• Mayur Pawar

Do you know: 10 steps to become an astronomical observer

Astronomy is the fastest pacing science around the globe, there's always new discovery every day.

Wondering the night sky? Now is the right time to follow your dreaming hobby. Don't know how? Here you GO!!!

1. Get to know the sky

Earth rotates once a day and orbits the Sun once each year. The first motion causes sky objects to move from east to west, and the second causes different constellations to appear in each season’s sky.

Next, learn why the sky is the celestial sphere. It has a north pole, an equator, and a south pole. Two sky coordinates exist: Right ascension is like earthly longitude, and declination mimics latitude.

Read up on Moon phases. The Moon first becomes visible as a thin crescent low in the western evening sky. Each night thereafter, it appears to grow and move eastward until Full Moon, after which its lit part shrinks to invisibility. When you again spot the thin crescent low in the west, roughly 30 days have passed. You’ll want to know the Moon’s phase because its light can prevent you from seeing faint objects.

Finally, become familiar with bright seasonal constellations. Start with just a couple per season: Taurus the Bull and Orion the Hunter in winter; Scorpius the Scorpion and Cygnus the Swan in summer; and so on. Don’t worry about the faint ones. If you haven’t heard of them — for example, Lacerta and Serpens — there’s probably a good reason why.

2. Let yourself involved

Observe new sites, stars and celestial body every time. There are many observing guides for beginners and to know and observe more-and-more astronomical bodies. Follow up-to-date observing guides like Sky&telescope and or get involved in local astronomical events and society.

3. Try telescope before you buy

You wouldn’t buy a car without first getting behind the wheel, so don’t purchase a telescope without first viewing through it. Some astronomy shops or events will set up equipment for you, and a few even will walk you through its operation.

Another way to test-drive a scope is to attend an observing session or a regional star party hosted by astronomical societies. Take your time, visit manufacturer websites, ask lots of questions, and you’ll soon enjoy a lifetime of viewing pleasure through your very own scope.

4. Pick your observing site carefully

If you’ll be content with the Sun, the Moon, planets, and double stars, pretty much any location will do. To see faint, diffuse objects like nebulae and galaxies, however, you’ll need a dark site.

Some things to consider are how light-polluted the location is the driving distance, how portable your telescope is, safety (do you get cell phone service?), and weather factors. The last point includes how generally clear the sky is and how steady the air is.

Lunar surface

5. Double the time in day-time

The night isn’t the only time you can sky-watch. The Sun beckons beginning observers because it’s big, bright, and full of features that change daily. Put safety first by using a filter, and even a small scope will deliver high-quality views.

After several years of quiescence, when few sunspots appeared across its face, our nearby star has begun offering observers lots to see again. Be sure to get a filter that fits correctly over the front end of your telescope. A good solar filter — many retailers sell such accessories — will not transmit harmful ultraviolet or infrared radiation. It will also drop the brightness of the Sun to a viewable level

6. Comfort yourself

Observing could be so soothing experience for both point-view of adventure and intellect, but it could be worse if you are not prepared properly. If you are offsite then there should be suitable survival equipment with you. Adjustable chairs are a good suggestion for telescopic observation by many observers.

7. Photographing is rewarding but time-consuming

You can take pictures of astronomical objects. Here’s the other side: Astroimaging takes practice, and there is a learning curve. The higher the quality of the final image, the steeper the curve.

Remember that producing a high-quality picture involves two stages. First, you acquire the data through your camera, and then you process that image with the appropriate software. Lots of resources exist to help you learn the art of astrophotography. Read all you can from here, take lots of images, and eventually, you’ll proudly show off your results to family and friends.

Solar eclipse

8. Keep a log

You will want to remember what you’ve seen. A simple log contains the date and time of your observation, what object(s) you looked at, and a brief description, like, “Saw spiral arms!” or “Really blue, but no details visible.”

More-detailed logs might contain information about the telescope you used, what eyepiece(s) and magnification(s), sky conditions (percent of cloud cover, amount of light pollution, the steadiness of stars), and the faintest star you could see with your naked eye. Observers call that quantity the sky’s “limiting magnitude.”

9. Become a social astronomer

Visit a planetarium. Attend astronomical events. Observe with other amateur astronomers. Get on the Internet, collect information and chat in forums. Without question, the best step you can take is to join a local astronomical society. Attend its meetings and observing sessions. This will place you with a group of like-minded individuals who can either answer your questions or help you figure out where to get them answered.

10. Observe everything!

The Moon has hundreds of targets on its ever-changing face, and even a small instrument will show most of them. The planets spend lots of time in the early evening or morning sky. A short drive each month during the dark of the Moon may yield dozens of galaxies. While you take them all in, you’ll surely marvel at the magnificent universe above and the richness of the hobby you have chosen.