemical, in that anticipation produces pleasure. And learning to structure your life in a way that maximizes this particular pleasure is a real art.

The Problem of Dopamine in Adulthood

Do you remember where we began the previous article about dopamine? It was with a quote from Casino Royale, in which Ian Fleming described the way James Bond bemoaned the “conventional parabola” of his relationships: they started out with upwardly arcing attraction, but, once consummated, quickly devolved into boredom and miserable break-ups.

Interestingly, that aside was in fact used to juxtapose these inferior past relationships with the one Bond builds in that book. Convalescing after a secret operation gone awry, 007 is physically incapable of having sex with his love interest, Vesper, and is forced to postpone the consummation of their relationship until after he recuperates. So, instead of jumping right into bed with her as he does with most women, he gets to know her slowly, letting their relationship, and the sexual tension between them, gradually build:

In the dull room and the boredom of his treatment her presence was each day an oasis of pleasure, something to look forward to. In their talk there was nothing but companionship with a distant undertone of passion. In the background there was the unspoken zest of the promise which, in due course and in their own time, would be met.

When the pair finally do consummate their relationship, their lovemaking is electric and Bond is so smitten with Vesper that the typically roguish secret agent decides he’ll propose marriage.

Such is the power of anticipation.

Anticipation is pleasurable tension. Charged expectancy. It is a feeling encapsulated in the desire one feels at the sight of a gift-wrapped box to know what’s in it. Dopamine senses a possible reward, paints a rosy picture of what it might be at its most ideal, and produces the desire to get at it, to experience it firsthand, to find out just how good it might be.

Once we know what’s in the “box,” dopamine dissipates.

Thus, while we typically think that what we most want is to get what we, well, want, the most intense current of pleasure actually lies in looking forward to getting what we want. Everyone knows that the anticipation of Christmas is far better than Christmas itself. Similarly, research shows that people enjoy the anticipation of their vacations more than the vacations themselves. In the throes of expectancy, a sense of impending magic builds; we get to contemplate the still-perfect picture of what lies ahead, untainted by the nuanced messiness of reality.

Given that the exciting charge given off by dopamine-driven anticipation surges in the face of newness, novelty, firsts, it’s unsurprisingly in short supply in many a routine-hardened adulthood that includes everything but.

Consider the charts of the dopaminergic “terrain” of young adulthood versus later adulthood:

Young adulthood is stacked with the arcs of dopaminergic excitement; later adulthood shows a life flat-lined. One is aesthetically interesting; the other is monotonously uniform. One evokes the thrilling landscape of a rugged mountain range; the other, the sterility of a desert.  

Of course, the downward facing slopes of youth’s undulations do lend life more anxiety and insecurity, and transitioning to greater stability in certain areas — especially those longer-term projects mentioned above — is a healthy and desirable part of maturation; rather than constantly trading in life’s foundational building blocks for brand new go-rounds, most people do want to settle down with someone, stick with, if not the very same job, the same vocational path, and live in a single place long enough to put down at least a bit of root-age.

But, while you don’t want to restlessly ride the parabola of the dopamine cycle in areas in which you’re looking to create things that last, there’s plenty of room in life to incorporate “one-off” experiences too. As well to maintain a little novelty — and the dopaminergic excitement that accompanies it — even within the more stable structures of your adulthood.

Cultivating the Art of Anticipation

A flourishing adulthood comprises a mixture of the familiar and the novel. Satisfaction is found in not only keeping life’s foundational building blocks (spouse, friends, home, job) stable, but in their progressive improvement. At the same time, new experiences and firsts are sought; while the intensity of the dopaminergic undulations of young adulthood cannot be wholly replicated, with intentionality, later adulthood can still have a varied, interesting landscape.

To experience more of the dopaminergic charge of anticipation in life, one must cultivate the following two factors:

Do Novel Things (In the Form of Newness or Uncertainty) . . .

Dopamine is set off when we approach something novel.

While such novelty may often be scarce in adulthood, it doesn’t have to be. There are always new friends to be made, new books to be read, new hobbies to try, new trails to hike.

While we may cross off many of our major firsts in our younger years, there are ever more firsts to be notched throughout the decades to come: first time visiting X place, first piano recital (taking up a musical instrument needn’t only be for kids), first marathon. It doesn’t have to be big stuff, either; your first time visiting a new restaurant or attending an art festival or museum will give you a tickle of excitement too. Plus, there’s all the firsts you’ll experience in witnessing your children experiencing their own firsts.

The novelty in your life doesn’t have to be strictly novel, either. Think of novelty not as limited to newness, but as anything that contains a degree of uncertainty.

Dopamine exists in any pocket of space and time in which you don’t know exactly what to expect.

This can occur when you’re going to do something you have done before, but haven’t done for awhile.

When you contemplate an evening eating a frozen pizza and watching Netflix, you know exactly what to expect, so there’s no dopamine, and no “buzz” leading up to it.

But when you do something you haven’t done in awhile, and which includes variables that aren’t 100% certain and can change, your brain kind of “forgets” exactly what it will be like and senses at least the possibility of the unexpected. There’s room for error in the gap between how rewarding you remember something being last time, and how rewarding it might be this time, and in that gap, dopamine can emerge.

The presence of other people is a variable that always ensures a level of uncertainty, and thus dopaminergic anticipation. You never know exactly how a human interaction will go, particularly with folks you see less frequently, rather than, say, live with day to day. Will your chemistry ignite? Will you impress with a great joke or insight? Will you awkwardly bomb? Will you argue? Will some new layer of the other person, or yourself, be revealed?

Thus, if you want more dopaminergic buzz in your life, it behooves you to socialize more often.

. . . Scheduled for the Future

Your smartphone is a never-ending gobstopper of dopamine. Because of its perfect slot-machine-like set-up of salient but uncertain rewards — Will I have a new text? How many likes has my Instagram post gotten? — the dopamine-driven itch to check one’s phone feels nearly irresistible. That irresistibility, however, is also one part of why phone-produced dopamine doesn’t give us any real pleasure; as soon as the anticipation of a possible digital reward crosses our minds, we kill it in the crib by glancing at our screens. (The other part, is that unlike dopaminergic motivation that can lead to deepening relationships, sharpening skills, and participating in new experiences, the dopaminergic urge to check your phone doesn’t terminate in anything beyond the intake of ethereal “one-byte” indicators of superficial status.)

If you decide to do something novel, and immediately act on that impulse, there is little room for anticipation — and its attendant charge of dopaminergic excitement — to build.

The key to cultivating the art of anticipation is thus not just to do new things, but to wait to do them.

While you can release dopamine in little random bursts by hazily contemplating a possibility for which you’ve made no real commitment, the real magic of anticipation happens when you schedule an event, that includes an element of novelty/uncertainty, for a specific future date.

When you delay the gratification of your desire, and can look forward to a concrete time at which it will be fulfilled, you allow the delicious pleasure of anticipation to slowly crescendo as it draws closer. This pleasure is not negated, and can in fact be enhanced, by a feeling that frequently runs in tandem with anticipation: stress. A little stress (and even fear) will often accompany the effortful means that lead up to an enjoyable end — whether a trip you’ve planned for yourself or a party you’ve planned for others. But it can be a healthy element in the charge surrounding dopamine’s upward arc; it is well we use the phrase “pregnant with possibilities,” for when there’s a “due date” for any upcoming event, the weight of expectancy grows heavier as that date approaches, until we’re finally ready to experience the elated release of that pent up, even uncomfortable tension.

There is therefore much wisdom in intentionally scheduling out your leisure time.

Finalize your vacation plans a year ahead, and you give yourself 12 months of anticipatory pleasure, anticipation that can be heightened even further if you lend more of your thoughts to the trip to come — reading up on the destination, refining your itinerary. Or plan a few smaller trips rather than one big one, to add more anticipatory undulations to the landscape of your life.

Deliberately plan your more “micro” recreation too: Plot out a hike or dinner date for the weekend — giving yourself something to look forward to as you make your way through the Monday to Friday grind. Arrange a lunch, a few days previous, to a novel establishment, with a rarely seen friend. Hatch a practicality-be-damned weeknight adventure.

Remember that the events you anticipate do not have to be novel in your having never experienced them before, but simply in having a degree of uncertainty arising from the time that’s passed since you did them last, and/or the presence of other people. One can in fact enhance the dopaminergic excitement surrounding such affairs by making them “seasonal”: standing dates, traditions, that happen every year, every month, even every week. Wonderful is the anticipation that rides upon a rhythmic current, the experiences that rise both familiar and new with each turn of the chronological wheel. 

When you master the art of anticipation, you maximize the pleasures of looking ahead. Such expectancy doesn’t mean abandoning a mindful embrace of the present moment; rather, it lends a buoyancy which makes the weight of the present moment easier to bear.

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5 tips for starting a conversation about your mental health

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It wasn’t long ago that the stigma of talking about one’s mental health forced many people to stay silent. Now though, messages encouraging people to share their struggles and seek help are widespread, including on Instagram, in public service announcements, and in celebrity interviews. Even Burger King recently launched a campaign to raise awareness and mark Mental Health Awareness Month

Yet it’s one thing to notice and appreciate this newfound acceptance and another to acknowledge to someone else that you’re experiencing a mental health condition or illness. People typically avoid disclosing that information for several reasons, including internalized stigma and shame, fear of rejection, worry about discrimination at work, and uncertainty about whether they need treatment.  

Indeed, mental health experts say it’s critical for people to weigh their concerns and disclose their experiences with others if and when it feels necessary and right. 

“It’s really on a need-to-know basis,” says Quinn Anderson, manager for the HelpLine operated by for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Run by staff and volunteers, the HelpLine is designed to answer callers’ questions about symptoms of mental health conditions, how to help family members get treatment, where to find local support groups and services, and more. 

If you’ve decided it’s important to tell someone about your mental health, try following these tips so that you’re prepared to have the conversation — and have a plan for handling what may come next: 

1. Weigh the pros and cons. 

Patrick Corrigan, a distinguished professor of psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, helped develop a program called Honest, Open, Proud that provides guidance for those who want to disclose a mental health condition. The first step in this process is considering the potential risks and benefits. 

In Corrigan’s research on the positive aspects of “coming out,” he’s found that people who are fed up with having to keep a secret feel freer once they’ve shared what they’re experiencing. But that sense of liberation may be elusive if the other person in the conversation responds with shame or judgment. 

“Once you’re out, it’s not easy to go back in.” 

For those who take the risk of telling a supervisor, the pay-off can be certain workplace accommodations, which employers are required to offer per the Americans with Disabilities Act. An employee with a psychiatric disability may receive a flexible schedule, sick leave, and a tailored break schedule, in addition to accommodations like work space with reduced exposure to noise, various types of equipment and technology, and modified job duties. Even though employers are not permitted to discriminate against workers based on a psychiatric disability, an employee may worry that disclosing a condition puts their job prospects or security at risk. 

“We do not have an agenda to talk people into coming out,” says Corrigan, noting the potential downsides. “Once you’re out, it’s not easy to go back in.” 

2. Arm yourself with information about your experiences or condition. 

When discussing a sensitive topic, you’re likely to have done some research in advance in order to feel confident. Talking about your mental health is no different. If you’ve been diagnosed by a medical professional, or simply noticed worrisome symptoms that seem associated with a mental health condition, familiarize yourself with the relevant language that can help you communicate what you’re experiencing to others. 

Such education can inform your understanding of what you’re going through — as can learning about others’ experiences — and thereby reduce your own sense of shame or stigma. 

3. Decide who needs to know and what you want from them. 

If you’re already seeing a mental health provider, that person may be able to help determine who — if anyone — you should tell. Anderson says a provider can help you develop a plan, and in some cases, offer to invite a loved one to a joint appointment so you’ll have backup and the therapist can explain your treatment. 

When deciding on your own whether to disclose, consider if it’s important, or even critical, for certain people to know. While you might hope to explain recent behavior to a loved one, ask for support, or perhaps seek acceptance, telling someone who isn’t capable of recognizing your needs and reacting with compassion or empathy could be devastating. 

Anderson says it’s also helpful to prepare responses if someone asks how they can help. Answering that question can be as simple as describing what it looks like when you’re really struggling, along with guidance about how they can best support you. 

The Honest, Open, Proud programs sometimes recommends against telling people who are generally bigoted, people who use disrespectful language (think “crazies” or “wackos”), people who attribute social problems to mental illness, and people who oppose giving fair or new chances to those who’ve experienced a mental illness. 

Before opening up about your mental health, be clear about why you’ve chosen to tell a certain person, what you hope to gain, and how you’ll proceed if they can’t emotionally handle the information. 

4. Choose an ideal time to talk, and keep it simple. 

Dawn Brown, director of community engagement for NAMI, recommends choosing a time where you’re alone, relaxed, and have enough time to explore the subject.

“I wouldn’t wait ’till you have a fight with your spouse to bring it up,” she says.  

Similarly, sticking to the basic facts of what you’ve experienced and why you’re sharing that information can provide necessary guardrails for the conversation. If you feel ready to delve deeper, consider how that might affect the discussion if the person you’re talking to isn’t prepared to do the same.  

5. Seek additional support and resources. 

No matter how your conversation goes, it can be essential to seek additional support from groups and likeminded peers who will help you feel more empowered. Disclosing, whether to a medical professional or loved one, may be one step in a long recovery journey. NAMI provides resources like contact information for local support groups to those who call the HelpLine, and Honest, Open, Proud provides similar referrals at the program’s end. 

Feeling connected to the right support can be particularly important for people who can’t find culturally competent mental health providers, or those whose family members and friends have vastly different views of mental health as a result of cultural attitudes or beliefs. 

Anderson says it’s important to stay hopeful and remember that help is out there. 

“There will be individuals who don’t get it, who will always have a discriminatory perspective, and individuals who don’t know but want to help, and then those who really get it,” she says.

If you want to talk to someone, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. ET, or email info@nami.org.

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The best telescopes for beginners

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By Colin Rosemont

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. Read the full guide to telescopes for beginners.

Few things are as awe-inspiring as being out under a clear night sky, looking up, and gazing at a seemingly infinite array of stars overhead. So we gathered 10 telescopes, and after five months of star parties we think the Celestron NexStar 5SE is the best telescope for a curious amateur. It gathers enough light for you to view the best features of our solar system, and it gives you enough power to begin to explore deep-sky objects. In addition, this model has an electronic GPS database preloaded with almost 40,000 celestial objects, and after you calibrate the scope, it can scan the skies for you.

Our overall pick for the best amateur telescope, the Celestron NexStar 5SE is a Schmidt-Cassegrain scope, a design that uses both lenses and mirrors in a relatively compact package. It has a primary 5-inch mirror, which is big enough for a light-gathering capacity that yields crisp images of some of the best objects in our solar system, from Saturn’s rings to Jupiter’s cloud bands, and provides sufficient power to introduce you to objects in the deep sky.

This telescope operates on a fully computerized system and gives you a handheld controller to guide it. Instead of fumbling through the learning curve of reading star charts and aligning the telescope manually, you can align and focus your telescope on a myriad of celestial objects with the press of a button. Unlike with some of the NexStar 5SE’s competitors, this controller worked flawlessly in our tests, offering micro adjustments and responsive tracking with the attached controller system. The NexStar 5SE weighs 15 pounds, which is very portable relative to other options out there, so you should have no problem packing it up into a trunk and setting it up on location.

The Astronomers Without Borders OneSky Reflector Telescope offers the most scope for the money if you don’t want an electronic GPS function (meaning it won’t automatically find the specific celestial bodies you seek). One reason you may not want a manual telescope: You have to collimate (align) the telescope’s mirrors, which can be tedious or frustrating if you weren’t aware it had to be done. With that in mind, some of our experts told us they preferred (and even advised) learning the ins and outs of astronomy on a manual telescope, so if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll become a smarter stargazer.

Like our top pick, this Newtonian-style reflector telescope has a 5-inch mirror, but it’s designed to sit on a tabletop rather than on a tripod, so it works best if you have a picnic table or other support to set it on. The mirrors expand and collapse, making this model even more amenable to storing indoors. We easily spotted Saturn’s rings and Jupiter and its moons with this model. Even better, free shipping is included.

The traditional Dobsonian telescope, a type of instrument sometimes referred to as a "light bucket," is all about light gathering, and the images we saw through the lens of the Sky-Watcher Traditional Dobsonian Telescope were awe-inspiring. The 8-inch mirror, which is what captures the light, is larger than that of our top pick, and that means crisper, clearer images and the ability to see fainter objects that are farther away. The trade-off is that this scope is huge: Loading it into a car or even moving it around the yard is a chore, so it’s best suited for folks who have a dedicated space for it at home.

Why you should trust us

I consulted numerous experts for guidance while I researched what makes the best telescope. I spoke with Daniel Mounsey, who works at Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes, a retailer that’s known as telescope/binocular central for serious skywatchers and birders in Los Angeles. Mounsey has been a guest lecturer at astronomical trade shows and academic institutions, including Loyola Marymount University and El Camino College, and has taught astronomy at the Creative Minds Learning Center in Culver City, California. He has appeared in numerous astronomical publications, including Astronomy Magazine, Astronomy Technology Today, and Sky & Telescope. He also founded the Oak Canyon Astronomy Group, which hosts star parties every month of the year.

In addition, I spoke with Margaret McCrea, president of the Rose City Astronomers of Portland, Oregon, a nonprofit group that supports the public in pursuit of education and interests in astronomy, as well as with Greg Jones, another member of that organization and president of Eclipse Technologies.

Personally, I grew up around telescopes, and I’ve had a longtime interest in astronomy, but I still consider myself a beginner. My relative lack of expertise allowed me to get a fresh perspective on each telescope model we tested, flailing and making mistakes when setup instructions were not clear and learning to operate each telescope as though I were a complete novice—exactly the group we wanted to write this guide for.

Who this is for

These telescopes are for beginning astronomers, and designed to help you become familiar with the night sky. Using one of these scopes, you can start with a look at the moon, move on to the planets of our solar system, and then venture on to the "deep sky" to examine star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. We wanted to find scopes that had the appropriate range to start a new astronomer out and then keep them involved. We also limited our testing pool to telescopes that were about $700 or less: Once you start spending more, telescopes become more specialized, and if you’re at that stage you likely already know what specific features you’d like to spend that extra cash on.

How we picked

Telescope

Photo: Colin Rosemont

We spent over 20 hours scouring the Internet for every resource written about buying your first telescope. We went to the Rose City Astronomers telescope workshop in 2017, and we interviewed its members and the club’s president about the most common trials and tribulations they’ve witnessed when new sky watchers begin shifting their gazes upward. While in Los Angeles we stopped by the well-known Woodland Hills Camera & Telescope, as well as the Griffith Observatory to speak with the staff.

After interviewing our experts and reading through NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe, Terence Dickinson’s quintessential reference, as well as taking advice from published sources at GeekWrapped, Space.com, Sky & Telescope, and the inner reaches of the Cloudy Nights forum, we had a pretty good sense of what we were looking for.

Aperture might be the most discussed component of a telescope. The aperture is the diameter of the telescope’s mirror or lens, and it determines how much light the telescope lets in and, in turn, how sharp the image appears.

Telescope

The aperture size of our top pick, the Celestron NexStar 5SE, is 5 inches. Photo: Caleigh Waldman

These criteria can be said to correspond to the strength and power of the telescope. And yet, as Mounsey of Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes and the Oak Canyon Astronomy Group warned us, one mistake that beginners make when choosing a telescope is thinking that bigger is always better when it comes to aperture. Bigger aperture most often means a higher price and a bulkier telescope.

As Mounsey stressed, the need for a bigger aperture depends on where you are viewing from and what you hope to see. If you are viewing super-dark skies with hopes of seeing deep-sky objects such as diffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae, open clusters, globular clusters, and galaxies of the Messier catalog, the "bigger aperture equals better vision" maxim holds true. Another concern: The "urban aperture" myth suggests that a larger-aperture telescope will collect excess light pollution in city environments, thus affecting performance. A larger aperture will in fact collect more starlight in any scenario, allowing you to view fainter objects. That said, larger apertures are more sensitive to heat currents and turbulent atmospheric conditions, and that can affect the image’s sharpness. For our testing pool we did not venture into the much larger 10-inch, 12-inch, or 14-plus-inch apertures, which are often so big and unwieldy as to deter many people from getting their telescope out and using it as much as possible.

Magnification is also a big consideration, and it’s determined by two things. First is the focal length, or the distance (in millimeters) between the telescope’s principal lens or mirror and the point where the light rays come together. The focal length is equal to the telescope’s focal ratio (f/number) multiplied by the diameter of the primary optic, or aperture. It is the focal length that is the primary factor in determining the telescope’s magnifying power.

Moon

Looking at the moon through Celestron’s 25mm eyepiece (shot on an iPhone). Photo: Eve O’Neill

More magnifying power does mean you can see tinier objects that are farther away, but it doesn’t necessarily mean better image quality. At lower magnifications the image you observe can appear bright and in good resolution, whereas at higher magnifications the same amount of light is dispersed over a larger area, resulting in a bigger but blurrier image. Think about the effect of blowing up an image on your phone or computer beyond its normal size. You don’t always get the best image quality.

The second key component of determining magnification is the telescope’s eyepiece. To figure out your telescope’s magnifying power, you have to divide the focal length of the telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece. If you put a 10mm eyepiece on a telescope with a 1000mm focal length, for example, your magnification power will be 100x.

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

You can determine a telescope’s magnification limits by multiplying the diameter (in millimeters) of the main lens or mirror by 2. So a 150mm telescope, for instance, would have a practical magnification limit of about 300x. As a general rule, the maximum amount of desired magnification for a telescope is 50x per inch of aperture. If you have our top pick, the Celestron NexStar 5SE, which boasts a 5-inch aperture, 250x is the highest magnification, or power, you should consider.

Lenses are another consideration. A Barlow lens comes as an accessory with several of the telescopes we tested. This auxiliary lens system fits between the telescope and the eyepiece, decreasing the eyepiece’s focal length and offering double or sometimes even triple the magnification of the image.

All of the telescopes we tested come with a 20mm or 25mm eyepiece. Most of the models we tried also come with a 10mm eyepiece. It may seem counterintuitive, but the 10mm eyepiece offers more magnification, producing an enlarged image and a smaller field of view.

A finder scope comes included with a telescope and is normally mounted on the telescope itself. Each finder scope has either a battery-operated red dot or a set of crosshairs to allow you to align and center an object in its sights. Aligning the finder scope before viewing through your telescope is an essential step that will help you locate what you’re looking for through the more powerful telescope.

Telescope

The finder scope helps you locate an object in the sky, at its normal size, before looking through the eyepiece. Photo: Caleigh Waldman

Next, we learned about the different types of scopes. In a refractor telescope, light passes through the lens at the front and travels directly to a mirror at the back of the scope and then into the eyepiece. Through this type of telescope, you can view objects both in the sky and on earth, because the image is not inverted inside the telescope. The trade-off is that this type of telescope generally does not do as well with faint objects in the sky.

A reflector telescope uses two mirrors instead of a lens to gather and focus light. Such models typically allow for higher image quality of faint sky objects. On the downside, reflector telescopes can gather more dust and debris in their internal components and require a bit more maintenance. Dobsonian telescopes, a type of reflector model, are often referred to in astronomy circles as "light buckets."

A compound, or Schmidt-Cassegrain, telescope (sometimes referred to as a catadioptric or Cassegrain telescope for short) is a combination of two mirrors and one lens. These scopes are best for viewing faint objects and can also work for viewing objects on earth.

Finally, we familiarized ourselves with the mounts that scopes come on. An altazimuth mount, or alt-aziumth mount, is a simple system that moves both vertically ("altitude" motion up and down) and horizontally ("azimuth" motion side to side). This kind offers the best beginner experience, in ease of use and control of the scope. These mounts sometimes come with computer controls that will find objects in the sky for you.

Equatorial mounts are more complicated and must be aligned with the earth’s axis. Once you’ve done that, the scope tracks objects in the sky as they move. This design is especially useful for astrophotography, because it eliminates field rotation as it tracks the object through the night sky.

How we tested

Telescope

Photo: Colin Rosemont

We selected and evaluated 10 telescopes over the course of five months, giving each telescope its own test run under a clear city night sky in Portland, Oregon. This location proved best for viewing the brightest planets in the sky (Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), as well as for enjoying amazing views of the moon. On an especially clear night in Portland in early spring, we set up our fleet of telescopes to get great views of Jupiter and its moons, along with Saturn’s rings, in the early hours before sunrise. For a darker night sky, we brought the telescopes out for a star party in the high desert near Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon.

We timed how long we took to set up each telescope and have it ready for stargazing. Nobody wants to be discouraged by the technology before they even have the chance to position it outside, so ease of setup was a big factor in our assessment.

Telescope

We also tested the stability and user-friendliness of each telescope’s mount. While we were out under the stars with a group of 12 onlookers, we had several people peek through each telescope’s eyepiece in quick succession. The slight bumps of the eyepiece that came with several people using each telescope keyed us in to which mounts were sturdy and which ones could not handle even the slightest shake without losing the image in its frame. Additionally, we took portability into account, considering size, weight, and packability for the average recreational observer.

We asked each person in our 12-person group out in the desert to rank (from one to 10) the relative clarity of the image and the brightness level of our top five contenders. To measure each telescope’s ease of use, we asked those people to operate each telescope, moving it back and forth between Jupiter and the moon, two relatively easily located objects in the night sky. We then averaged those numbers.

Telescope

We tested three different computerized mounts, allowing for a side-by-side comparison of their functionality. A recurring word of advice from our interviewed experts: Figure out how to work your computerized system before you get out under the night sky! Using the technology can definitely involve a learning curve, so it is a good idea to dial it in while you’re in the comfort of your own backyard, before you go farther afield.

To test the telescopes’ optical quality, we followed the advice of Greg Jones, president of Eclipse Technologies and resident optics expert of the Rose City Astronomers club, in performing a Ronchi eyepiece test. Using a 35mm film canister and the Ronchi screen that Jones sent to us, we improvised a Ronchi eyepiece. After replacing the normal eyepiece with the Ronchi eyepiece fitted with the screen, we focused the telescopes on a bright star to see whether we observed a pattern of parallel lines on the object.

As expected, we observed lines that appeared relatively straight and parallel to the edge, rather than the warped lines that would indicate some type of aberration or distortion in the main optical unit. The majority of commercial telescopes nowadays are manufactured in China or Taiwan; the standardized manufacturing and testing methods those companies use ensure more consistent optical quality than in the past, as well as increasingly affordable prices.

Our pick: Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

The Celestron NexStar 5SE Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is our top pick due to its all-around accessibility and ease of use. Its primary 5-inch mirror offers crisp, intimate views of the moon and bright planets, and provides an entry into views of distant galaxies and star clusters. This telescope operates on a fully computerized system with a handheld controller to guide the telescope across the sky. In contrast to our experience with some competing models, we found that this controller worked seamlessly, offering micro adjustments and responsive tracking with the attached controller system. The telescope and the included tripod together weigh about 27 pounds and easily disassemble into several portable pieces.

The NexStar 5SE is one in a series of telescopes from Celestron that also includes a 4SE, 6SE, 8SE, and so on, with the model numbers indicating the aperture size (in inches) of the main optical unit. We chose the 5SE as the best telescope for most beginners because of its size, functionality, and cost. We were looking for portability in a telescope, so we set aside the larger models, the 6SE and above. Then we set aside the 4SE model due to its more limited capacity to offer views of deep-sky objects. Although we would recommend upgrading to the NexStar 6SE if size is not much of an issue for you—an extra inch of aperture opens up more light-gathering potential and thus more viewing opportunities—we stand by the 5SE as the model that hits the sweet spot where performance and size meet.

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

Initially we had to decide whether to include these computerized models at all in our testing pool. When you’re shopping, the choice comes down to a question of personal philosophy and how you want to experience the stars. These new technologies will literally find things in the sky for you, making star charts and an internalized knowledge of the stars virtually obsolete. But what happens when that technology stops working for whatever reason? Are you still the expert you once thought you were? And do you really need a computerized telescope when star-finding applications are so readily available on a smartphone? These were all questions posed to us by the Rose City Astronomers, many of whom have gotten fed up more than once trying to help a beginner navigate their fancy tech-heavy telescope.

In the end, we found the technology to offer a true advantage for a beginner—these computerized mounts can help speed up the learning process and assist novices in navigating the endless sea of stars without their having to commit years of their lives to accumulating that kind of knowledge. (If you want to learn the old-fashioned way, a great way to involve the whole family is to get a copy of The Stars: A New Way to See Them, an astronomy how-to written by H.A. Rey, the creator of Curious George.)

The GPS features are built into the mount, not the telescope itself. When you enter information such as the date, the time, and the nearest city to your observing site, the NexStar 5SE offers up a database of nearly 40,000 nighttime objects. This database allows you to identify objects you see through the scope, as well as to instruct the telescope to find new objects. The Tour feature offers a list of the best objects to view tailored to your time and location anywhere in the world.

Besides offering an appealing collapsable size for transportation and storage, in our tests the NexStar 5SE excelled in its ease of setup and use. Along with an extensive user manual, the NexStar 5SE comes with an expedited and abridged setup manual replete with instructional photos intended to get you using your telescope as fast as possible. Using these friendly instructions, we had the telescope mounted and set up in under 15 minutes and were already playing with the SkyAlign telescope-alignment features.

The NexStar 5SE includes a 25mm eyepiece, which serves as the best starter eyepiece to expand upon later. It also comes with an ultra-sturdy steel tripod and allows for the attachment of the optical tube with no tools necessary. Although we don’t dive into the fast-growing possibilities of using your telescope for astrophotography in this guide, note that the NexStar 5SE’s tripod (and not that of the 6SE or the 8SE) includes a wedge for adjusting the mount and allowing for some tinkering in longer-exposure astrophotography. This telescope does take eight AA batteries, and those are not included.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

The NexStar 5SE runs on eight AA batteries to power the mount. When the mount is in use, these batteries drain fast, offering an average of only two to four hours of power. If you’re out for an entire evening, the mount can eat through your battery supply. It is common practice, however, to use batteries in the NexStar telescope as a backup to an external battery-power source so that the scope’s operation will not be interrupted.

When using your NexStar at home or near a wall power outlet, consider investing in an AC adapter, like this one from Celestron. If you’re out at a remote location, you could draw power from your car battery and a portable 12 V DC power supply. Celestron also sells an accessory called a Power Tank for use in the field, but we haven’t tested it ourselves.

Budget pick: Astronomers Without Borders OneSky Reflector Telescope

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

Finding a high-quality telescope on a budget can be hard, so when we kept hearing about the Astronomers Without Borders OneSky Reflector Telescope (manufactured by Celestron), which comes in at under $200, we had to give it a try. This telescope is manufactured especially for sale by the nonprofit organization Astronomers Without Borders, whose profits go toward expanding astronomical scientific educational programming in underserved countries around the world. During our tests, this model not only excelled in image quality, providing great views of Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, and faint detail in the spiral arms of the Andromeda galaxy, but also offered the best mix of portability and ease of assembly and use for its price.

When you’re looking for a telescope on a budget, it is important to consider potential flaws such as poor optics, shaky mounts, substandard eyepieces, and faulty finder scopes. We vetted the OneSky for all of these common issues, and it passed our examination with flying colors.

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

The OneSky is easily portable. The optical truss tube assembly collapses from its 24-inch viewing length to 14 inches, and it weighs only 14 pounds. The tabletop Dobsonian mount, a simplified alt-azimuth mount, is steady and smooth, and it works well when the OneSky telescope is sitting on a table or some other solid platform. This swiveling mount has an integrated handle for easy carrying, and in our experience it proved reasonably stable and smooth when we searched for objects in the night sky.

The OneSky comes with both a 10mm eyepiece and a 25mm eyepiece for a range of viewing magnifications. For the price, this starter telescope has a dynamic range that can really get you exploring everything from the moon to some deep-sky objects. We found that out of the box the OneSky needed collimation (alignment of the telescope mirrors). With the help of online forums to complete the collimation, you can be ready to go.

Also great: Sky-Watcher Traditional Dobsonian Telescope (8-inch)

Telescope

Photo: Josh Roth

The Sky-Watcher Traditional Dobsonian Telescope (8-inch) is another great choice. The upgrade it provides in light-gathering capacity, however, comes with the caveat that next to our Astronomers Without Borders budget pick, this Sky-Watcher Dobsonian model is substantially larger, weighing about 60 pounds including the scope and base. It ships in two boxes, one housing the tubular scope and the other containing the unassembled swiveling base. We had this telescope fully assembled and ready to go in under an hour, which, compared with the process for some other Dobsonians, proved to be quite fast.

This telescope fits the category that experts most often suggest for beginners looking to get the most bang for their buck. Also referred to as "light buckets," Dobsonian models offer exceptional image quality and light-gathering capability for the price. For our tests, we were able to transport two 8-inch Dobsonians in the back of a Subaru hatchback, but we imagine that a single Dobsonian could fit in the majority of cars with some ingenuity on your part. That being said, don’t expect to just throw this telescope in your trunk and head out with a bunch of friends to do some stargazing. This telescope works best for backyard or "sidewalk" viewing, where minimal transportation is required.

Telescope

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

As with our Astronomers Without Borders budget pick, this Sky-Watcher Dobsonian does not come with any computerized components to assist in locating and tracking stars in the sky.

For a beginner the absence of such a system can be either a blessing or a curse. When we interviewed Greg Jones, president of Eclipse Technologies and member of the Rose City Astronomers, he stated, "People will generally use [manual] telescopes a lot more than computerized models… Every star-viewing event, people show up with their computerized mounts wondering how to use them and needing help." The superb optics of this pick from Sky-Watcher will work best for people who want a taste of a high-powered scope but don’t need or want the hassle of a computerized mount.

The competition

Celestron Astro Fi 130 mm Newtonian: This new telescope from Celestron offers some neat technological features, as it emits its own Wi-Fi signal and allows you to control the mount using an application on your smartphone or tablet. We really wanted to like this smart-tech interface, but delays and glitches in the connection thwarted our repeated attempts at smooth operation, causing more frustration than we thought this tech was worth. We also found the tripod to be considerably flimsier than that of our top choice.

Orion SkyQuest XT8i IntelliScope Dobsonian: While this large 8-inch Dobsonian telescope offered great views of faint galaxies and nebulae in our tests, its time-intensive setup and many moving parts made it feel less accessible and portable than our top pick. Although it offers a computer database of more than 14,000 objects, this telescope instructs you to position the scope manually instead of moving on a motorized system. This method has its pros and cons, but we’d like the accessibility of motorized mounts if we’re going for GPS functions.

Celestron Inspire 80AZ Refractor: Although this straightforward and easily assembled refractor telescope offered good views of the planets in our tests, with an 80mm aperture, it couldn’t compare to the 5-inch aperture and image quality of our budget pick.

Sky-Watcher Virtuoso: This model is intended to excel at tracking objects in the sky throughout their trajectory, making it suitable for people venturing into astrophotography. But it comes with a difficult learning curve, and it fits a niche segment that is not beginner-friendly.

Levenhuk Strike 90 Plus: This 90mm refractor telescope, while classic in its design, comes with a mount and tripod that produced more shakiness than our budget pick in our tests. We also had trouble getting the included counterweight to control the telescope’s position effectively.

Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector: While we were impressed with the image quality from such a mini Dobsonian, the SkyScanner did not feel as grab-and-go as another Orion model we tested, the kid-friendly GoScope, a refractor scope ideal for casual viewing. The SkyScanner offered better planetary viewing than the kids scope, but when it came to whipping the Orion GoScope out of its specially designed backpack and pointing it at the moon, it really took the cake.

Care and maintenance

Take care of your telescope, and your equipment will serve you well for years. Dust or moisture can build up on the lens or mirror depending on what type of telescope you have. The traditional method for cleaning the lens or mirror is to brush lightly with a camel-hair brush. You can find such brushes in camera shops; their soft bristles will do the least damage in scraping the optical unit. Alternatively you can use a can of pressurized air to spray the glass surface to remove any excess dust particles. If your optical unit is in need of a deep cleaning, you can apply an optical-cleaning solution to remove debris. To minimize the need to clean your telescope, put all lens covers back on once you have finished using it.

That said, the best telescope for you is the one that you use the most out in the field. Dirt will inevitably accumulate in small amounts on your telescope lens and mirrors. You can have quite a bit of dust and crud build up with very little noticeable effect on your viewing experience.

In addition, don’t leave your telescope out and exposed to the elements for any length of time. Avoid inclement weather, and don’t leave it in the heat of your car. We suggest storing your telescope in a safe place inside where it is least susceptible to moisture, dust buildup, and bumps from a child or pet.

A few words of advice

People in the amateur astronomy community are generally very welcoming and willing to share their expertise with newcomers who are just starting out. Getting involved with your local astronomy club and attending its organized star-viewing parties can be a great way to get to know like-minded people and hear some advice about telescopes from seasoned veterans.

Observing the try-before-you-buy maxim, although sometimes an unrealistic goal, can be a good way to make sure you’re purchasing the right telescope for your needs and tastes. As Margaret McCrea, president of the Rose City Astronomers club, emphasized to us, "Telescopes are scientific instruments and not toys. My advice is to go to your local astronomy club and look through other people’s telescopes first to get a better idea of what kind of models are out there and what best meet your individual needs. Another question you need to have answered for yourself is, what do you want to look at? Buying a telescope right off the bat is like buying a set of golf clubs before ever playing the game."

By far the most accessible of stargazing instruments is a good pair of binoculars. We tested the Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 Binoculars and found that they appealed to people looking for the easiest way to catch a glimpse of the night sky (you’ll likely need a tripod to hold them steady). If you’re interested in really learning the stars but not quite ready to invest in a serious telescope, and you don’t want to spend your money on a cheaper model, we suggest these binoculars as a great point of entry. (For more on the topic, our binocular guide is here, though it concentrates on models with 10x magnification—great for viewing far-off critters, but not far-off stars.)

Spending long nights outside under the stars comes with an element of intensity. Since we did our testing up in the Pacific Northwest, we were very attuned to the frigid winter nights and the cloud cover that often swept in and obscured our views. So depending on where you are in the world, if you intend to spend the requisite nighttime hours to get a grasp on what is above you, be prepared with warm clothes, snacks, and a firm resolve. We suggest investing in a red flashlight or a headlamp with that function so as not to affect your hard-earned night vision or that of your viewing partners. And although it might be tempting, here’s a friendly reminder not to look through your telescope into the sun.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

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I met the author of the viral ‘don’t pick my flowers’ note

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The internet is bitterly divided over the Great Floral Fracas of 2019.

After a bitter war of Post-It notes erupted on a street in south London, and promptly went viral, the author of the very first note would like to set the record straight. 

A few days ago, I was walking along my road in Brixton when I spotted a tree that was papered a kaleidoscopic array of handwritten notes. “Please don’t pick my flowers. Thank you,” read the first missive. “In an area massively affected by gentrification, it’s sad to see people claiming ownership of even the flowers,” replied another note, penned in green ink. 

After I tweeted photos of the war of words, the argument went viral, gaining 16K likes, and 2.1K retweets, and even a cheeky retweet from James Corden. Everyone was taking sides. The internet was now split into three distinct camps: Team My Flowers, Team Green Ink, and Team Pink Post It Note. 

After the flower argument made its way into nigh-on every national newspaper, I received a DM from the author of the original “don’t pick my flowers” note asking if I’d like to pop round for a chat and a glass of wine in her garden. Naturally, I was keen to meet the owner of the besieged lupin to learn the history of what led up to the posting of the original note. So, last night, I knocked on a door near the site of the floral fracas, and came face to face with the author of the note — Serena Wilson. She handed me a glass of wine and showed me her garden, where she grows plants that she distributes in containers around the neighbourhood. 

Enjoying a glass of wine in Serena's garden.

Enjoying a glass of wine in Serena’s garden.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

Accountant Serena (who declined a photograph of herself) told me she’d had a sleepless night after reading the handwritten replies to her original note. In fact, she felt so upset that she accidentally broke a spade in two digging up the plants from the container that sparked the note war. 

Serena had put the planter on the street for everyone to enjoy. “My friend built the frame, I bought the soil, I put it there — that is my gift to the neighbourhood,” she said.  

“The important message was don’t pick the flowers, but it was also bookended with please and thank you,” she told me. Her note wasn’t intended to spark turf war over who owns flowers, but rather to serve as a message that the plant “belongs to everybody, with the obligation that you leave it there for everybody.” 

A spade was harmed in the making of this floral fracas.

A spade was harmed in the making of this floral fracas.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable 

I asked her about the events leading up to this acrimonious exchange of notes. She told me she’d been planting flowers in containers around the neighbourhood for the past four years. Sharing the plants with the community is something that brings her joy and has helped her through some challenging times recently. “My dad died last year, I had a bugger of a year last year, getting over a long term relationship, my dad dying,” she said. “There’s been quite a lot of stuff to deal with and actually going out and growing stuff is quite nice.”

Serena's back garden.

Serena’s back garden.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

“I basically didn’t sleep on Thursday night, I was just so rigid with anger.”

But Serena — and other community gardeners in the area — had noticed a spate of plants being removed entirely from containers by the root and then left to die. “It’s not just people walking past and taking the odd flower,” said Serena. 

When Serena came home to find not one but two replies to her original note, she was extremely upset. “I came down that evening, I saw those two notes and the big blooms had been removed,” she said. 

The author of the note written in green ink was subject to a rather large dose of criticism when the tweet picked up steam. “I’m fully in team post-it note and absolutely abhor green pen person,” wrote one critic on Twitter. So, what does Serena make of “green ink” — as the author of one of the notes has been dubbed online. “My poison pen pal — what was she trying to achieve?” Serena asked. “Was she telling me not to put plants there because it’s a public area or was she telling me I need to get off my high horse? I basically didn’t sleep on Thursday night, I was just so rigid with anger,” she said. “The thing I really wanted to do was just put a note saying: ‘Reader, I paid for them.'”

One burning question that I needed to get to the bottom of was this: who was responsible for encasing the notes in plastic wallets and pinning them to a tree? Serena told me that the respondents to her note had taken it upon themselves to weather-proof their own notes and even provided their own drawing pins. “That takes some effort,” she said. 

Were the authors of the green-pen note and pink Post-It acting together? Were they even part of the same household? “What makes me think that they weren’t acting together was the fact that their plastic wallets were different and their drawing pins were different — so it was two separate households wanting to tick me off,” she said.

The two notes which prompted Serena to remove her flowers from the street.

The two notes which prompted Serena to remove her flowers from the street.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

“What was amazing this weekend was the people who came to talk to me,” said Serena. After her note gained traction online, Serena said people came over to express their support and sorrow over what had happened. After the green-ink and pink Post-It appeared, Serena decided to take her plants elsewhere, and distributed them in planters in the vicinity. 

“I’ve had people wander over and say ‘I’m really sorry they’ve gone,'” Serena explained. Another time, a neighbour saw her crying and came over and gave her a hug. “I was just standing there looking at the tree and I was so hurt by that green message and this lovely neighbour was just there and said ‘how are you’ and I just burst into tears and she was just there to give me a hug,” said Serena.

I asked Serena how she’s feeling about everything now she’s on the other side of the blossom bloodshed. “I’m feeling my faith in humankind has been so massively restored,” she said. “I’m so alarmed by stuff that’s happening in the world, stuff our politicians are saying, things that are happening with reproductive rights, but I feel so much more positive now.” 

Will she consider putting a container at the scene of the crime again? “Yeah, I will keep watering the plants in the neighbourhood because they’ll die horribly if I don’t,” she said. “What I’m going to do is put a bit of an evergreen in there.”

So, what’s the moral of this summertime saga? That community flowers could always use an extra drop of water from kind passersby. That flowers are for everyone to enjoy. That you should always be nice to your neighbours. 

 

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/314pT6x
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Nude Photography: Models Share How Not to Be Creepy (NSFW)

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Nude photography can be a sensitive subject. Whilst there’s nothing controversial about the human body, the same cannot always be said about a photographer’s intentions. For many, their motives are honest and they just want to create. However, for others, it’s sad to say that they’re looking for cheap thrills and ways to take advantage of a vulnerable situation. There’s also the camp that has all the best intentions in the world but still manage to tick the creepy male photographer box. So if you’re new to this or need to reflect on your own approach, here are some tips from The Phoblographer and active models working in the industry.

from The Phoblographer http://bit.ly/2JWwoTt
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