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Anyone that likes to look at the stars in his free time?


I recently got interested in watching documentaries about space, etc. Thats why I'm thinking about buying a telescope and do some starspotting at night. I was wondering if there are any of you who enjoy looking at the stars at night, and have some time to explain how, when, etc they do this.

Here are some questions that I would like to start with.
- When would I best perform this. When is the peak time to look at the stars. Does it mather? Eg. does 1AM give you a better view than midnight? Is there some kind of peak?
- Where would I do this? I live in a small city, with a lot of lighting. Would you recommend me to go in the forrest, at an open spot, ... Or could I just do this in my garden?
- What equipment do you use. A telescope ofcourse, but do you use anything special aswell. Talking about tracking software on your PC, etc... Could you explain to me what the difference is between telescopes, is there some kind of how ordering system on how bright the stars must be for that telescope to see them, and a more expensive one would see them faster?
- How much would a telescope cost? I'm not looking for something special and fancy, but ofcourse my budget is limited. Could you provide me a good website where you could buy this, or check the prices?
- Are you in any community that helps you wich tracking and stuff. I understand that some planets are very bright sometimes, also heard about the iridium flares, ... Is there any good website that provides predictions and so on? (I use for prediction of the Iridium satellites flares & ISS passes)

Thank you & sorry for the English Wink
joostvane wrote:

- Where would I do this? I live in a small city, with a lot of lighting. Would you recommend me to go in the forrest, at an open spot, ... Or could I just do this in my garden?

I don't use a telescope, but I do live close enough to the country to know this:

Get as far as you can from any town! The light pollution from even a very small town drowns out the vast majority of stars.

You'll never know what people are talking about when they mention the 'milky way', unless you get at least 20 miles away from any town, on a clear night. Then, it'll be obvious.

The other day, I was outside at night, away from the towns. Though there was no meteor shower that was supposed to happen, and though the night was partially cloudy, I saw dozens of meteors... It's amazing what you see when you're away from the lights... You can see satellites orbiting with your bare eyes if it's dark enough.

There is no best time of night, but the best time of the month is when there is a new moon, or close to it. The moon can also cast enough light to drown out the stars.
I saw the sky from Mt Cook in New Zealand.

It was a magnificent view! You could see the red band across the sky ... you could see the Milky Way clearly!

If you use a very powerful telescope, I think that you would see only a certain area of the sky ... not the entire sky as a whole which is visible to the naked eye ... so that would hinder the beauty I guess.

Now, if you want to stargaze for scientific purposes then yes .. a telescope with a high magnification is required.

SO, I suggest you go to some hill station or place with high altitude that is secluded from civilization ... and take a small telescope along (small i.e. not with a very powerful magnification)

And I think around midnight and so on should be dark enough to see the stars. You'll have the best chance when the night is the darkest (of course, it also matters which phase of the moon it is)

About buying telescopes and web sites giving predictions, I'm unsure.
Of course i love looking at the stars! It is just a shame i live smack bang in the middle of the city so the only thing i can see when i look up is the moon and if i'm lucky, a handful of stars. But luckily for me, every now and then i go to a less populated area for holidays where i can see thousands upon thousands of stars and the more i look, the more stars there seems to be.
I went on holiday to Poland. One evening we went up pretty high in the mountains, and I saw loads of stars! Much greater view than I ever had in Belgium!
i sometimes look at stars at night if the sky is clear.i like stars.
This makes me miss Arizona so much. My birth town of Yuma is in the middle of a huge desert, and there is a place nearby called the Kofa Game Range, home of the Kofa mountain range, and one of the most beautiful places on earth, to me. The sky gets so clear at night, and if there are no clouds, the view is amazing, as seen in this first photo.

These are the Kofa mountains and sky at night(no PhotoShop or other effects added, just a straight camera shot)

These below are just day pictures of the Kofa mountains, desert, and canyons. My personal paradise.
This is looking back into the Kofa Queen canyon.

This is Signal Peak.

Not sure exactly where this is, but it's in the same general area, during sunrise.

And finally, the vast expanse of the Kofa desert.
I want to point out one thing: You don't really need a telescope if you are just a beginner. Binoculars will be a great choice however because the telescope will zoom into a small patch of sky and you will not be able to see much if you don't point to the right direction. Another thing is the motion. Any object you point will be off your view in a few seconds because of the motion of the Earth. The telescope will only help you detect this motion. Although learning to use a telescope is a great idea but not for starters. For starters binoculars are the best choice. Use sky charts to locate stars and planets and then nebulas, etc from the binoculars. Then use the telescope. I learnt all this from my friends and I can use a telescope now, but I still love my binoculars.

You should post that pic (Kofa mountains and sky at night) on one of those websites that people can use as Galleries.

That would also be great as an Album/CD Cover
i like it,but the sky is ofen full of cloud in my city.
Unfortunately the only stars I can see at night are annoyingly bright street lights. The only meteors are speeding buses and the hideously bright skyscrapers are basically the Milky Way of the scene. Neutral Though we once did go to the country side six years ago on a special night where Jupiter was extremely clear. I was able to see the red spot clearly through the telescope, so that was a magnificent sight.
That pic of the sky at night of the Kofa mountains is amazing. I never realised the sky could be so amazing. I'm just shocked.

In Belgium almost everything is urbanised, not really big cities but theres always some light nearby. Seems like I'm going for a trip in the near future.
you have to watch the starts all the time as they too rise and set as the sun does
You should get a good map of the sky and a possibly a binoculars for starters
check the web for the night sky map in your area and time
During my trip in Slowakia, I watched the stars overnight. It was amazing. Never seen so many stars (except on the internet ofcourse), but still.

My friend had a huge and expensive teloscope there, and we watched for over 3 hours. Enjoyed it a lot!
I just look at the sky on my pc, now a days, there are a lot of good prograns that is better them look at sky, we can see much better in those softwares.
I've often had similar thoughts, don't really have the money to be doing it though - I live in a village with very little street lighting and you can always see a lot but those kofa mountain pictures are amazing, I'm thinking that there's nowhere in the UK is good as that. There are a lot of national parks and stuff that are "pure darkness" or whatever but I can't imagine it looking like that.
It's really pity that I live in a city where stars can seldom be seen as lights are shining at night Sad
The sky are often red or orange, without a single star. Yet I did love watching them when I was young, in a small lovely village.
You can buy a telescope to spy mysteriou star ,hehe.

inuyasha wrote:
It's really pity that I live in a city where stars can seldom be seen as lights are shining at night Sad
The sky are often red or orange, without a single star. Yet I did love watching them when I was young, in a small lovely village.
It is one of the most interesting pastimes especially for lonely people
Jupiter is rising in the east this month and will be overhead at midnight. You can't miss it: it is the brightest star in the sky! Using a good pair of binoculars you can see Jupiter and four of its moons: Jupiter will be a small white disk and the moons will be sharp pinpricks of light in a line.
It's been a while since I stared into the midst of the universe. My house at night you can see a million shooting stars, it's quite beautiful if you ask me.
Astronomy is a hobby of mine ^_^ Used to live in the suburb and from there, with no artificial lighting around, the view was amazing.

There isn't a limit to be honest. As long as it's full night, and all sunset lighting has gone away, go ahead and look at the sky how much you want ^^
The only difference that is, stars will move across the sky during the night, so new constellations will rise and set all the for example you see Orion rising at 10, by 1am it'll be midsky then it'll go on and set by morning. So the "landscape" changes all the time xD

While living in my country house, until a few years ago, I'd go out every night to see the stars. When we moved to where we live now *downtown* there is not much direct artificial lighting but nevertheless, I can't see more than 10 stars+planets >.<
So best advice is to go somewhere on a hill if you can, above any city lights. Not out of your back garden though, you most likely won't see anything from there.

A powerful pair of binoculars is okay for a start as well Smile
As for me, I'm using Starry Night for a software.
The difference is only that a more powerful telescope will allow you to see more detail in the sky. Like a microscope glass, you know? The more powerful the microscope is the more details you see in the item studied.
Say, with a telescope that magnifies 10 times you will see Jupiter as a very bright shiny star, but you won't see any details on its surface.
With a telescope that magnifies 50 times you will see details, like the Giant Red Spot or Saturn's rings ^^
None allows you to see things *faster* because just like on a photographic plate, the light from a star needs to impress your retina, so that takes a little adjusting time ^^ So don't worry about seeing "faster", worry about seeing "farther" =]
I currently live in the city, so star gazing is not possible forme. I plan on moving out into the country in the next year or so, and I plan on buying a very good telescope and gazing at the stars. I also plan on shooting some nice photos and time-lapse videos of the stars moving across the night sky.
mengshi200 wrote:
You can buy a telescope to spy mysteriou star ,hehe.

Thanks for your suggestion Very Happy But It feels really different when watching the stars with a telescope. I would be considered to be doing some rearch rather than enjoying the beautiful sight consisting of stars. Yeah, that's it. A telescope is too scientific for me sometimes.
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