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Winter Stargazing
Tips & Tricks

Nothing can compare to being outdoors on a dark, starry night and gazing at the endless field of shimmering lights. Here are a few easy tips and tricks to make you comfortable, help you see more stars, and better observe the nighttime sky. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Start by watching the weather reports for the forecast and wait for a clear, moonless night. Check out when to look for spectacular celestial events year-round.
  2. You can stargaze from your window, however, if you want to see the entire sky you'll need to go outdoors, so prepare yourself for the weather. Since it's winter, of course you'll want to wear a coat, hat, boots, and mittens on a cold night. A thermos of hot chocolate also works great to help you stay warm as you gaze into the night time sky. A flashlight will help you find your way in the dark. By attaching red cellophane onto the end of the light, you'll keep your eyes better adjusted to the darkness and it will take less time for your eyes to adjust once you're ready to begin stargazing. Wearing sunglasses in the house as you get ready will also help your eyes adjust to the darkness. A compass will help you orient yourself to the night sky and to any starchart you bring along.
  3. Tell a parent or guardian that you want to go stargazing, discuss and agree upon a safe place, or invite them along on your stargazing adventure. Why not invite a friend? You'll want to select a site that is away from major city lights and doesn't have too many trees blocking the skyview, even your back yard may be suitable. Pick a place where you can lay on your back. A reclining lawn chair with a sleeping bag to snuggle in works great when it's cold out. You'll be most comfortable watching stars by laying on your back.
  4. Take along any stargazing equipment you may have. Although your eyes alone will do just fine, you may choose to use a pair of binoculars or a telescope, if you've got them, since they can help you "deep-watch" the sky to find galaxies and star clusters. [kids artwork]

    If you plan to use these stargazing aids, be sure to put them outside in advance so they can "cool off" to avoid any blurring of your field of view.

  5. Once you reach your viewing spot, let your eyes adjust for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy the nighttime sky on your own, or try some of these stargazing activities.
  6. If you are having trouble seeing many stars, it could be caused by light pollution, check it out!

Read on to learn about fun stargazing activities and special celestial events.



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