What to wear, what to take, and essential advice

This is the essential Beginners Guide to enjoying your stargazing in the Park!

All you need to begin stargazing is your eyes, but you should still plan ahead. The most important thing you can do is get to the darkest place you can find where large swathes of sky are visible. Our Dark Skies Discovery Sites in the Nation Park are perfect!

It takes your eyes up to 20 minutes to completely adjust to the darkness, so avoid looking at bright lights.

Tips to enjoy stargazing

Here are our top tips for enjoying your darkest local skies, whether exploring a town park or somewhere more remote.

Keep warm and comfortable

Wear really warm clothes, hats and gloves and thick-soled shoes or boots. It gets very cold standing around at night, even in summer. Take a chair or a camping mattress to sit on or lie down on. A folding sun lounger is a great idea. Be patient as it can take 20 minutes for your eyes to get used to the darkness. To keep warm, take a thermos flask of soup or a warm drink. Some nibbles are always welcome too.

Equipment

You don’t need always need a telescope. With a good pair of 10 x 50 binoculars you can see the moons of Jupiter and the Andromeda Galaxy! So you don’t reduce your night vision, use a red light torch. You can buy one, or convert your torch by wrapping red acetate over the lens.

Red torches

If you want to be able to see what you’re doing with your binoculars or telescope without reducing the darkness of the sky, you’ll need a red torch. Preserving night vision is important when viewing the stars – you see so much more when your eyes are attuned to low light levels. It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to get adjusted, but white light destroys this in seconds and means you have to start again! In contrast, red light can be used without much of a detrimental effect. A red head torch can make life easier!

Timing

An hour and a half after sunset for the sky to become properly dark – so check your local sunset times.  The Moon is a beautiful sight, changing its shape and position in the sky during the course of a month. But moonlight can make it hard to see the stars – so check your local moon calendar.

Be courteous at all times

Remember to keep noise levels down as most people will be asleep. In remote rural areas loud revving of engines or moving cars around will disrupt the tranquillity.

 

 

Applications

These heavenly Android or iOS apps that will help you appreciate the night sky.

Night Sky (iOS: Free)

Night Sky is a gorgeous app that takes full advantage of iOS 11 to deliver a really nice-looking augmented reality sky map. Users can view thousands of stars, satellites, planets and constellations.

SkyView Free (Android, iOS: Free)

Terminal Eleven’s SkyView  gives you a good idea of what to expect for good all-in-one stargazing and sky guide apps.

Star Walk 2 (Android, iOS: Free)

Vito Technologies’ Star Walk 2 is an augmented reality star chart that displays the stars and planets in the heavens above you. In addition, the app includes detailed information on the history and mythology of the various constellations, stars and planets, as well as a coordinates viewer for easy reference.

Star charts

Get to grips with the main seasonal constellations with our print out and keep star chart. With this simple guide you will be able to navigate your way around the sky at night. Hold the star chart up in front of you when you’re facing the appropriate direction and look at the sky.

Download your star chart