The night sky is a vast tapestry that covers us for about half of our lives. Surprisingly, for such a prevalent image, very few people can identify anything more than a handful of well known constellations and our satellite, the Moon. While these are elegantly familiar, there is so much more to the stars, which can be found with a small amount of guidance. That is where this column comes in. The cosmos is an inspiring sight and hopefully after a few articles, you too will be able to find the beauty of the universe above you.
So if this is the beginning, what will we need to move on? Depending on how serious you are, there is a wide array of tools that can help to unveil the stars. If you are reading this, you already have the first few: eyes and an inquisitive nature. Most of what this column will cover can be easily seen by the naked eye.
Still, there will surely be objects that can be enhanced by visual aides. If you have a set of binoculars, these will aide your search. Unless you already have a telescope, I would not recommend purchasing one. These can be expensive, and while they are a cool display piece and can help you see a bit further, binoculars should do the trick for just about everything. Also handy will be a planisphere (a basic star chart) and a red flashlight. These can be found cheap online (be sure to get one for star observations in the Northern 40’s for observing at Mines) and will aide you in finding just about anything year round.
While there will be no official stargazing topic this week, I suggest familiarizing yourself with the large fall constellations such as Ursa Major to the north and Sagittarius to the south. Also enjoy the waning Moon that will lead to a new Moon on September 8. Peace, and may the stars shine brightly in your sky.