What is Star Gazing?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Humans have been star gazing for thousands of years. Stars have a prominent place in old myths and stories, and have been pondered by many leading scientists and philosophers throughout time. Most children are taught about the constellations and the stories behind them.

A full moon can make star gazing difficult.
A full moon can make star gazing difficult.

Star gazing is simply observing the stars in the night sky. There are star gazing clubs, online communities, and websites that help to connect people who enjoy this hobby.It is an activity that can be done any time of the year, and can be enjoyed by couples, families, a group of friends, or alone. There is no special equipment to buy, and it can be done almost anywhere.

The signs of the zodiac can be found in the night sky throughout the year.
The signs of the zodiac can be found in the night sky throughout the year.

All that is needed is a clear night away from the bright lights of a city. It may be helpful, however, to have a star chart or a book about star gazing and the constellations available. Enthusiasts might even purchase a telescope, allowing them to see more distant stars and planets with ease.

There are 88 constellations that can be seen from almost anywhere in the United States, although not all at once. As the Earth moves in its orbit, the placement of the stars in the sky appears to move. The constellations visible in April, for example, may not be visible in September. The zodiac constellations circle through the night sky, one for each month of the year, although several zodiac constellations are able to be seen at any time of the year.

Those who are interested in star gazing probably already have everything they need around their homes. A night of star gazing requires a blanket to lie on or a chair to sit on, a flashlight for reading the star chart, a jacket if the weather is cool, and possibly a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Moonless nights are often the best for viewing stars, as the extra light from the moon makes seeing meteors and far off stars more difficult.

Every year, there are special events that make star gazing even more exciting. Meteor showers happen several times a year, and can be interesting to watch. Lunar eclipses, where the sun casts the Earth's shadow onto the moon, turning it red, happen a few times each year. There are also comets, and times of the year when other planets are highly visible, even without the use of a telescope. Star gazing, with the seasonal changes in constellations and the different events, can be a very exhilarating pastime.

Astronomy maps usually incorporated fanciful depictions of the constellations before the modern era.
Astronomy maps usually incorporated fanciful depictions of the constellations before the modern era.
Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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Discussion Comments

anon128950

my name is Niki. i have a little girl who is interested in star gazing. she would like to know everything there is about star gazing. Can you send me information about star gazing?

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