Did you see the full moon a few nights back?  I really enjoy the simple things I guess, but the sky was clear and it was full and bright.  I took my telescope outside and focused it on the moon for a quick gaze.  Through a telescope, the full moon is almost blinding.  Well, maybe not that bright but it’s bright.  Stare at it for awhile and then look away into darkness and you’ll see spots.  Anyhow, if you have some sort of magnifying device, the full moon is well worth the look.  It is especially good if you have a tripod or some sort of stand, but even binoculars are cool.  It’s amazing to see the crators and meteor strikes that still look fresh.  Along the edges of the moon are incredibly detailed mountain ranges and all shades of gray.  Besides just looking at the moon, there are lots of other awesome things that can be found in the night sky, if you know where to look.  You can memorize star charts (which isn’t a bad idea, but…) or you can find a program to illustrate the night sky.  I like Starry Night which came free with my telescope.  There is an alternative that requires no purchase and is pretty great.  Stellarium is both popular and powerful.  Besides that, Stellarium is free and easy to use.  It’s also easy to use.  Did I mention, it’s free too?  In a nutshell, it shows the objects in the sky for your location and will plot future locations as well.  You can choose to see illustrations of the consellations or the orbits of the planets, nearby nebulae, etc.  It’s incredible and should make finding objects in the sky much easier.  That was always a huge frustration for me when I started star gazing…where to look.  The other thing is that I never felt like I had enough “fire power” when I pointed a scope at the sky.  I was surely wrong.  On a whim a few years ago, I pointed my spotting scope at the sky…you know, the kind you take to the shooting range or when you go groundhog hunting.  I was able to see the rings of Saturn.  Mind you, Saturn was tiny, but I could clearly see the rings.  It’s also very easy to find and quite amazing to see.  A triod is required but if you have any sort of scope, download Stallarium and find Saturn.  I think you’ll be hooked!

3 thoughts on “Stellarium

  1. We sat out on the deck 2 nights ago watching the full moon and some stars and we noticed that we couldn’t see as many stars at home comparing to when we were camping.

  2. Can your kids find things in the sky yet? Mine get reeeeeally frustrated when I say, for example, “Oh, there’s the Big Dipper!” and then they can’t find it. It’s really hard to explain verbally where to look when the object is so far away. “Just over that big pine tree there,” doesn’t cut it sometimes. We’ll have to try your tips! I can’t believe you saw Saturn’s rings with a hunting scope!

  3. The kids are still not great at finding stuff but with the program, we can overlay art of the constellations and they get a much clearer picture of what they are looking at. It is definitely worth a try!

    YD – I love to visit my parent who live in the boonies in PA. We can see so much from there, compared to here. It’s amazing. That’s where I first saw Saturns rings through the spotting scope

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