The moment you hear about stargazing, your mind starts to wonder to the latest telescope you saw when you were browsing for astronomy gadgets on the entire. Your heart yearns to know what lies above you, yet the price tag on the model you just looked at is way too much for your budget.
As an astronomy enthusiast, you should know that it’s not always about what kind of device you use for watching the night sky. Many tips and tricks can help you, even if you are a beginner, to make the best of what you might have at your disposal.
Learn everything you can about astronomy from public sources
No one was born an astronomer, and you don’t necessarily have to study hard to be one. The most beautiful thing about astronomy is that you can learn about it from many different sources.
You can always scout the World Wide Web for information, but, if you don’t mind a visit to the public library in your area, you will discover there plenty of data you can use to cultivate your desire to know about celestial bodies.
Binoculars are a good option, too
Of course, telescopes are the most indicated instruments for watching the night sky, as you can discover from this review, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a hobbyist astronomer if you don’t have one. A pair of binoculars can help you take a closer look at the celestial bodies above you, even if not with the same accuracy as a telescope.
For a beginner, that is a solution. Binoculars tend to be less expensive, and there are even models designed for stargazing. Finding the right ones shouldn’t be an issue, and the best part is that they are more portable than telescopes that tend to be heavy and usable, in most cases, only with a tripod or a stand.
Don’t let pollution get in the way
Most cities have a problem that causes astronomers to search for perfect spots to watch the night sky. The pollution caused by regular human activities creates an obstacle, but there is another type of pollution to consider.
Cities nowadays have street lights or other sources of illumination that prevents you from seeing the celestial bodies. To stay clear of the light pollution in the cities, it is recommended to get as high as you can and examine the sky from there. Be it that you find a tall building, or you can get out of the city and climb a hill or even a mountain, that’s essential for getting a clear view.
Chilly winter nights are the best for stargazing
A clear sky is pretty much a prerequisite for watching the night sky in perfect conditions. Most of the time, as we talked earlier, there is pollution to worry about, so here is another tip that will help you make the best out of your passion for astronomy.
Pick chilly winter nights for such activities. The air is void of humidity, unlike in other seasons, and the sky is crisp. Don’t forget to bring warm clothes so that you can spend as much time as you need to observe the celestial bodies you want to explore to your heart’s content.
Your smartphone is your friend
Back in the days, people who were passionate about astronomy had to learn the position of stars on the night sky, from sources such as maps and other printed materials. Now you don’t have to bring a stack of maps with you since you can just fire up your smartphone and download some cool apps that have such information readily available.
These apps can be quite handy. You will quickly find the stars you want to examine, and some even come with extra features, such as a red light, which will let your eyes adapt to the darkness around much more comfortable than white lights.
Start by observing the moon
While there is an entire universe to explore out there, if this is just your first times practicing astronomy, the best advice is to start with the moon. This natural Earth’s satellite plays a vital role in our lives, and that’s why it’s such a great idea to have it first on your list.
There are definite advantages to consider if you pick the moon as the first celestial body to explore. For starters, it is easy to observe. You don’t even need any equipment to stare at the moon. Of course, it would be ideal to have at least one pair of binoculars to notice details, but the fact that you have no equipment at all won’t stop you.
Also, the moon is visible even when there’s plenty of light pollution, something that can’t be said about other stars. Make sure that, at the same time, you learn about it, about its phases, what eclipses are, the relationship between the moon and tides, and so on. A fascinating world will open in front of you, and it’s a sure thing that you’ll get hooked on astronomy right away.
Write down your experiences
While this is not a requirement, it appears that beginners benefit most when they keep track of their activities. You only need a notebook and a pen, and you can start keeping a diary where you can list what you observed, with what type of equipment, and what the weather conditions were. You will find great satisfaction in looking back at your documented experiences.
When to buy a telescope
If you’re convinced that astronomy is something you see yourself doing many years from now, then you should consider purchasing a telescope. But, once you start looking for one, make sure that you don’t skimp on quality.
Your telescope should have a solid mount that works smoothly, as well as high-quality optics. Anything else matters less, and these are the two essential aspects you should focus on. Another thing to remember is that, while a large aperture translates to better performance, you don’t want a telescope that becomes too bulky and heavy to move around.