What is the best way to stargaze?
The clear skies of summer make it the perfect time to check out the constellations. Ron DiIulio, director of UNT's planetarium and astronomy observatory, encourages anyone with astronomical enthusiasm to look up to the stars.
"You don't need an expensive telescope," he says. "Just an interest to discover and join the adventure."
DiIulio offers monthly star parties at UNT's Rafes Urban Astronomy Center and produces shows for UNT's Sky Theater planetarium. He recommends these tools for new stargazers.
Choosing a telescope
- A Dobsonian-style scope is low-cost. Its portability and simple design make finding targets easy.
- For backyard stargazing, consider an affordable, large-aperture telescope. Telescope diameter is more important than magnitude. The larger the aperture, the brighter and sharper your targets in the sky.
- Good 8X50 binoculars are a great way to quickly survey the sky and enjoy daytime viewing.
Identifying stars and planets
- Use a guide. Download a sky chart app, such as Google SkyMap, on your phone for a virtual guide through the sky or check out a beginner's astronomy book at telescope.com.
- A clear night offers best results. Choose easy targets. Nebulae and galaxies are faint and difficult to find, so as a beginner concentrate on the moon and planets. A star will typically shimmer or "blink" when viewed with the naked eye, while a planet appears rather bright and very steady.
Join other enthusiasts
- Search the web to find a local club. The Fort Worth Astronomical Society and Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas are two in our area.
- Visit planetariums like UNT's Sky Theater and its Saturday public star talks. See a live sky show or gaze at the sky with experienced stargazers.
- Attend a star party. The Rafes Urban Astronomy Center hosts parties on the first Saturday of every month.