What you need to get started

You don’t need an expensive telescope to go stargazing. Just find a place away from street lights and look up on a clear night, and you’ll see more than more than 2,000 stars in our Milky Way with the naked eye. Follow these simple tips for an experience you’ll never forget:

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

Our Top Tips

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.

Viewing

Your eyes are perfect for being able to map the constellations. However, if you want to invest in a pair of binoculars or a telescope, we recommend you buy a pair of 10×50 binoculars or get some further advice from your nearest astronomical society.

Red torches

  • Stargazing is a year-round activity, but the best months are during autumn and winter when the evenings draw in early.

Timing

Stargazing is a year-round activity, but the best months are during autumn and winter when the evenings draw in early.

Astronomy Apps

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, Apple 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

Face north and look up at the night sky. The Plough (or The Big Dipper) is the most easily recognised group of stars in the northern sky and it appears to rotate throughout the year as the earth orbits around the Sun.

The polar-axis of the Earth is always aligned to Polaris (or the North Star or the Pole Star). If you draw an imaginary line between the two stars Merak and Dubhe that form the outer edge of the Plough’s tip and travel five times that distance to locate the Pole Star. If you are facing north, the’ Pole Star’ should be directly in front of you. The Cassiopeia asterism is easily recognised by its distinctive ‘W’ shape formed by five bright stars.

You can get to grips with the main seasonal constellations with our print out and keep star chart.

Download our easy to follow chart – PDF File