While you may look up at the stars from time to time, have you ever spent an entire night studying, appreciating, and marveling at the stars? A night of stargazing can introduce you to natural phenomena you’ve never seen up close.
You don’t have to train like an astronaut before heading out for a stargazing adventure, but you do need to bring some essential equipment to make your time outside memorable and comfortable. Here are some essentials to help you experience the mysterious majesty of the night sky in all its galactic glory.
Don’t risk a sprained ankle while looking for a great spot to admire the stars. Light up your path with a flashlight, or bring a headlamp to leave your hands free to carry the rest of your gear. No matter which you bring, check that your light can handle accidental drops and is waterproof.
It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, so look for flashlights and headlamps with red light modes. You can see what you’re doing on the ground one moment and look up at the stars the next without hampering your night vision.
You may not have a problem making out the Milky Way, constellations, stars, and meteors with your naked eye, but telescopes make stargazing even more breathtaking. Look for telescopes designed for stargazing beginners, like those with two eyepieces, an objective lens, and a travel tripod. You may also prefer a modern smartphone app-enabled telescope that studies overhead star patterns and determines their position in real-time.
Check reviews to see how easy it is to set up and use the telescope before purchasing it. After all, you want to spend more time enjoying the stars, not waste time struggling to set up your telescope.
Tent and Sleeping Bag
A night of stargazing may turn into a night spent sleeping under the stars. Pack a sleeping bag and tent if you think you’ll be tempted to trade your bed canopy for a canopy of stars. Choose a lightweight tent that’s easy to carry, preferably one with mesh panels that let you continue enjoying looking up at the stars from inside your tent.
Other than features that lend themselves to stargazing, consider the season when shopping for tents. Some tents convert from a double-layer outer bag for colder temperatures to a thin outer layer for warmer months.
Getting away from civilization is great for avoiding light pollution, but not-so-great for avoiding bugs. Don’t let bothersome bug bites keep you from enjoying stargazing! Before leaving the house, use a bug spray that’s long-lasting, non-greasy, and effective against various bugs.
Just as it’s easy to get lost in an unfamiliar area, it’s easy to lose your way looking up at unfamiliar night skies. Download an astronomy app or two on your smartphone before heading out, so you can identify all the stars, planets, and constellations you see.
While exploring different apps, check to see that you can still use them when you don’t have a strong signal. You may want to venture out into the wilderness to study different constellations, so it helps to have an app that works everywhere.
Other than apps that help you identify constellations and planets, you may also want an app that gives you the best view of the night sky. If so, download an app that helps you skirt around light pollution and identifies dark sky spots ideal for stargazing.
An astrological adventure is a perfect way to discover a new hobby, learn something new, or just get out of the house. With all the above stargazing essentials in tow, you’re ready to explore the starry night sky and all its wonders.