Whether you’re a stargazing novice or a seasoned watcher of the stars, there are a number of handy tips to make sure you get the best view of the constellations.
1. Lights out
Aside from adverse weather conditions, light pollution can be one of the biggest obstacles preventing your enjoyment of stargazing. Rural areas are the best locations to get away from the lights and if you can head for a hill, you’ll get an even better view of the horizon. The UK has over a third of the world’s dark sky reserves; take a look for the clearest view of the heavens.
2. Get comfy
You may be gazing at the stars for a while, so make sure you are doing so in comfort. Bring comfortable chairs to sit on and make sure you wrap up warm. A torch is also essential – especially if you’re stargazing in a rural location. A red filter on your torch will allow you to see without affecting your ability to gaze at the stars.
3. Maps to the stars
Bring a star chart for identifying the constellations. There are many star charts available to download free from the web, and there are few better ways to help you recognise and remember the placement of the stars.
4. Seeing clearly
You may think you need an expensive telescope but binoculars are not only cheaper on the whole, they can also be better suited to the task – especially if light pollution is an issue. A decent pair of binoculars are relatively inexpensive and far easier to maneouver than a telescope.
5. Get smart
There are plenty of smartphone apps that can turn anyone into an expert astronomer. Star Chart, Sky Map and Night Sky are all great apps for smartphones All you have to do is download the app, point your smartphone or tablet at the night sky and let them identify the stars, planets and constellations for you.