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Be an Astronomer Right From Your Window

by Lexi Westingate - November 2014

For thousands of years, people have been fascinated by the stars and the heavens. Ever since the time of Galileo, people have been enamored with the mystery and beauty of what our universe has to offer. People today do not have to work at NASA to get a close-up look at the planets and stars. You can be your own astronomer and your own scientist, all from the comfort of your own home or your own backyard.

At-Home Astronomy Techniques

If you're interested in looking at the stars from home, there are several different techniques used to do so. The most common and easy method is known as star-hopping. This process involves looking at the stars with a simple viewing tool such as binoculars. Basically, star-hopping just means that you can look at individual stars with the naked eye, and you do not really see the full constellation or the details of planets or stars. A more complicated method of at-home astronomy is called setting circles. This method requires a more complicated tool like a telescope, and you look up at the stars through the two main axes of the telescope. You can use the markers found in most common telescopes as a set point to then find and focus in on the stars you want to see. With new technology such as high-definition cameras, stargazers can also follow something called imaging techniques. This technique allows you to find and hone in on a star, cluster of stars, or planet, then attach the camera to your viewing device and take a clear photo. Astronomy has become so popular that many people have star parties, where everyone gets together and enjoys looking at the stars together. This is best done in areas where there is little to no light pollution from cities, where you have a clearer view, such as the desert, mountains, or beach.

Tools of the Trade

Before the 1980s, telescopes were usually only used by scientists or wealthy people. But they soon became more available to the public in the form of everything from low-resolution models to much more complicated ones. One model is called the GoTo telescope. This telescope lets the user enter in their coordinates for the star they want to view, and the telescope will then hone in directly on it by itself. These telescopes are great for the casual viewer, classrooms, or people who just want to look at any star at random. Another tool for the at-home astronomer is the remote-control telescope. This kind of telescope allows the viewer to see anything extremely far away as long as the telescope is in a dark spot. It is a more modern version that has some digital mechanics built in. Once you find something you enjoy looking at, you can capture the image and transmit it to the Internet for others to enjoy. Of course, a simple, everyday telescope is also available for younger fans of the heavens who want to just enjoy stargazing out of their window or outdoors. A star chart can be really helpful for anyone who is trying to locate a specific star. There are even phone apps today that people can install to help them locate the many different planets and constellations in our universe. No matter what your level of knowledge and expertise is, you can see the stars from home in a number of different ways. With a little bit of practice and learning new stars and where they are, you will be more than just a novice astronomer in time. Soon, you can point out the planets, constellations, and galaxies to your friends and wow them with your newfound understanding of our beautiful universe.

Article written by Lexi Westingate - Retrieved on November 24, 2014 from


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