General Question

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

How do i learn more about the sky?

Asked by itsnotmyfault1 (198points) November 14th, 2007

Im pretty sure i know the big dipper.
Orion’s belt is so ridicously bright, it’s hard to miss.
but, besides those, i’m always lost when i look in the sky.
It only bothers me when i hear about a meteor shower “by taurus” or “originating from Perseus”.
I borrowed a book from the library, but I didn’t really know how to read star maps.

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6 Answers

osakarob's avatar

Is there a planetarium in your community that you could visit?
How about a local amateur astronomy club?

tekn0lust's avatar

osakarob is spot on. No better way to get introduced than through others.

Also, dark skies will help you tremendously, as well as take your breath away.

…and finally a fantastic little free program from the early 90’s called Skyglobe. It says for DOS, but will run in XP. http://www.sidewalkastronomy.com/skyglobe/SKYGLOBE3.6.zip

gailcalled's avatar

Learning the star patterns well enough to navigate and identify stuff takes a long time, like learning Spanish. Planetariums are great fun as are local astronomy clubs. But you need to know some stuff first. I wouldn’t use any online sites. You need a book with really good explanations, photos and sky maps to refer to, over and over, and drag outside, spill cocoa on, and refer to over and over (or is there an echo in here), like a road map.

I would suggest NIGHTWATCH, by Terence Dickinson. I took Astronomy 101 in 1954–55 in order to fulfill a science requirement, ended up w. it as my concentration, did research at the Harvard U Observatory for 7 years (for a salary) and have spent the next zillion years still learning. I use the book all the time. Get a piece of red cellophane to cover flashlight and then you can use it outside. Also Astronomical binocs…8×30ish, unless you have wrists like Aanold.

tecn is right; don’t waste your time unless you are somewhere w. good seeing. Also keep in mind that the human eye takes about 20 minutes to acclimate to the dark.

Try to use the two stars in outer side of the cup of the big dipper to point you to the North Star (Polaris), which is the top of the handle of the Little Dipper. That’s tonight’s homework :-)

gailcalled's avatar

Learning elementary Astronomy online, or even the constellations, which change seasonally, is like disecting a frog or doing Chem experiments in cyberspace. Software is fun, but does not replace the old-fashioned way of learning.

MedivhX's avatar

Well, first consider researching some websites a bit, and you can also download some planetarium-simulation software such as Stellarium that is free, open-source and available for Linux, MacOS and Windows. There is also another program called Celestia, it’s not planetarimu simulation, but it is very cool program and very popular among astronomy hobbyists.

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