Stargazing is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the night sky. While dark sky areas will give you the best views, getting to know the sky right above my home brings me a sense of wonder and awe right on my doorstep.
You can go stargazing in your garden or, if you don't have a garden or it just feels too cold, from an open window.
Here are 5 tips to get you started.
1. Switch off the lights indoors and outdoors
Light pollution is a huge problem for stargazing. Make your stargazing area as dark as possible by switching off lights inside and out. If you don't feel safe doing this, tape some red plastic film over your outside lights as red light doesn't interfere with your eyes' ability to adjust to darkness as much as bright white light.
2. Use binoculars - any will do!
Binoculars help you see many more stars that you wouldn't otherwise notice with the naked eye. Don't get too hung up on which binoculars to use. Find some and give it a go!
3. Stay out for at least 20-30 minutes
It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the dark. After about 20-30 minutes your eyes will have activated the rod sensors that help you see better in the dark. Gaze at the sky during this time and notice more and more stars appearing as your eyes adjust.
4. Use an app to get started, then figure it out yourself
Apps like Stellarium or Night Sky are great for getting started. Once you feel confident identifying one constellation or star try identifying it without using the app (you can check it afterwards if you're not sure). Figuring it out yourself makes it more rewarding and more likely you'll remember the constellation.
5. Don't just look up names, get to know the stories of the stars
Just like friendships, names are a great way to get started. Make the effort to get to know the stories of the stars layers your experience with meaning and wonder.