Make Stargazing More Than ‘Just A Hobby’
‘Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars…’
Do the lyrics of this Frank Sinatra song tug on some strings inside you? Not that mushy feeling that most people associate with the song, but the actual yearning to ‘see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars’? Heed that feeling because it’s a tug from the universe. As they say, there’s nothing more compelling than a cosmic connection.
The universal fascination for the sky runs deep and has manifested itself throughout history in many forms. How else do you justify famous art, pop culture, poetry, philosophy, and so much more inspired by the universe and space? Whether it is for the beauty, the complexity, or the curiosity to know all about it; the sky has all kinds of audiences. There’s so much to learn, to see, and yet to be discovered that it’s an endless pursuit once you go down that rabbit hole. Thankfully, space will not run out of things to show us anytime soon.
Before you go running outside to stare at the sky, let’s cover some basics. Read on to learn a few tips that will help you go on an Astro-tour from the comfort of Earth.
The Vantage Point
The first and perhaps the most important tip is to pick the right spot. Technically, it is possible to stargaze from basically anywhere, even from your balcony, window, or terrace. The only thing that you need to know is the Bortle Class of your location.
What is a Bortle Class?
A Bortle scale, between 1 and 9, defines the darkness of the sky. The darkest skies fall under class 1 and the innermost city skies fall under class 9. Based on this, you will be able to determine which sky objects you might be able to spot from there and also the right equipment and techniques for observation.
While we’re on the subject, here’s a tidbit for you. The creator of the Bortle Scale, John E. Bortle, was an American amateur astronomer. Due to his keen interest in variable stars, he was able to record over 200,000 observations in his time.
If all this sounds intimidating to learn, take a breath because many apps and software can help you figure out the Bortle Class of your location. However, if you want credible information and the correct way to learn some of these basic skills, give Starscapes a shot. We not only teach you the best way to observe the sky but also help you set up your backyard observatory.
Next, Get Oriented
As important as it is to know the right spot and its Bortle Class, you also need to get your directions right. It can get disorienting and difficult to navigate without knowing which side is North. Getting oriented at your preferred vantage point will help you navigate and measure sky positions better.
What are sky positions?
Sky positions help us locate celestial bodies and are measured in degrees. A good starting point for understanding sky positions is to know that 0 degrees refers to the horizon and 90 degrees is directly above it. It takes a lot of practice and patience to correctly map out the sky.
If you’re unsure of how to put theory to practice, contact us and we’ll help you learn all this and a lot more.
How far can your eyes see?
It’s common for people to stargaze with their eyes only, specially seasoned skywatchers. However, there’s only this much your bare eyes can do. That’s why it is key to pick the right equipment. Several factors will help you decide if something can be seen with naked eyes, a pair of binoculars, or if you need to bring in the big gun – a telescope.
These are just a few tips to get started, however, expert cosmophiles have a lot more information, expert know-how, and an arsenal of resources at their disposal. If you want to skip ahead and go from hobbyist to expert in no time, reach out to us and we’ll help you get there. At Starscapes, we’ve seen so many people walking out of our observatories as budding Cosmophiles.
Try these tips at home and get ready to stargaze in the truest sense of the word. It’s never too late or too early to satisfy your curiosity about space.
Starscapes is the first chain of astronomy observatories in India. Our mission is to promote Astro-Tourism in the country and provide more avenues for amateur astronomers. Come, visit us in Kausani, Bhimtal, Jaipur, Coorg, and Ooty and study the sky and constellations with our astronomy tours and world-class telescopes. You can also learn about advances in astrophysics and space exploration through our workshops and online discussions with experts. That’s not all. One of our exciting offerings is astrophotography sessions that help you see the universe differently through your camera lens.
There’s something more to experience every time you visit us.