Star gazing and telescopes
Star gazing with or without a telescope is an intersting hobby and past time.
The night skies have been a mystery to man for centuries. Although nowadays we now have a clearer knowledge of the night skies and some of the things that they hold, there are still unseen mysteries in the dark heavens above us.
Star gazing is a simple, but fun and very interesting pastime for many amateur as well as some experienced star gazers. Even amateurs can find many stars, planets, shooting stars, meteor showers, and constellations with the naked eye on their own. A planisphere is a useful guide for locating constellations. A planisphere is a circular, paper map which shows the sky at various hours of the day and night, thus showing you the approximate location of some of the many constellations. You simply hold the planisphere up and align it with the time and the date. The constellations and the stars appear on a schedule, and using a planisphere helps us to know that timing.
Some of the most popular constellations that can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere are the Big Dipper, which is also known as Ursa Major, and can be seen year around, and the Little Dipper, which is also known as Ursa Minor. The North Star is also a popular and easily found sight in the night skies. It is actually located directly above the North Pole.
To get the best possible view of the night skies, you should choose a clear, cloudless night. Take a blanket or a small cot, if you prefer, so that you can lie comfortably on your back. Also take along a flashlight which has a red bulb, or you can use a flashlight with a clear bulb as long as it is covered with red cellophane paper. Our eyes adjust easier to a red light than they do to a clear, bright light.
If you have to drive somewhere to get away from the city lights, when you reach your destination, be sure to shut off the headlights of your vehicle as well as the dome light for maximum viewing enjoyment. If you are out camping and decide to do some star gazing, be sure to pick a spot that is far enough away from the campfire so that its light will not interfere with your night vision.
You can, of course, see more in the night skies if you use a telescope to do your viewing with. Most store-bought telescopes will do the trick, or, if you are really interested in astronomy, you can make your own telescope. Before you start such an in-depth undertaking, you must realize that you will need to purchase many materials in order to construct your viewing device. These items may include wood, special mirrors, telescopic tubing, eyepiece, supports, black paint, and various fasteners, just to mention a few. You would also need to find a good blueprint from which you would make your telescope from.
Telescopes work by gathering light, and by magnification. With a small telescope, you can inspect the surface of the moon and find craters as well as mountains on its surface. Larger, high-powered telescopes are better for viewing the planets and some other night sights.