Stargazing for beginners

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Stargazing for beginners

We are always looking for activities that people can do in their own homes to relieve some of the boredom and allow people to experience new activities and you never know may become a new hobby!

So if you haven’t tried stargazing yet, why not give it a go!

Stargazing for beginners can seem complicated, but all you need is a pair of binoculars, your smartphone and a dark location near you.

You can actually see many wonders of the night with your naked eye, but you will need to allow 15 minutes or so to adjust properly to the darkness. Ideally though, start by buying a pair of decent binoculars for about £20.

Your smartphone is one of your best stargazing friends – download either the Night Sky app or Sky Map, set your phone to night vision and simply point your phone at the sky. It will show you the constellations you’re looking at by identifying the stars using an inbuilt GPS.

If you don’t have a smartphone then get yourself a star chart. They do the job perfectly well, simply set the date and time to show what is in the night star.

The Earth is constantly rotating on its axis, but the stars are fixed, so the night sky changes from night to night and season to season.

Start by using your app or star chart to identify Polaris, the Pole Star, which is always due north. Once you’ve found this star, you can slowly work out the other constellations. Constellations are groups of stars that have been named based on the shapes they suggest, most are from Greek mythology.

Your first five constellations to spot:

  1. Orion (the hunter), with belt and sword, is one of the most famous constellations and one of the few that genuinely bears a resemblance to its namesake.
  2. Leo (the lion), is one of the easiest constellations to spot – although it looks absolutely nothing like a lion!
  3. Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) is visible all year in the northern hemisphere. It looks like a cup with a long handle.
  4. Cassiopeia (the queen of Aethiopia) is named after a vain queen who boasted about her unrivalled beauty. Looks like a giant ‘W’ shape.
  5. Hydra (the water snake) is the largest and longest constellation in the night sky. It looks like a sea serpent.

Have fun!

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