The Universe is a mind-bogglingly incredible thing, and people have been gazing up in wonder at the stars throughout all of human history. Developments in modern technology have enabled astronomists to see more of the cosmos than ever before. There are so many different pieces of equipment that can help stargazers to get up close and personal with all the wonders in the sky. Here are the perfect tools for budding astronomers that will enable you to explore the vastness of the universe.
1. A Planisphere
The first tool you should think about investing in when it comes to viewing the night sky is a planisphere or “star wheel”. What’s useful is that planispheres not only show you the northern sky, but also the southern sky. You can see what the southern sky looks like simply by flipping over the planisphere and looking on the back. Planispheres also come with easy to follow directions of how they should be used. When you order a planisphere, just make sure that you order the proper latitudes of where you are viewing from. If for example, you live in Hawaii where your location latitude wise is 20 degrees north, you need to buy a planisphere that functions at that latitude.
2. A telescope
A telescope is one of the most important purchases when you want to take your astronomy to the next level. When you decide to buy a telescope make sure you do your research as you can expect to pay a couple of thousand dollars. There are so many great telescope resources online that can help you do your research. We found a fantastic Astronomy for Beginners website with everything from astronomy tips, photographs, and equipment. It is a great idea to immerse yourself in resources like these in order to progress as an astronomer and to get the best advice on equipment and tools that you need. There are a huge range of telescopes available so check out online resources and reviews and reach out to your local astronomy group. There may be an opportunity for meeting up with other local astronomers and trying out their telescopes before deciding which one to buy online.
3. A red flashlight
The next tool that you will need to invest in is a red flashlight. You can easily make one of your own by taking red nail polish and painting a regular flashlight. The reason for this is that our eyes are very sensitive in the dark. If you flash a bright light in your eyes whilst out at night doing astronomy, it can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to readjust to the dark. You will not be able to see the stars and planets very well because the light from the flashlight will still be affecting your vision. You don’t want to shock your eyes with white light, so using a soft red light is best when out at night for astronomy. .
4. A field guide of the night sky
Field guides talk about stars, constellations, and different objects you can see in the night sky and will give you a really good overview of what it is that you’re looking at. Anytime you need help, you can just refer to your field guide and identify the mysterious celestial body. Astronomy is a lifetime learning process so don’t worry if you have to refer to your field guide too much. As you become a more experienced astronomer, you will need to rely on the field guide less and less.
5. An astronomy chair
Another essential tool that you’ll need is a comfortable chair to sit in. It is no fun standing on your legs with your neck straight up and trying to find the stars and constellations, so make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable chair. It really does help. You could also use a sleeping bag, or you can pile pillows in the back of a truck. In astronomy, it pays to get creative when it comes to being comfortable. If you are doing astronomy on a cold night, remember to wrap up warm with as many layers as possible or you could be in for a hard time.
Astronomy is such an interesting and rewarding activity and it can be done by anyone, anywhere as long as you have a few essential items. If you are a beginner astronomist or you are looking to take your stargazing to the next level, invest in some of the tools in this list and you will be able to enjoy astronomy even more.