Stargazing is an activity that many people around the world do. It is often done in a very dark place, such as in a forest or on a mountain. This article proves that you can undertake stargazing in your garden. However, some safety precautions should always be taken before going stargazing. Stargazing can be dangerous if you don’t prepare properly and know what you’re doing.
Here is a list of all you need for a stargazing session in your garden:
Family and Friends
According to experts and individuals who have practiced stargazing for years, it is more fun when shared with friends. Consider introducing your close neighbors and family members to astronomy. Stargazing is a hobby that can reward both the viewer and those who experience their company. You can engage in this pastime alone or with friends and family. What’s more, it doesn’t require anything more than a clear view of the sky.
Find a spot with the least light pollution and enjoy the light of a crescent moon. And if you can find where the stars are easy to spot, all the better. If you can’t see anything but the sky, try finding darker patches within the forest or other areas that don’t have artificial light.
Due to light pollution, it’s challenging for people living in urban areas to use their backyards. Any extra light affects stargazers, causing an astronomical dilemma. Light pollution refers to misdirected and excessive outdoor lighting. Together with your group, you can find ways to reduce light pollution at night by joining the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and requesting information.
Achieve Dark Adaptation
Make yourself comfortable while using your naked eyes to adapt to the darkness. It is important to note that the more you gaze at the skies with your naked eyes, the more stars you will begin to see. This process is called “dark adaptation,” where the eyes can adjust to the environment and become more sensitive to smaller light sources. This process can take up to thirty minutes for you to reach maximum night vision.
Telescope, Eyepieces, and Accessories
One of the most popular ways to stargaze is to use a telescope. Telescopes are some of the best stargazing equipment, and they are relatively inexpensive. Telescopes can be used to see celestial bodies, not just stars. In addition, they can be used for bird watching or other wildlife observation.
A good telescope should have a large aperture to gather more light from the sky, which will make it easier for you to see objects in space. It would help if you also looked for a telescope with a long focal length and an equatorial mount. This will allow you to track celestial objects more efficiently and without hassle.
Did you know that your eyes take a while to adjust to darkness? This is because they’re using their rods instead of their cones. This means that they’re able to see a lot of detail in the dark, which is perfect for looking through a telescope. To keep your eyes dark-adapted and safe from short-term exposure to bright light, use a red flashlight.
A green laser pointer may assist you in pointing out items for everyone to notice if you are watching with a group. Keep in mind that laser pointers are subject to local regulations, so don’t shine the laser in the eyes of the person or animal you’re watching.
Smartphone App (Star Maps)
There are many ways to circumnavigate the night sky with the help of a star chart. You can use a paper map or a digital one from your phone. The paper star charts are relatively cheap and easy to find, but they require some assembly before you can use them. Smartphone apps offer many benefits that paper maps do not, such as giving you notifications about what is happening in the sky at any moment.
Common stargazing apps include:
- Stellarium Mobile Free
- Mobile Observatory Free
- Star Tracker
P.S. I recently learned that you can even name a star after yourself. So if you found an unnamed star, get your name up there (not quite literally, hehe). But still a pretty cool gift.
If you’re interested in exploring the night sky, then binoculars are essential for closer viewing. David M. recommends the Celestron SkyMaster 25–125×80 Zoom Binocular, perfect for astronomy beginners and amateurs alike. The lens features a wide field of view and can easily magnify objects up to 125x magnification.
You don’t have to be an expert in astronomy or astrophysics or even know the names of stars and constellations. With a little bit of preparation, some knowledge about what you’re looking at helping, and an interest in looking up at the sky, you can participate in this activity—and some people argue that it’s a form of meditation.