The art of Stargazing can be something magical that people really get into, if only they get the right start with the right advice. These ten tips won’t turn you into a professional Stargazer overnight, but they certainly will get you looking in the right direction. The only way the bottom is up so let’s look up at these ten top tips for people thinking of getting into stargazing…
1. Use a map
Get yourself a decent map of the stars so that you can try to identify the constellations above you. Use the moon, the North Star and your location to help you to recognize the star patterns.
2. Binoculars will serve you well
You do not need an all-singing, all-dancing telescope: a pair of decent binoculars would suit the beginner just as well. Wait until you find you enjoy the hobby before investing further. When you’re ready to upgrade to a telescope don’t go too crazy, try to get something that is easy to use and affordable.
3. Try to find a dark-sky site
With the number of lights that hang over a city at night, the stars can be difficult to see through the orange glow of street lamps. Try to find a site that is completely dark and has a wide horizon – climb a hill or go to a country park.
4. Link with astronomy groups or clubs
Find like-minded people by linking with astronomy groups, either by finding local clubs in your area or through the Internet. There are many online forums and groups that you can join to discuss your hobby.
5. Download an app
There are some amazing apps available to keep you in the know about celestial comings and goings. From Sky Maps to NASA virtual skies, you are sure to by able to download an app to suit your interests. Also check out staratlas.co.uk for a virtual view of the night sky where you are
6. Subscribe to an Astronomy Magazine
There are a whole host of periodicals that cater to the amateur astronomer. They will be able to provide seasonal maps, calendars, sky gazing tips and up-to-date information on new discoveries.
7. Get outside and spend time with the sky
You can’t stargaze from the comfort of your armchair, so get out there and look up! Start to notice patterns and bright objects. Watch for movement in the skies. Just start looking up and noticing.
8. Let your eyes adjust to the dark for 5-10 minutes or buy a red torch
You need to give your eyes time to adjust to the lack of light in your chosen stargazing spot. If you find it hard to pinpoint faint stars, try using “averted vision.” Your peripheral vision is much stronger than direct sight.
9. Keep warm
Most nighttime outdoor adventures come with cool or cold air, so it is important to be prepared. Wear appropriate clothing and take a flask of hot tea or coffee with you.
10. Get comfy and lie back
Looking up can give you a literal pain in the neck, so it is best to stargaze from a reclined position. A reclining lawn chair is a great idea, but a blanket and some cushions will do the same job.
Do you have any other tips for budding mature stargazers? If you do why not tell us what you know in the comments below.