Annual Stargazing Night
Our Annual Stargazing Night brings us closer to that big space which is our Solar System. We are fortunate to have a retired published Doctor of Physics and astronomy lover, Dr. Gollnick, as part of our Sunland Family. Originally volunteered by his grandchildren, former students at Sunland Elementary, he now gives lectures and shares his high-tech equipment with our students. The Annual Stargazing Night gives students a first-hand look at planets, consolations, and moons that share our Solar System with us.
5 Tips for Stargazing
Stargazing is for everybody. It’s for people who like seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture … people with a sense of wonder … people who just like being outside at night. Maybe that’s you. If so, here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Look up. Most of us go through life looking straight ahead. But you’ve got to look up to see stars. Standing outside at a bus stop? Look at the sky. In your car? Look out the window. Going outside before sunup to grab the paper? Gaze toward the sunrise horizon. You get the idea. Notice bright objects. Notice patterns among the stars. Just start looking up and noticing.
2. Watch the moon. Earth’s companion moon is visible from city streets, suburban decks, and wide-open rural pastures. The moon connects you to everybody on the planet, because, generally speaking, we all see the moon at the same phase. The moon’s orbit around Earth is regular and predictable. So the moon waxes and wanes in our sky in a way that’s about as satisfyingly regular and predictable as anything on Earth can be. At first, be sure to watch the moon at the same time each night. What do you notice? Is it getting fatter or thinner in phase? Is it moving with respect to nearby bright stars?
3. Watch the sun. Don’t look directly at it, of course. But do notice the point on the horizon where the sun rises or sets as seen from your kitchen window, or balcony, or yard. Does that rising or setting point change as the seasons pass? Does the path of the sun from east to west during the day change? The sun rises due east and sets due west at every equinox.
4. Use a chart. The Internet is great, but a computer is an unwieldy companion on stargazing adventures. What you want is a printed chart. Start with the easy-to-use charts at EarthSky Tonight. These daily charts are geared toward beginners, and each one presents something interesting to spot in that night’s sky.
5. Be faithful to the sky. One of the great things about becoming a stargazer is that you make a lifelong friend: the sky itself. It’s a friend that lives right next door. And like any friend, the sky changes in subtle ways from day to day and year to year. So, once you start watching it, be patient. You can’t learn everything about your friend at once. Be persistent. Watch the sky a lot and watch regularly. You’ll learn by looking! And you’ll make a connection with nature that’ll last your whole life long.