Every year as we move into Spring the warmer weather and clearer skies inspire people everywhere to rediscover the attraction of the stars. This year, with so many of us staying home we are fielding more and more questions from first time stargazers wanting to know how they can get started as casual astronomers from their own backyard. (Astronomy is a great academic enrichment for distance learning!)
Fortunately, there are quite a few very interesting things that can be seen from most backyards and balconies with simple equipment and even the naked eye. As you have read here before, we feel the the best “First Telescope” is a pair of binoculars but, unless you have a special tripod mount, 70+ mm Astronomy Binoculars are just too heavy and unwieldy, are really aren’t necessary. Yes, the birdwatching binoculars or child’s telescope you may have buried in a closet are actually quite capable if you know what to look for, and where to look for it!
To find interesting things to observe, it is important to have an atlas that is appropriate for your equipment and experience level. On the Internet and in smartphone apps you can find articles and lists of some really fascinating objects, but many of them are very faint and beyond the reach of simple equipment, which only leads to frustration for first-timers. Our Sky Atlas™ is an example of a perfect solution. With easy to follow descriptions of where to look you can be finding Galaxies, Nebulae, Open and Globular Clusters, famous Messier Objects, and even Supernova Remnants from your own backyard the first night out.
One of the most enjoyable activities for beginners is simply to learn what constellations are up above you when you go outside. You can use a smartphone app, but there are big limitations with those. (See our post on the subject HERE.) If you use a planisphere like The Night Sky™ you will not only be able to identify individual constellations, but you will intuitively start to learn the other stars and constellations in the neighborhood. Take a blanket, a thermos of warm cider, and a lounge chair and just enjoy a few hours of watching the night sky roll past, your planisphere will show you what is rising, what is setting, and what is right overhead all night long.
During Spring 2020 take 10% off at checkout at the Davidchandler.com Store by using promo code “Spring2020”