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Learning To Observe The Night Sky

Posted On: 17.01.06

Learning To Observe The Night Sky

Stargazing Basics:

Are you a winter couch potato? If you're looking for something new and exciting to try this winter, bundle up, grab a warm thermos and settle in for a spectacular show. It's the perfect time of year to observe amazing constellations in Alberta's beautiful night skies. Here are a few of several helpful tips by Deborah Byrd to get you started:

Look up. Most of us go through life looking straight ahead. But you’ve got to look up to see stars. Standing outside at a bus stop? Look at the sky. In your car? Look out the window. Going outside before sunup to grab the paper? Gaze toward the sunrise horizon. You get the idea. Notice bright objects. Notice patterns among the stars. Just start looking up and noticing.

Watch the moon. Earth’s companion moon is visible from city streets, suburban decks and wide-open rural pastures. The moon connects you to everybody on the planet, because, generally speaking, we all see the moon at the same phase. The moon’s orbit around Earth is regular and predictable. So the moon waxes and wanes in our sky in a way that’s about as satisfyingly regular and predictable as anything on Earth can be. At first, be sure to watch the moon at the same time each night. What do you notice? Is it getting fatter or thinner in phase? Is it moving with respect to nearby bright stars?

Notice patterns among the stars. Here’s how most stargazers learn constellations. They find a noticeable pattern, and then they notice another pattern nearby. They build outward, going from stars and patterns they know to new ones. Notice triangles, curves and straight lines of stars. Some of these noticeable patterns are the same ones our ancestors noticed while sitting around a campfire telling stories. Some of their stories ended up being passed down to us. Make up your own stories! Skylore is a form of folklore. It belongs to us: the folk.

Be faithful to the sky. One of the great things about becoming a stargazer is that you make a lifelong friend: the sky itself. It’s a friend that lives right next door. And like any friend, the sky changes in subtle ways from day to day and year to year. So, once you start watching it, be patient. You can’t learn everything about your friend at once. Be persistent. Watch the sky a lot and watch regularly. You’ll learn by looking! And you’ll make a connection with nature that’ll last your whole life long.

Read full article here...

Interested in trying something new?

Check out the sky observatory at CottageClub.

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