Have you ever seen Galileo or a Geminid shower?
If you're not sure where to start the best
thing to do is to buy a planisphere, a red torch and take a visit
to your local astronomical society.
A planisphere is a circular plastic device that
will show you which groups of stars, known as constellations, can
be seen in the sky at any time of the year.
Planispheres come in two sizes: the larger version
with a diameter of about 20cm is easier to work with.
It is made up of two plastic disks fixed together
at the centre. The bottom disk has a map of the sky with the days
of the year around the edge.
The top disk has the hours of the day around the
edge. By lining up the date with the time of day you will get a
map of what you can see in the sky.
|There is a lot you can see with the naked
eye - a red torch will help them adapt to the dark.
Red torches for night vision
You need to see what you are doing when working
outside at night.
It can take up to an hour for the eye to adapt
to the dark, so the astronomer has to be
outside for about an hour before they start to see things at their
White light from an ordinary torch destroys the
dark adaption so it's worth buying a red torch.
It will help you read your planisphere without
losing your ability to see in the dark.
These two pieces of equipment don't cost very much
and will give you a great start.
You will also need some patience!
The British weather means
we often have clouds and rain, but stick with it and you will soon
learn your way around the sky and see some amazing sights.
to be an astronomer »