What to do after you buy your first telescope?

So you just got your first telescope. Watching the Moon and the planets and all are nice. Maybe you've even spotted some bright deep sky objects like the Orion Nebula or the Pleadies cluster. Now what?

Originally from my reddit post here

1. The first thing I'd suggest is to get yourself a notebook and keep record of everything you do. Just a few lines everyday about the weather and viewing conditions and about the targets you observed would be fine. You will eventually go into more detail and even sketch down some celestial sights. Why is this recommended? Well, when we observe with the intent of taking down our observations, we actually start to look for more details subconsciously. It will also be really interesting to go through your logs in the future. Here's a really good article on astronomical logging.

2. Buy a good star atlas. Once you have exhuasted all the 'big and easy' targets like the planets and the Moon, you'll need a good star atlas to plan and execute your voyages. I personally use Sky and Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas, which shows stars upto the magnitude of 7.5, and still see much more stars with my small 4 inch reflector. The reason I still use it though is because of its small and handy form factor. You can either buy a really good star atlas as a book or print free star charts of a certain part of the sky that you are planning to observe. Star atlases are essential for star hopping - starting from a known visible target and 'hopping' your way to a more obscure target that can only be seen from your scope. Here's a really good article on star hopping and how to do it

3. Finding a list of targets to observe. Look into the Messier and the Caldwell Catalogue of deep-sky objects. These are popular targets and hunting them down with your telescope can be a really rewarding experience. Although many of these objects are brighter and are easy to find compared to the majority of deep sky objects, finding them can help you learn how to aim your scope around in a very advanced manner. I'd suggest you read Stephen James O'Meara's books on the Messier and Caldwell objects, if you could find them in your local library or something.

Don't be discouraged if you couldn't find something on your first try, remember that you can't see color on most of the deep sky objects like you see in photographs and most importantly, don't forget to have fun! Clear skies!