Anything you may find of interest in life, takes on greater meaning and may keep your attention longer, if you take steps to appreciate it more. This is easily said of interest in the night sky- whether you want to call it amateur astaronomy or simply loving the stars above.

Here’s 10 suggestions to go from a casual interest to calling yourself a dedicated observer.


Anything you may find of interest in life, takes on greater meaning and may keep your attention longer, if you take steps to appreciate it more. This is easily said of interest in the night sky- whether you want to call it amateur astaronomy or simply loving the stars above.
Here’s 10 suggestions to go from a casual interest to calling yourself a dedicated observer.
1. Learn  the constellations
Learn the constellations. Evening star charts for each month of the year are readily found in astaronomy magazines available at the news stand, as well as in books you can borrow from the public library.  Becoming familiar with the patterns among the stars helps you to organize the heavens. Also become acquainted with the phases and motions of the Moon and planets.
2. Read
Learn about the Universe. There are so many good books available, as well as magazine articles, and web sites. Find out what astaronomers have found out there, and the theories that have developed and are continually tested as mankind finds out more. There seem to be more questions than answers, which helps keep us going. Be inspired and learn how you can have a look for yourself- for free, and hopefully as close as your backyard.
3. Keep a journal
 A “stargazing log” of some kind, helps you keep track of what you observed, and when. Depending on how far you’d like to go with it, you can keep the dates, hours, descriptions, sketches and impressions of the celestial phenomena that you discovered.  Enrich your time by looking up more information about what you just chronicled.
4. Keep warm!
You’ll last longer out there if you are dressed for the cold night air; it doesn’t take long to feel cold standing outside! If you use a telescope, find a way to look through it with as little strain as possible.
5. Adapt eyes
Have your eyes adapted for the dark. It takes about 10 minutes or so to star to see the stars well after coming out from a bright house. It can help to let your eyes adjust for a few minutes in a partially lit room. Hint: If you plan to look at the Moon in a telescope and also some stars, look at the stars first. Once you train your telescope at the bright Moon, you will lose any dark adaptation that you had. A lunar filter fitted to the eyepiece helps.
6. Clubs
Get to know others of similar interest. Visit an astaronomy club or planetarium. They sometimes have public observing sessions scheduled.
7. Equipment
 Before buying a telescope, try binoculars. You will always find them useful, and for some uses, they are better to use than a telescope. When buying a telescope, it may be wise to start small, and get advice from others who have experience.  A poor quality telescope might discourage some, or spur you on to greater. Remember: You don’t have to take a second job to afford astronomy. You can enjoy the sky FREE OF CHARGE- with eyes alone. Sooner or later, however, you’ll likely want a closer look!
8. Picking site
 Find a suitable location. Observe from an area that is safe, with a wide open sky and shielded from neighboring lights. Do the best you can with what you have. Even from a city, you have good views of the Moon and bright planets.
9. See it all
Take it all in- look for meteors, the Moon, planets, star clusters, galaxies and satellites, and more.
10. Patience
Lastly, have a humble spirit, a patient heart and a good imagination.Rember, little in the sky will appear to happen quickly, and you will frequently be “clouded out.” Let yourself be inspired and filled with awe!
Send your comments to news@neagle.com.
Last quarter Moon is on Jan. 26.
Keep looking up!