Polluted skies are awful, and there’s no denying that they can ruin the entire experience of a stargazer. That’s why I usually take my equipment and drive out of town in case I want to have a good look at the celestial objects that interest me. Recently, I’ve taken to going out with my son, and I like that we can do a bit of bonding while I tell him the basics of optics, physics, space, and all that jazz.
The first thing you have to do, in my opinion, if you want to make sure that everything goes as planned, is to find a place that’s really dark. You can see a lot more if the sky is less polluted with light, so make sure to retire to some spots such as a state park or any open area where there aren’t too many buildings, street lights, or the chance of traffic is unlikely.
The next tip I would suggest is studying constellations. You don’t even need an expensive telescope to look at stars, but you may want to know which ones you’re looking at. Some of the basic star groupings you might want to know are the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and Cassiopeia, as you can use them as indicators for the other stars and planets.
I also recommend going online and searching for several forums. It’s much likely to get some help from someone who is passionate about the same topic as you than to ask around in hopes that some of your friends might be into your hobbies. Most stargazers out there are nice people, and they can help you do a lot of things, be they picking the right beginner’s telescope, finding the perfect places to watch the sky at night, or getting additional lenses and accessories.
Above all, I think that it is important to emphasize that you first have to find out as much as you can about the equipment you own and only then use it outdoors. What I mean by this is that, once you have purchased a telescope, you need to take some time to get accustomed to it and learn how to use it by reading the owner’s manual. Everyone knows this, to be sure, but hardly anyone does it.
If you own a photo camera and you haven’t taken the time to read the manual, you might not be able to make the most of it. And that’s a shame, given that amazing pictures can be taken even with the most basic models of digital cameras. Get to know your telescope and be patient with yourself and with the device and don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s worthless just because you haven’t yet learned how to use it.