Stargazing is a wonderful experience and Western Australia is blessed with one of the darkest night skies in the world, so why wouldn’t you get out there and explore the cosmos?!
You don’t need the latest and greatest equipment. Just keep your telescope kit simple and affordable and start planning your next adventure out under the stars.
Start with a Dark Sky
The most important thing to guarantee a super easy and spectacular night of stargazing, is to find a location as dark as possible. This ensures a clear sky, full of stars. When you can see all the stars of the constellations, it makes it so much easier to find what you are looking for. Where should I go?
Planisphere or Astronomy App
In this world of technical devices and gadgetry, it makes sense to utilise the gizmos designed to make stargazing fun and easy. Whiz-bang phone apps are excellent with loads of great information, but if you are way out with no phone reception, the good old planisphere will do the trick and help you quickly become familiar with the night sky. What app is best for me?
Easy to Use Telescope
If your telescope is difficult to use, it will end up collecting dust in a cupboard and your forays out into the universe will quickly end. Particularly for beginners, a telescope that is not too big and heavy, has a good sturdy tripod and a reasonable sized aperture, is the go. Computerised telescopes can be problematic for beginners so this is not essential. With an easy to use scope, you can be quickly set up and viewing the world above Tell me some easy instructions to use it too, please!
Red Light Torch
While out under a dark sky, your eyes become used to the darkness. This is called your night-time vision! If you need light, use a piece of red cellophane to cover a torch. Red light doesn’t affect your night-time vision. But always take a normal torch for packing up. You don’t want to leave anything behind.
Binoculars, an Easy Alternative
Binoculars are great to add to your stargazing kit as they are simple to use and provide a different perspective of the night sky. Especially good to look at larger objects such as star clusters as they provide a wider field of view.
Two Good Eyepieces
Generally, your telescope will come with a basic set of eyepieces, however a good quality low magnification and high magnification eyepieces are a great start to add to your tool kit. A good set of eye pieces will greatly enhance the detail and clarity of planets, galaxies and more.
For easy navigation around the sky, a finder scope is an essential must-have in your stargazing tool kit. Telescopes often come with a basic finder scope, however it is worth purchasing a Telrad or a red dot finder as this upgrade will change your night from challenging to illuminating.
With the weather getting colder, a dew shield is a simple but effective way of keeping your scope from fogging up. It can be very frustrating after getting all set up, only to find objects becoming dim and hazy. A dew shield keeps you out under the stars, well into the night. How to make your own dew shield
Warm Clothes, Hat, Scarf and Gloves
Summer stargazing is a lovely time to be out under the stars however winter is even better. Winter rains help to clear the air of dust and cold air holds less moisture, allowing for crystal clear viewing conditions. But make sure you rug up well. You want to be comfortable while stellar exploring.
And Finally, Take a Hot Drink
Packing a thermos of hot coffee, tea or whatever takes your fancy will top off a brilliant night under the stars. There’s nothing better than sipping on a warming beverage, while taking in the majesty of WA’s mesmerising night sky. And you can’t go past a Milky Way chocolate bar! Or maybe a Mars…
Ready to learn how to use your telescope?
Get that telescope out of the closet and learn how to get the most out of it at our BYO Telescope classes!