A few basic items can give you a much more rewarding experience under the night sky
The first thing you should get is something called a planisphere. It is a rotating disc that will show you the exact locations of stars and constellations in the night sky. A planisphere is very easy to use and I have a tutorial on how to use this planisphere on my youtube channel right here. This is my favorite one for several reasons. First off it is very large (16 inches) which makes it comfortable to use and easy to read. Second it has lots of interesting deep space objects located right on it.
A red flashlight is very important for stargazing. Turning on regular white lights or a white flashlight will ruin your night vision. Your pupils will contract and it will take a half an hour for them to dilate again. You will see less of the dim objects in the night sky. Red light has significantly less impact on your night vision. My favorite red flashlight is made by the famous telescope company Celestron. This one has an adjustable red light so you can dim or brighten it as you need.
Celestron Red Flashlight for stargazing and astronomy
Celestron SkyMaster Binoculars.
- Multi-coated optics
- Large aperture perfect for low light conditions and stargazing
- Tripod adapter. 13 mm (0.51 inch) long eye relief ideal for eyeglass wearers
- Diopter adjustment for fine focusing. Angular field of view 4.4 degrees
- Large 70 mm objective lens offers maximum image brightness in low-light and long-range conditions
Looking for a great beginners book?
Writing this book has been a wonderful experience for me. I truly love telescopes and astronomy. Well…. you probably could have figured that out seeing as I have a website all about these things! But this book is quite wonderful and I am very proud of it. If you have a small telescope or are thinking about getting one then check it out. In it I have chapters on using a small telescopes, stars, planets, how to take pictures with your telescope and of course a list with star charts of 101 objects to you can observe.
Free one page handout for teachers and astronomy clubs: Eleven tips for Stargazing Beginners (pdf)
This is a nice little single page handout that you are free to print up and hand out to students or astronomy clubs. It shows eleven easy tips for how to better enjoy the night sky.
There are lots of free apps that are very useful for stargazing. Here is a list of some of them:
- Star Chart app – (android) – A terrific free app with 30 million users. You can now have a virtual planetarium in your pocket! Look through the eyes of your Android device to see a virtual window into the whole visible universe.
All you have to do is point your Android deviceº at the sky and Star Chart will tell you exactly what you are looking at.
Using state of the art GPS technology, an accurate 3D universe, and all of the latest high tech functionality, Star Chart calculates – in real time – the current location of every star and planet visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are; even in broad daylight!
- Night Sky Lite – (iPhone, iPad, AppleTV) This planetarium in your pocket makes it easy to discover the wonders of space wherever you go. Day or night, just aim your device skyward to see a live 3D map of the heavens, complete with beautifully illustrated constellations, stars, planets, and satellites. A special night mode helps you read the map in the dark, while integrated weather reports show the best times for stargazing. You can even have notifications alert you to future astronomical events.
- Google Sky Map – (Android) Sky Map is a hand-held planetarium for your Android device. Use it to identify stars, planets, nebulae and more.
Originally developed as Google Sky Map, it has now been donated and open sourced.
- GoSky Watch Planetarium – ( iPad) Easily and quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more by simply pointing to the sky. Your personal telescope to the wonders in the night sky. Go outside and explore the night sky.
Need a Presentation for your classroom or astronomy club?
You can freely download and use my presentation video: (Easy Astronomy: Tips on how to enjoy the night sky. For Beginners) It is a quick download, 63 Meg WMV file that will play on all media players. This presentation video is about 14 minutes in length.