We’re part of an amazing Universe. It is made up of billions upon billions of galaxies, each one of them containing many millions or many billions of stars. Our home, planet Earth is orbiting one ordinary star, inside a galaxy called the Milky Way, but from our special vantage point we can look out and view a variety of celestial wonders through binoculars or small telescopes.
Gazing into space is a wonderful thing to do. It not only gives us a sense of perspective of our place in the Universe, it also delivers some beautiful and often mind-boggling sights.
On a clear, dark night we can look up and see the Moon and many of the planets in our own Solar System. Most of the planets are so bright that we can see them without any optical aid, so you don’t actually need a telescope to start out!
Watching the sky soon reveals that we are living on a spinning planet ourselves. We see that the who sky is slowly turning – the very reason why the Sun rises and sets every day, of course. We can watch the stars slowly doing the same graceful movement across the sky.
Over many night or weeks, it becomes apparent that the Moon is orbiting the Earth. Though the Earth’s rotation makes it appear to move from left to right (east to west) on any given night, we see from night to night that its orbit is carrying it in the opposite direction against the starry background.
If we are lucky enough to be observing under a dark sky, without streetlights spoiling the view, we can see how the stars are scattered across the heavens. They are not equally spaced. Some are clustered together and the glowing band that we call the Milky Way is the richest clustering of all because we are looking edge-on through our own Galaxy.
Wonders of Stargazing is a simple guide to help beginners to astronomy to make a start in observing our incredible night sky. As you’ll see, you don’t even need a telescope. Just the eyes alone will be enough to find and follow the planets and to discover how their positions change over time, for example. Enjoy the ride!