Stargazing- 8 Tips All Super Stargazers (and Novices) Should Know And Follow
Submitted by Guest Blogger, Mark Taylor
If you have lived in a large city with many lights, you probably don’t get to see the starry sky in all its glory every day. However, if you have ever visited the countryside, at some time, you have probably gazed upwards and marveled at the incredibly starry sky.
Whether you like to gaze at the night sky because you find it peaceful or are fascinated by the celestial objects and want to know more about them, knowing some stargazing tips can be quite useful. It enriches your stargazing experience and allows you to get more intimate with the night time sky.
Get up high.
If you live in an urban area with many lights, observing the nighttime sky can be difficult. Light pollution can take away your adaptation to darkness, and the large buildings can also obstruct your view.
Therefore, if you want to see the sky from an urban area, you should try and get as high as possible above the lights. Going on top of a tall building or up a hill can help you get a much better view of the sky.
It would be best if you also stayed away from the bright street lights, which can disrupt your dark adaptation for up to 20 minutes. Furthermore, the LED lights that are commonly used these days are even worse. So, stay away from lights and find a high spot if you want to see the stars from an urban area.
If you need a flashlight, get one with red light:
You usually have to go to a less populated area with fewer lights for the best stargazing experiences. Most people visit dark sky parks and camp at night to observe the sky.
However, when you are hiking or moving around in the dark, using a flashlight can cause problems. It can make it difficult for your eyes to adapt to the darkness and ruin your stargazing experience.
Ideally, you should avoid any lights for at least 20 minutes before observing the stars. However, if you do need to use a light, stick to one with a red light. Red light doesn’t have the same effect as white or blue light, and our eyes can adapt to darkness quicker if exposed only to red light.
Therefore, invest in red light, or create your own, by wrapping some red cellophane paper in front of your flashlight.
Don’t buy a telescope, at least for now:
Novice stargazers are usually tempted to buy a telescope and other high-tech stargazing tools. However, they can be quite expensive, and many people get frustrated because they are difficult to use and don’t enhance their stargazing experience.
Before you get a large and expensive telescope, you need to learn about astronomy, and the best way to go about it is to invest in a nice pair of binoculars as they are a nice middle ground between a large telescope and the naked eye.
Binoculars aren’t that expensive either, and you can easily get some long-range scopes under $500.
Know the best time for stargazing:
The heavens above us keep constantly changing; therefore, for the best stargazing experience, you need to know when to head out for your stargazing expedition.
If you are ready to bear the cold, the best time for stargazing is one clear winter night. During the summer, there can be a lot of humidity in the air, so that the view can be a little blurry in the evening.
Furthermore, it would be best to go for stargazing for the best viewing experience when the moon is in its early phases; otherwise, a full moon can reflect too much light and wash out the rest of the view.
Download a good stargazing app:
Knowing the position of certain stars and other celestial objects with respect to the earth can be very useful when going on a stargazing trip. A few years ago, you needed to look at stargazing charts to learn about celestial objects' positions, but now you can download convenient applications that can do all the work for you.
Stellarium Is an excellent application for stargazing. It lets you observe the positions of celestial objects and view the stars from your location’s perspective.
Starwalk, Google Sky Map, and Exoplanet are also good apps to consider.
Find and join local amateur astronomer’s club:
A great way to improve your learning about the skies and make your stargazing trips more enjoyable is to do it with other people. There is probably going to be an amateur astronomer’s club in your surroundings; joining them can have many advantages.
Firstly, you get to meet several people with the same interest as you, and you can learn a lot from them. Secondly, they will also have better equipment for stargazing. Therefore, find your local astronomer’s club, and if there isn’t one, consider forming it with some friends.
Learn how to differentiate between stars and planets:
One of the first things you should learn as an astronomy enthusiast is identifying stars and planets. If the light in the sky is sparkling, it is probably a star, and if it appears to be moving, it is probably a planet. Moreover, planets usually shine much brighter than stars; however, obviously, there will be millions of stars in the sky and only a few planets. Therefore, spotting them can be challenging if you don’t have an idea of their position, and that’s where stargazing apps can be very helpful.
Follow some astronomers and astronomy pages on Twitter:
Twitter is a great source of information. If you want to keep up with all the events and other happenings in the astronomy world, following your favorite astronomers on Twitter can be quite helpful.
You can learn a lot from these astronomy pages, and also find out about local astronomy groups. Try to find some good astronomy-related pages on other platforms as well.
Looking at the majestic nighttime sky, with all the incredible stars and other celestial objects can be a truly fascinating experience. However, if you are new to this hobby, it can be a little daunting; therefore, I hope that this post’s tips help you have a more enjoyable and exciting astronomy experience