Do you Have a Dark Spot for Stargazing?
Your own back yard might do just fine for stargazing. But you might want to escape from city lights into the darkness of rural areas. Do you have a relative or friend who lives in the countryside? Maybe you live near a park or better yet, a state park. The best stargazing areas are in remote areas, far from the lights of cities.
Fortunately, due to new energy-conserving directed lighting, many towns and cities are gaining a new darkness for their nighttime skies. Your local amateur astronomers group may be able to recommend good sites in your area for stargazing.
Stargazing is a wonderful hobby and you can begin at any age. It is delightful to be able to identify constellations. They become like old friends as you find them in the sky from time to time. I have a set of worksheets, one for each season, which can help you locate constellations. On each worksheet is a hint for finding the first constellation, and from there you can locate the remaining 4 constellations on each sheet. You can download the worksheets here.
Remember that it takes about 10-20 minutes for your eyes to completely adjust to darkness so when you’ve found your dark spot, give yourself some time. If you want to look at your sky map or star wheel or write in a notebook, put some red paper or cellophane over your flashlight as this helps to preserve your dark vision.
Get your supplies ready for the next clear, dark night. You can download Uncle Al’s Starwheel for free here. Consider getting a notebook to keep track of what you see.