Sky and Telescope has some helpful hints about backyard stargazing, an undertaking that can be challenging in a city in which both light and air pollution tends to obscure the wonders that the night sky has to offer. The main thrust of the advice is to start simple, learn by reading astronomy guidebooks, and then build up to using a good telescope.
First, you should start looking at the night sky with the naked eye, using star charts to identify familiar constellations such as the Big Dipper and the Orion constellation. You’ll be able to identify planets, such as Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in this way.
Check here to see some info on backyard stargazing events!
Next, on the stargazing progression, you should step up to binoculars. Purchase a cheap, easy to use magnifying device and point at any section of the sky you desire. The larger the front lenses the better. When upgrading, high optical quality is also a good idea.
When you are ready, you should then step up to a telescope. Here Sky and Telescope advises not to skimp on expense and avoid the kind of toy refractor telescopes that you might give a child. The telescope should have a large aperture and be portable enough to be easy to use and move around. Try not to get a model that has too many frills, such as a computerized aiming system. Your purpose is to have fun, not mess with a lot of complicated technology.
And fun you will have, whether it is looking at the craters, mountains, and mare of the moon, the four ice moons of Jupiter, or the ever changing features of Mars. Sitting or laying on your back porch and learning about the wonders of stargazing will be a great way to enjoy a clear evening.
For more fun tips about backyard stargazing for families check out the DeckMAX Pinterest boards!