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How to Learn the Basics of Stargazing

Look up: no matter where you live, the mysteries of the universe are yours to explore. Add a few tools to your stargazing experience and your fascination with the skies will transform into a rewarding hobby.

Instructions

  • TIP: Travel to view eclipses, planetary alignments, and other noteworthy sky events.
  • Step 1: Attend a star party, often attended by hundreds of amateurs, to get tips and try new equipment.
  • Step 2: Invest in a quality telescope for better viewing, choosing one that has a steady mount, a large aperture size, and is portable. Armed with knowledge, tools, and a little help from your friends, you'll see your place in the cosmos in a whole new light.
  • FACT: 2009 was declared the International Year of Astronomy to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's contributions to humanity's understanding of the universe.
  • Step 3: Join a local astronomy club or an online discussion group to share your interest, learn more, and participate in group stargazing experiences.
  • Step 4: Keep a log of your observations to look back at later, adding personal notes which may increase meaning to your stargazing experience.
  • Step 5: Use charts and guides to plan a night expedition with foreknowledge of what the skies reveal to the naked eye in your area, window of time, and current season.
  • TIP: October night skies offer the best stargazing experiences due to the angle of the Earth's axis.
  • Step 6: Invest in binoculars when you are ready to take your hobby to the next level, choosing a lightweight model with large front lenses, and high optical quality.
  • Step 7: Learn the basics of astronomy by studying books, downloading sky charts from the internet, or purchasing maps and guides through organizations serving astronomers.

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