When we look at the night sky, we see stars and planets, the moon, and, if the night is clear enough, our own galaxy. To some people, all these celestial bodies are simply twinkling lights in the night sky. To others, though, they are the gateway to new worlds and the imagination. Stargazing doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby and you don’t even need a telescope to get started. Here are a few basics to help you start exploring the night sky.
1. Start out by recognizing celestial bodies with the naked eye in order to get your bearings. You can easily point out the moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Polaris, and the Big and Little Dippers. In the winter, the constellation Orion is very recognizable. Start out being able to recognize these bodies and then move into more complicated combinations, such as the constellations Virgo and Scorpio.
2. Go to your local library and check out a few books on basic astronomy. They will explain how to find additional constellations and other anomalies and how the stars change positions throughout the year. Start investigating the night sky with a monthly star map to help you point out the stars. In order to use these maps at night, cover the lens of a flashlight with red tissue paper. It will allow you to read the page without messing up your "night-" vision while looking at the night sky.
3. You do not need to run out and purchase an expensive telescope right away. Instead use a 7 to 10 power pair of binoculars to see more of the night sky until you become extremely familiar with the night sky. With a good star map and guidebook, you’ll be able to even see things such as star clusters, nebulae, and other interesting things, like the positions of Jupiter’s moons.
4. Keep a diary of what you see, when you see it, what the weather was like, and what you used to see the celestial body. It will give you more meaning as you delve further into your stargazing.
5. Look into joining an amateur astronomy club so that you can share your interests with other people who love looking into the night sky. You will be able to learn from more experienced stargazers and maybe even help some new star gazers get started in learning what the night sky has to offer.
6. You can also check out this site: Astronomy Picture of the Day. On this site you will find a new photo every day along with small description of the photo.
7. Above all else have fun with it!