Stargazing Tips


Lots of ideas for making the most of a starry summer evening

Summer is the perfect time to get away from it all, spread a blanket, and enjoy a celestial light show.  Here are some stargazing tips to help you make the most of your evening under the stars.

Pick a Clear Moonless Night — You will see the most stars on a night when the moon is new and the skies are clear. If your viewing plans do happen to get blocked by clouds, you can always claim to have witnessed a “rare eclipse of everything!”

** A great time to star watch in the summer is from the last week of July through the first week in August, when “the Perseids” appears. This is the most reliable summertime meteor shower. The most meteors are visible after midnight during this time.

Get Back to Nature — Try to get as far away from city light pollution as possible. An open area far from buildings is the best spot for stargazing.

Relax in Reclining Chairs or Lie on a Blanket — You want to be comfortable when settling in for an evening under the stars, so be sure to have a set up where your neck won’t get tired while looking up.

Adjust Your Eyes — It takes 30-40 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Experienced astronomers often bring a red torch which can be used as a flashlight and not interfere with night vision. You can make your own torch by covering the lense of a flashlight with red painters’ tape.  While you are waiting for your eyes to adjust, have fun playing a satellite-spotting contest. Scan the sky for what appear to be fast-moving stars. See who can spot the most!

Come Prepared — Other than a blanket, there are some items which can make your evening of stargazing more fun, such as:

  • Binoculars — A must for getting a better view of things.
  • A Planisphere — These simple plastic charts can help you easily identify what you are seeing.
  • Star Identifying Phone Apps — Android offers a free app called Sky Map, and iPhone has both Star Walk and Sky Map. To use these, you just hold your phone to the night sky and they will identify celestial objects for you!

Thumbs and first fingers inside the four corners of Star Finder.Have Some Fun Making Your Own Star Finder — Remember the folding fortune tellers everyone made as kids?  Here is a link to a Star Finder Game from NASA.

Play Some Mood Music — Add some atmosphere to your evening with some great stargazing music. The synthesizer music of Vangelismakes a great accompaniment to a night under the stars.


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