Stargazing 101: Getting started

Sometimes we find ourselves staring up at the night sky wondering “What lives up there?” Although it can be daunting to see all the billions of stars twinkling back at us, they can also be the key to understanding the universe. So if you find yourself lost with all those cosmic light then look no further – we have a stargazing 101 for looking at the stars for beginners.

The best places to stargaze

You might think you can see the stars from anywhere in the world – which you kinda can – but some places will give you more of the experience you’re after. Dark spots away from towns and cities are less likely to be affected by light pollution. That means you’ll get a clearer picture of the night sky and all the stars up there. Did you know there are 36 International Dark Sky Parks in America alone? These are parks that have been protected thanks to the incredible night skies they offer. Big Bend, the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree are just some of the many that will give you the best views all over the country.

When to go stargazing

Of course, if you want to take a look at the stars, you need to go at night. That goes without saying, right? Once you have picked your perfect location, you want to make sure you’ll get the most out of your visit. To do this, you want to choose a night when the moon is at its smallest. New or crescent moons are the best times of the month to go as the sky will be as dark as possible, giving the starts their own chance to shine. You can check the moon’s lunar calendar online to see which phase it will be in before your nighttime visit.

How to see the most of the stars

You want to make sure your site is as dark as possible. This means no flashlights or campfires to interrupt the night sky. Binoculars are also a great shout if you want to take a closer look at those balls of gas up in the sky. To top it off, you could even download a star app or invest in a star chart. Once you are familiar with your surroundings and get more used to seeing all those stars, you might even be able to pick out a few of the constellations or famous stars. You’ll be an astronomer in no time!

Stargazing 101: the constellations

If you have taken an interest in stargazing, perhaps you have heard of the Big Dipper? This is probably the most famous constellation as it can be seen pretty much every day of the year. Three stars in a line make up the “handle,” while four stars in a square make the “bowl” at the end. Once you have found the Big Dipper, it’s time to move onto the North Star, or Polaris as it’s officially known. To do this, you need to locate the end of the “bowl” of the Big Dipper and take your gaze up in a straight line. Once you reach the brightest star, you have yourself the North Star. Now, you should be able to locate all the other constellations with much more ease.

It can be incredible to realize how small we are on our ball of dirt and water after spending a night looking at the stars. Isn’t there something so peaceful about stargazing? Now, you can expand your mind and impress your friend after learning how to look at the stars. You’re welcome.