Sky observation with the naked eye
Once you became interested in astronomy, it is not necessary to s-curve and purchase an expensive telescope immediately in order to orient yourself in the night sky. Mankind has monitored stars with the naked eye for thousands of years and made many wonderful discoveries. For the first exploration of the Starry sky you only need a cloudless starry night and the star map.
You can see a lot of wonderful things even with the naked eye (some of them can not be seen with the telescope!):
- to track the rotation of celestial sphere – reflection of the Earth rotation on its axis, to learn to find the Pole Star, understand and learn to use celestial coordinates;
- to watch the movement of the Moon, change of its phases, discern major structures on its surface, admire eclipse;
- recognize and know planets, you will be able to monitor the forward movement of them through Zodiac constellations in the star background;
- to know the constellations and to remember their names, admire Milky Way band, distinguish stars for their colors and sharpness, you will notice that quite different constellations are shining in the summer sky than in winter time;
-discern some of the binary and variable stars, a number of stellar clusters, nebulae and even a distant galaxy;
- to follow shooting-stars – meteors;
- to see rare celestial guests – trailed comets;
- to observe some interesting meteorological phenomena occurring in the upper atmosphere strata: silvery (noctilucent) clouds, the northern lights (aurora borealis), haloes (circles around the Sun and Moon, light poles, etc.);
- to disassociate concave rushing of artificial Earth satellites from the International Space Station.
The initial acquaintance with the treasures of heaven begins with the cognition of constellation patterns. Constant shapes of brightest constellations are the best guide for further observations.
Take care to bundle up. Observation of the heavens is not a very active process, so even a summer night romance can quickly finish if you begin to chatter freezing.
To do the sky observation in August and in April is the funniest. These months have warm nights and sufficiently dark sky to offer. On the June night you will see only a few brightest stars.
Avoid lit places. City lights are one of the biggest enemies of amateur astronomy.
Adapt eyes to the darkness. The eye gets used to the dark within at least 20 minutes. One look at the bright light makes all your efforts damaged. If necessary to have light, use a red flashlight.
Avoid the full moon. Bright moonlight lets observe (spot) only the most glaring luminaries.
Use a star map. The school rotational star map is placed on the our site, you can print it out and after cutting it out you’ll get to know what constellations are visible tonight.(as for the star map, the best is to raise it turned over above one’s head!). Also zoom out pictures hosted in this article (double click on them).
If you already are well up in star patterns, try to find these interesting objects, which can be seen in a dark night with the naked eye: Andromeda Galaxy (M13), Orion Nebula (M42) Pleiades and Hyades – open stellar clusters in Taurus constellation, the Beehive Stellar Cluster in Cancer constellation (M44), Mizar – binary stars in the Great Bear (Thunder’s Cart) constellation, the Milky Way band, Mira – periodically “disappearing” variable star of the Cetus. Read on our site, what planets are visible in the sky this month, and locate them in appropriate constellations (the planets are very easy to distinguish because of their bright shine).
Once the most famous constellations found, look for the slightly pale (look for more detailed star maps on the internet).Celestial sphere is divided into 88 constellations altogether, one-third of which never rise above horizon in the latitude of N.
Please note that the constellations are not really related groups of stars, but the celestial sectors with the presence of all stars located in all areas there.
For example, the Great Bear (Thunder’s Cart) constellation is much larger than the famous 7 star “Scoop” and you can count up … over 100 small stars there.