Useful Tips for Viewing the Night Sky

constellations Feb 01, 2018

Whether you are a new stargazer or have been doing it for years, there are some basics tools you can use and tips to follow to help maximize your experience outside finding the stars.

Useful tools:

  1. Planisphere - This is also known as a Star Wheel. If you decide to purchase one, be sure it is for correct latitude as to where you live.
  2. Red light - It is never a good idea to go outside in the dark without any light, so instead use a red colored light to protect your night vision. White light is harsh on your eyes in the dark, but using a red light will help you to not shock your eyes.
  3. Binoculars or Telescope - These tools are certainly useful, and it depends how much you want to invest in equipment when stargazing. I feel binoculars are always good to start with, and if you start to enjoy this hobby, you can look into purchasing a telescope.

Helpful tips:

  1. It takes 30 minutes for your eyes to completely adjust to the dark, so be sure to carve enough time out of your evening to give yourself the best chance to see stars and deep sky objects
  2. Get comfortable. This may be obvious, but you would be surprised! Many of my students always complain that their neck hurts if they stargaze too long. So I tell them to find a way to lay down. If you live in a cool climate, winter can be a challenge to stargaze.  Just be prepared for any adventure you decide to take!
  3. Use a field guide. There are many online planetariums you can use (my favorite being, but I am old school in the sense that I love to use books as reference. Just keep in mind that the star distances could be out of date, as scientists are always refining their knowledge of the sky as technology gets better.