Learning about the Universe or what’s beyond our atmosphere is an exciting field of study. This guide will introduce you to the top 5 steps to get started with astronomy and related explorations.
Step 1: Visiting your local Planetarium.
- Most Planetarium host shows about the night sky, which will give you an excellent overview of what’s up there in Sky.
Step 2: Learn to use a Sky Map.
A planisphere is a simple analog star chart instrument with two adjustable disks that rotate on a common pivot in astronomy. It can be adjusted to display the visible stars for any time and date. It assists in learning how to recognize stars and constellations.
Nowadays, we have Modern Skymaps tools available on Mobile phones and desktops. Very easy to use. You can use these tools should for navigating the Sky and finding celestial objects quickly.
Below a few tools to use :
Planetariums: Stellarium (free desktop software)
Apps for iPhone: Sky Map (free)
Apps for Android: Google Sky Map (free)
Step 3: Find North Star using the Big Dipper
North star, also called a Polaris, is key to Navigate the sky correctly. Finding Polaris is really easy, you just need a compass and should know how to find the pattern of big and little dipper constellations.
- Use your Magnetic compass device or compass app on your Phone to find the Magnetic North.
- On the Northern side looks above the sky and you should see the dipper constellation.
- As shown in the diagram below, use the Big dipper (Ursa Major) and Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) constellation to find the North Star.
Step 4: Learn to find Key Constellation patterns.
A constellation is a cluster of stars that form a visual pattern when viewed from Earth. The pattern they form was identified with a name or form known to humans. For example, people have named constellation patterns based on mythological creatures, animals, men, and women.
These patterns are basically a shortcut to remember various celestial objects and their location in the sky. In the previous step, we used the URSA constellation to identify Polaris. similarly learning and remembering various constellation patterns will be helpful to grow as an amateur astronomer.
Step 5: Understand Lunar patterns.
Moon is the closest celestial object clearly visible in the sky. Understanding Lunar Patterns is very important. Moon is very bright and could impair your ability to view the night sky clearly. Understanding the position of the Moon in the sky will help you to identify the right date and time period for stargazing.
If you are planning to stargaze deep and faint stars or less bright planets, it is advisable to plan during no moon Night. As the bright light from the moon could temporarily block your eye ability to see in the dark.
For the same reason when you plan a stargazing Night don’t use any bright white light or other light sources near you. Instead, Use low-energy red flashlights to minimize loss of our night vision so we can more easily see the detail of the universe.
Finding Brighter Planets and stars using Naked eyes.
Once you master steps 1 to 5, Now you are ready to rock as an amateur astronomer. Use your Mobile sky map apps to locate various planets like Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus. View them using your Naked eye and enjoy.
Once you train yourself to observe various planets and stars just with naked eyes with the support of start map tools now you can progress to the next steps to use Binoculars for stargazing.
Additional Reads – How to Spot planets and Starts in the Sky