Astronomy and telescopes are great fun! We’re always out under the night sky checking out what stars, planets and galaxies are up to see.
We’ve had lots of practice and have learnt so many things along the way. Just like you will too!
Some of what we’ve learnt isn’t normally shared with people new to the hobby of astronomy, so we thought we’d let you in on a few of our secrets and give you a few tips that we think are a terrific addition to our astronomy toolkit.
You will find these a useful addition to your own astronomy toolkit too, no matter if your telescope is big or small.
Here’s what we have in our astronomy toolkit:
A Red Light Torch
Turning off lights is important. That’s so you can see the stars better. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. After that you have your night time vision. You’ll be surprised at how much you can see once you have your night time vision.
White light destroys not only our view of the stars but also your night time vision! If you need to use a light whilst stargazing, a red coloured light is the best. Red light doesn’t interfere with night time vision and stargazing.
A red light torch is a very handy item to have in your astronomy toolkit. There are hand held versions and ones that fit over your head to keep your hands free as you’re operating your telescope.
A pair of binoculars is a great way to start an astronomy hobby. It’s amazing how much you can see just by using binoculars. You’ll find yourself wandering amongst the stars of the Milky Way.
What’s great about having a pair of binoculars in your astronomy toolkit, is that when you’re looking around up there, you will probably find an object that you want to take a closer look at through your telescope!
A Good Finder Scope
A good finder scope is worth its weight in gold!
The finder scope is the smaller piece of equipment (a mini telescope or sighting device) that sits on the side of your telescope tube and points parallel with it. You use the finder scope to locate an object in the night sky before you look at it through the eyepiece.
If you’re having trouble lining up your finder scope with your telescope tube or can’t seem to get a good view through the finder scope, it will lead to a lot of frustration. The better the finder scope you have, the easier it is to use your telescope. Believe us, it makes a huge difference!
An App to Find Out What’s Up in the Night Sky
There’s an app for that!
Our personal favourite is SkySafari. It’s not free like some apps are, but it’s a very good one and the basic entry version has plenty of information to get you started in understanding what’s up in the night sky.
These apps use GPS to locate where you are. Then they use the date and time to give you a map of what’s up in the night sky. You can often turn on the compass and as you move your screen across the sky, the app will tell you what you’re looking at.
There are other apps for astronomy related work. Check out our top 7 astronomy apps to have on your phone.
A Big Garbage Bag!
This handy inclusion is not rubbish at all! This is ideal for those nights where it might rain. It takes time to set up a telescope and rather than pack it all away during a light patch of rain, it’s easy to throw a strong and big garbage bag over your telescope so that it doesn’t get wet.
Of course, you don’t want to leave a telescope set up in continuous rain. A garbage bag just helps on those odd occasions when there’s a light shower. It means you don’t have to set up all over again and saves you a whole lot of time. It also means you’ll be taking advantage of breaks in cloudy weather as they appear.
The Annual Astronomy Australia Almanac
This is our all-time favourite book. Every year the great team at Quasar Publishing produce the annual Astronomy Australia almanac. It has everything you need to know about what’s happening in the night sky for the year.
From what’s up in the night sky to meteor showers, eclipses, star charts, lots of topical astronomy information and the rising and setting times for the Sun and Moon. This book has all you need to know. It’s a very popular item purchased at all our stargazing events throughout the year.
What’s great about this book, is that you can plan your stargazing adventures. Apps are great at telling you what’s up now, but the team behind Astronomy Australia give you a diary, months in advance so you can really plan what you’d like to see.
Satellite Tracking App
When something moves up in the night sky, it can be quite spectacular. There’s the International Space Station (ISS), Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and more recently the controversial Starlink Satellites.
A handy addition to your astronomy toolkit is a smart phone app that gives you predicted times that any of the bright satellites are going to cruise by overhead.
If you know in advance, you’ll impress your friends by pointing them out at parties and BBQ’s all year round!
Get More out of Your Telescope!
Stargazers Club WA is especially for beginners! Join a class and you’ll soon have the stars at your fingertips. Non-members welcome.
We look forward to welcoming you to our friendly community of Stargazers & Astronomy Lovers where we thrive on making learning about the galaxy easy & fun!