All about Amateur Astronomy – Exploring the Sky at Night


Amateur Astronomy or Stargazing is the hobby of watching stars and objects in the sky. It is said that telescope or binocular are necessary for amateur astronomer. But this is not true at all. When the movement of different planets of the solar system and other objects in the sky were discovered there were no binoculars or telescope on those days. One really does need to have interest and patience to become an amateur star gazer. One can see the sky with unaided eye to explore the beauty of it at night. Most of the Solar System Planets, Constellations, few Comets, and Shooting Stars can be seen without any Astronomical Tool.

Few Steps for Amateur Astronomers:

  • Reading books on Astronomy and knowing about Sun, Moon Phase, Planets, Stars, Constellation, etc. Books really are a good source to gather knowledge as it contains detail along with images. Visiting Planetarium and attending Sky Programs are also good options.
  • Purchasing Sky Map or Sky Atlas and taking reference from them. These can guide during the sky gazing.
  • Getting a good place for watching. In sky-gazing, the observing position of an amateur astronomer is very important so that one could see the sky properly. It’s always better to choose an area which is pollution free and is away from the city lights which can affect watching the sky. Park, Free Land, Yard, etc. are ideal places for sky gazing.

Objects that can be seen with Naked Eyes

  • Moon phase is a very good natural phenomenon to be observed.
  • Solar system: Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn can also be seen with naked eye.
  • Constellations: Constellations are very good option for the amateurs. Knowing constellation is the first step towards astronomy which is like countries in the sky. There are 88 official constellations in the sky; they all cover the Celestial Sphere together. Few of them which can be seen with naked eyes are Orion, Big Dipper, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, etc. Leo, Gemini, Taurus, Libra, Sagittarius, etc. are few constellations which are related to astrology as well.

  • Milky Way:  We can probably see the Milky Way in the sky with unaided eyes in the southern end. It is build of millions of stars & gas and dust. Milky Way used to appear as a band from the Earth. Solar System is located in the disc of the Milky Way which is 27,000 Light Years away from the Galactic Center. The center of the Milky Way lies in the constellation Sagittarius.
  • Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, Double Stars, Star Clusters, and Globular Clusters can also be seen.

Binoculars are great option to view Celestial Objects in more detail. One can buy a low priced of the same in the initial stage. Generally 7×50, 10×50 binoculars are good at starting. First number represents the zoom and the second number represents the diameter of the objective lens (in mm).

Amateur Astronomy is a lifelong pursuit if one really like and can do that. As there is always something new to explore, it is always worth doing and exploring.