How to Practice Star Gazing

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Those who are interested in star gazing probably already have everything they need around their homes. A night of star gazing requires a blanket to lie on or a chair to sit on, a flashlight (preferably with red light) for reading the star chart, warm clothes if the weather is cool, and possibly a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Moonless nights are often the best for viewing stars, as the extra light from the moon makes seeing meteors and far off stars more difficult.

 

Here are five steps to enjoy stargazing:

 

Step 1: Plan ahead

Look at the weather for a clear night that isn’t too hot or cold. Make sure there aren’t any storms coming soon. You may also want to visit your local library in advance and check out some books on astronomy or stargazing so you have an idea of what you’re looking at. Alternatively, there are plenty of internet resources where you can find information about astronomy.

Step 2: Find an open area suitable for gazing and dress for the weather.

Make sure there aren’t too many trees around, as it will block your view. If it’s going to be a chilly night, be sure to wear a sweater/sweatshirt, pants, and possibly mittens. If it’s going to be on the hotter side, be sure to wear shorts, a t-shirt, and so on (but still be prepared with layers, because even warm summer nights can get chilly)

Step 3: Make sure there are no additional sources of light in the area where you will be gazing.

Light triggers some problems and makes the eyes more adapted to the brighter light. Move far away from all sources of lights. Try to stay away from street lights. The light emitted by such lamps can be obtrusive in your efforts to identify constellations and stars at night.

Step 4: Ask others to come with you.

Get a comfy blanket to lie on or cover up with, some chairs if not a blanket, a watch, a telescope if you wish to gaze that way, and any other things you might need,

Friends are good for keeping you company and they can also point out things you might not have seen. It’s also romantic if you and your significant other are out exploring together.

Step 5: Get Outside and Start Observing. Relax.

Now it’s time for the most exciting bit: Get outside and start learning your way around the night sky. You will be amazed what you can see. Enjoy yourself. Stargazing shouldn’t be stressful. It something to do in your spare time and is supposed to be fun.

Some favourite stargazing spots around Sydney are:

 

Katoomba airfield

Mount Ku-ring-gai.

 

Each month, the Sydney Observatory publishes star maps, which tell you what’s in the sky and where to look for it.