Sky is for everyone! Fortunately, this most lucrative thing is available everywhere.
The nightly sky offers free ticket to the most starling shows of nature. Waiting for your attention.
So today, I’m going to show you how to stargaze with unaided eye in this practicle; Naked Eye Skywatching Guide for Planets and Stars.
Stargazing (or skywatching) is the act of observing the distant objects of nightly sky. Telescopes and binoculars are the most popularly used gears for this.
[ You can find out here, the top telescopes in India for stargazing. ]
But this no way mean that you can’t enjoy the beauty of the skies without them.
Infact, naked eye skywatching is the purest form of observation.
Humans have already learned a lot about the sky when there was no telescope or binoculars.
In this guide, you are going to learn:
The complete instructions on how to experience the best sky with unaided eyes.
Which place to choose for this? what are the things you should be carrying? How to read and navigate through the sky? Where to spot objects like planets and some special stars and more?
So I am going help you with all of this right below.
But first, What is Naked Eye Skywatching?
For your information; Its one of the most ancient scientific practice humans have ever been performing. One of its highlight is, it requires least(zero) instrumentation.
Naked eye skywatching involves observing nightly sky with your bare eyes.
Unlike regular skywatching which today is popularly exercised with telescopes or binoculars. The naked eye skywatching is the most pure form of observations of sky. And trust me, its still very effective and enjoyable- you will experience it yourself anyway.
Find Dark Sky Near You!
How did we learned a lot about our universe thousands of years ago, already with no telescopes? Let me tell you…there was complete absence of light pollution! There wasn’t such a thing in pre-industrial civilization.
That’s the hidden secret my friend – Dark Skies!
Artificial light is the biggest enemy for we astronomers today.
So go baby, and get into a as open & darker place as possible. With clear sky, free from clouds and dust. You should also be able to see from horizon to horizon.
Probably away from city and have it safe for you. Hill tops and beaches are great for this.
If travelling some distance is not possible. Turn off as much lights, computers and all those lighting things as you can.
You’ll also want to lie on your back (unless you want to stiff your neck of looking up). So make it comfy!
Grab This Things
Okay, not talking about telescope here!
There are few other things you should consider carrying with yourself (hope won’t be expensive).
First, a repellent to keep mosquitoes (and thus malaria) at the bay.
A red flash light for navigating and doing things. Wrapping red color over white flash may work but can fail in filtering other colors and end-up ruining your night vision.
Caution! No light other than red color should be used!
And a blanket maybe, for ease in laying down. Some hot/cold drink if you want to.
Give Your Eyes a Chance
When you first get into a dark place, high on hope to see it all. You may not experience a lot of difference and you’re likely to get discouraged.
But trust me, it’s completely normal. Your eyes just need to adopt to darkness and to activate the night vision.
It may take upto 20 minutes at Max to be at its best.
After that, you will start to experience the power of your naked eye. And beauties of sky. End up finding out how busy the nightly universe is.
But remember; once you get this process started, don’t look at shiny things or use your phone. I would go on & suggest to shut it for while to prevent calls from ruining the business of your eyes.
And again, use only red flash light. Because red is the only color that does not erect our pupil.
Observe the Motion
Now after following all those steps above, you are surely to see better.
So its time to upgrade. Lets read the sky like a pro!
Start gradually! Look for moving things in the sky. Meteor (also called shooting stars) appears like bright streak of light.
I am assuming that you choose the night of eclipse i.e. when moon is completely absent.
International Space Station! Can you see it?…It will look like a star, moving across the sky slowly and steadily.
Aeroplanes will flash green and red lights.
You have thousands of stars at yours sight. Now use your imagination!
Can you make pictures out of them? Our ancestors have been doing it for thousands of years. There are 88 named constellations already. 😮
Stars on casual view appears to be white. But if you observe them properly, even with naked eye, you will be amazed to find out that there are few stars of different colors.
Its little tricky, but some astronomers are successful in distinguishing them on the basis of their color; like red, orange and yellow.
Can we see planets with naked eye?
Yes! You can definitely see planets with naked eye. But not all of them (sorry!).
There are five of them; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. But you probably aren’t gonna get to see much details (unless you’re superhuman or you need telescope for that!).
They look brighter, little less like star. If lucky, you’ll be able to identify them by their color.
But you will also want to know when and where to look for it.
Gears you can use
Although there’s no compulsory gears (except your eyes). Trust me your eyes are just enough!
But I’m going mention two, if you can afford, will hone your skywatching experience.
Sky chart can make your life easier.
Astronomy is all about patience. To be a expert stargazer, it cost years of practice, dedication and hard work.
No doubt, you are going to have a lot of fun in this journey (if it’s your passion!).
So just keep practicing naked eye skywatching (binoculars/optional) maybe for few months. Then consider a good beginner level telescope so you can see things that not possible with naked eyes.
Upgrade slowly, steadily and buildup your personal collection of telescopes and binoculars.
So that’s what all my personal experience with naked eye skywatching speaks.
Yeah, I had a lot of fun doing it myself and wish for you the same!
And I will update you with more tips on this when I come across.
Okay, the the ball is at Your Court Now!
So you going to try this out for yourself? Which of this steps you find most useful? What is the planet that you are after? Let me know in comment below.