Star gazing can be a wonderfully rewarding hobby. For the avid gazer, perhaps unable to indulge their hobby through brass telescopes elegantly positioned in high-up cubby holes, there’s only one option left – time to go outside!
Stargazing is basically free (aside from investment in decent astronomical telescopes) and can be a great activity for all ages throughout the year. In the northern sky, about 3,000 stars are visible, including Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) Constellations drift across the sky throughout the night in correlation with the turning of the earth and its orbit around the sun.
The Best Spot
Choosing the perfect spot is fairly easy for those who live out in the country or have access to a car. Look for somewhere away from traffic, trees and artificial lighting like streetlights or heavily populated areas. You’ll usually need about five clear miles in each direction to be free of light pollution (depending on the landscape)
Equipment Binoculars are fine for spotting areas of interest, but the steadiness and precision of telescopes is the best way to see stars clearly. Remember to keep astronomical telescopes and binoculars in their protective cases to travel.
Provisions and Clothing
Even the British summer can be bracing at night! Never underestimate how cold you can become when stationary. Depending on the proposed length of your session, a couple of flasks of tea or hot chocolate, some tasty treats and sandwiches could be a godsend!
It’s vital to dress in warm layers with a thick coat on top, thick socks, gloves and a hat. Pack a few blankets in the car for companions who could feel the cold a little more.
So nature has given your child a natural interest in astronomy, now it’s time for you to cultivate their curiosity. Aside from investing in one of our astronomical telescopes, here are a few ideas we think your little star gazer might enjoy!
The Right Equipment
Have you ever tried to seriously partake in a little astronomy with ineffective equipment? Without an efficient astronomical telescope, it’s easy to become frustrated. Binoculars are great for spotting areas of interest; however, it’s the telescope’s steadiness that’s crucial to a successful night of star spotting.
The night sky changes throughout the year. Good quality, informative astronomy books don’t cost the earth and make all the difference. Although a large reference book is great when using telescopes at home, be sure to invest in a companion travel-size version for star gazing walks or trips.
The Magic of DVD
Maybe you can’t get out into an area free from light pollution, or perhaps your little one has a cold, or maybe it’s too cloudy? Having some great astronomy DVD’s on hand is a fantastic way to really show what’s possible in the fascinating fields of space exploration.
Thrifty bedroom decoration tips can be a godsend for the parent of a child with niche interests such as nature spotting or star gazing. We absolutely love the idea of arranging glow-in-the-dark stars on your kid’s bedroom ceiling and walls. Perhaps choose a different ceiling/wall segment for each season, and do your best to depict some of the most noticeable constellations from each.
Always eager to help fill your astronomical telescopes with the most brilliant aspects of astronomy, here are a few key dates you need to keep your telescopes free for a little celestial observation! Check out our blog entry “The Best Meteor Showers for 2011” for information on specific meteor showers.
Remember that dates may not be 100% accurate, so keep your eyes peeled just before and after too.
3rd April – Saturn will be at opposition (closest to earth), making it a great time for viewing and photographing Saturn and its moons.
15th June – A total lunar eclipse!
22nd August – Neptune will be at opposition. Obviously great for viewing, but less powerful telescopes will only see a tiny blue dot.
25th September – Uranus at opposition, although to get a good look you’ll need powerful astronomical telescopes.
29th October – Jupiter at opposition (should be fine to view through most binoculars and telescopes)
10th December – Another total lunar eclipse!
In order to best view celestial events, try to find a spot away from artificial lighting, traffic and trees. Remember to let your eyes acclimatise to the darkness. Consider using a red torch or night vision to read guide books and study astronomy charts rather than a regular torch.
You can keep up to date on celestial events via fantastic news websites and forums like www.astronomy.co.uk. Off out star gazing tonight? Be sure to check out their “The Sky Tonight” section in preparation for your star gazing session.
You may be among the people seeking to purchase new telescopes. After all, such pieces of equipment are the perfect way of enabling you to explore the skies and further your interest in all things astronomical.
However, getting your hands on devices like this can be tricky at present due to the festive frenzy being seen in towns and shopping centres across the land.
Consumers are filling up streets and store aisles in their bid to stock up on Christmas presents, cards, wrapping paper, decorations and gifts.
So if you plan to head into a retail outlet to get telescopes, you might want to think again.
After all, you may even struggle to find a parking space and, if and when you eventually succeed in this task, you will still have to battle your way through throngs of people and wait in long queues before you can begin your journey home.
Rather than taking up a small proportion of your day and being easy, such a mission may become stressful soak up many hours.
However, you needn’t despair. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it is now possible for you to source such items from the comfort of your own home or office using the internet.
So, next time you have a spare few moments, you should stick the kettle on and settle down with a relaxing brew while you select and order your item of choice.
And, while you do, spare a thought for those poor folks who weren’t as canny as you were and had to struggle through the Christmas chaos!
Studying the stars is surely one of the most interesting things an individual can do. After all, in some ways it allows us to bridge the gap between where we stand on Earth and those fascinating and illusive entities we see when we look up into the night skies.
Indeed, our interest in such matters is one of the most remarkable features of humans as a species.
After all, no other animal is found star gazing, at least not that we know of.
And many of the cleverest people throughout history have engaged in this endeavour.
So, if you are a parent, you may well be eager to provide your children with the opportunity to come into contact with this discipline.
After all, if they are exposed to such ideas from a young age, they may go on to develop a life-long passion for astronomy. Who knows, they may even go on to make a career out of it.
One of the best ways of allowing boys and girls to engage with the rest of the universe is by providing them with telescopes from an early stage.
By doing this, you are showing them just how grand and intriguing the objects outside of our planet’s atmosphere are.
Depending on the personalities of your youngsters, this may well ignite their imaginations. And at the very least, you are providing them with an advantage when it comes to their education, as they are likely to have a better grasp on such matters than their peers who have not had access to telescopes.