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Getting Started Stargazing

Whether you view the night sky with telescope, binoculars, or the naked eye, here are a few tips to enhance your stargazing experience:

  • It takes a minimum of 15 minutes outside in the dark for your eyes to adapt to the lack of light, and can take up to 45 minutes for best nighttime seeing.
  • Be careful not to look at any bright lights. Cover your flashlight with red cellophane or use a red lens. Red light will not lessen your night vision.
  • The best viewing occurs during the dark of the moon lunar phase that produces the darkest skies.
  • Binoculars at 7 x 50 power are the most popular size for stargazing, but the more-standard 7 x 35 will work fine to get started.
  • Meteor showers are an excellent time to view the night sky, adding the excitement of ‘falling stars’ as they are sometimes called. The park offers public programming each August during the Perseids Meteor Shower.
  • Explore the Calendar of Events page for scheduled programs.
  • Star hopping is a common method to learn to navigate the night sky and begin to identify constellations.
  • Visible constellations in the evening sky change with the seasons. These guides show some common and easy-to-find constellations for each season.
  • Star maps and charts will help you learn the position of constellations at different times of the year, and the positions of major stars and constellations, many of which can be seen with the naked eye.

Useful Websites

Astronomy websites also give up to date information about:

  • When the space station and other satellites pass overhead
  • The time and direction of iridium flares, solar flares, aurora bulletins
  • The occurrence of comets and meteor showers

Stargazing Website Resources

Star Charts and Maps

The Clear Sky Chart for Cherry Springs offers cloud-cover forecasts to help you plan for a successful evening of observing the night skies.

Star Gazer Guides and Videos by Jack Horkheimer

Sky and Telescope Website Podcasts