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Stargazing

as a hobby

No sight is more provocative of awe than is the night sky.

Llewelyn Powys

Stargazing is a hobby that lets you explore the wonders of the night sky with your own eyes. You can see planets, stars, constellations, and even galaxies from your backyard or a dark location. Stargazing can relax you, inspire you, and teach you about astronomy and science. To get started, all you need is a clear night, a star map or an app, and optionally binoculars or a telescope.

Helpful content to start stargazing as a hobby

We aim to provide accurate information, but errors might be found. Always exercise judgment and discretion.

Videos

Short visual inspiration.

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YouTube | Introduction to Astronomy: Crash Course Astronomy #1
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YouTube | Naked Eye Observations: Crash Course Astronomy #2
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YouTube | Astronomy for beginners: 5 simple tips
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YouTube | Astronomy for Beginners – Getting Started Stargazing!

Podcasts

Play an episode while exploring the page.

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Spotify | Beginner Astronomy: Where to Go and What to Bring
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Spotify | Landscape Astrophotography for Beginners
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Spotify | Stargazers: Dr. Melanie Windridge

Stargazing can inspire you to learn more about astronomy, physics, math and other sciences.

Terms

Basic lingo for orientation.

  • Asterism: Any prominent star pattern that isn’t a whole constellation, such as the Northern Cross or the Big Dipper.
  • Asteroid: A solid body orbiting the Sun that consists of metal and rock.
  • Celestial Coordinates: A grid system for locating things in the sky. It’s anchored to the celestial poles (directly above Earth’s north and south poles) and the celestial equator (directly above Earth’s equator).
  • Collimation: Aligning the optical elements of a telescope so that they all point in the proper direction.
  • Comet: A small body of ice and dust that orbits the Sun. When a comet approaches the Sun, some of its material vaporizes, forming a coma and a tail that point away from the Sun due to the solar wind.
  • Constellation: A group of stars that form a recognizable pattern in the sky. There are 88 official constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union.
  • Eclipse: An event in which one celestial body passes into the shadow of another, or blocks the light from another.
  • Light Year: A unit of distance and is defined as the distance traveled by light in a vacuum during a Julian year. In astronomy, a Julian year (symbol: a) is a time unit defined as exactly 365.25 days of 86,400 seconds each.
  • Galaxy: A large collection of stars, gas, dust, and dark matter held together by gravity. There are billions of galaxies in the observable universe, each containing millions to trillions of stars.
  • Star party: A gathering of amateur astronomers for the purpose of observing objects and events in the sky.

How to start stargazing as a hobby

First moves for getting acquainted and breaking the ice.

Books

Get read(y).

How-tos

Step-by-step tutorials.

Adding Phases of the Moon to Your Google Calendar: A Step-by-Step Guide for Better Stargazing

The moon’s phase affects the brightness of the night sky and your stargazing experience. By adding the phases of the moon to your calendar, you can plan your stargazing sessions for the darkest nights. Here are the steps to add Phases of the Moon to your Google Calendar:

  1. Open Google Calendar and browse calendars of interest

    Open Google Calendar on your web browser. On the left sidebar, click on the plus icon next to Other calendars and select Browse calendars of interest from the drop-down menu.Google Calendar - Add other calendars

  2. Check Phases of the Moon under Other

    Scroll to the bottom of the page. Under Other, check the box for Phases of the Moon. Once done, click the Go back arrow.Google Calendar - Enable Phases of the Moon calendar under Other

  3. Make sure the Phases of the Moon calendar is displayed

    To view the Phases of the Moon calendar, make sure it is checked under Other calendars. You can also change the color of the calendar by clicking on the three dots icon next to it and selecting a color.Google Calendar - Display Phases of the Moon calendar

  4. Verify moon phase events are showing

    Search for the next moon phase event. You might need to scroll a bit to the future.Google Calendar - Phase of the moon event

Articles

Further reading.

Websites

Go-tos for information.

When life gets too overwhelming, just look up at the night sky and lose yourself for a while.

Deborah Ten Brink

Movies

Nothing like a film for inspiration.

FAQS

Get a clue.

When is the best time to stargaze?

The best time to stargaze is when the sky is clear, dark, and moonless. You can add the phases of the moon to your calendar as a reminder and to help you plan your stargazing. You can also check the astronomical events calendar to find out when there are interesting phenomena such as eclipses, conjunctions, transits, etc.

Where is the best place to stargaze?

The best place to stargaze is a dark and clear location with a wide view of the horizon. You can use a dark sky map to find such a place and check the moon’s phases, weather, and events. You can also join a local astronomy club or society that may have star parties or events in dark-sky places.

What equipment do I need to stargaze?

You don’t need any equipment to stargaze, just your eyes and curiosity. However, you can enhance your experience with some basic tools such as binoculars and a red torch, and a stargazing app. If you want to see more details you can invest in a telescope.

How do I find constellations and planets in the sky?

You can use a stargazing app to identify the constellations and planets in the sky. You can also use some landmarks such as the North Star, the Big Dipper, or Orion to orient yourself in the sky.

Apps

Smart assistance.

Products

Essentials to have.

Courses

Get smart.

Near You

Get together.

Stargazing can make you travel back in time by seeing the light from distant stars and galaxies that left them millions or even billions of years ago. For example, when you look at the Andromeda Galaxy, you are seeing it as it was 2.5 million years ago, when our ancestors were Australopithecus. This is because light has a finite speed and takes time to reach us from far away.

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Tips

Additional advice for beginners.