Outdoor Infrared Heaters Help Amateur Astronomy
Amateur astronomy is terrific fun for the whole family. It's a great learning experience and opportunity to spend time together. Plus, it's convenient as you can practice locally at a campground, park or even in your own backyard!
Many areas have astronomer's societies who accept all skill levels. At the local level, most astronomy clubs practice together and share their discoveries as well as their passion.
Here we have some general information and resources for those interested in some casual stargazing.
One of the biggest misconceptions and artificial hurdles for neophytes who wish to get involved in amateur astronomy is the cost. The good news is that at its most basic level astronomy is free. All that is required in order to be successful is a dark sky. Planets, major stars and constellations are readily visible even on bright nights. Star atlases are widely available online so newcomers can begin to familiarize themselves with some of the closest heavenly bodies. Even though the information can be technical, one doesn't have to understand that to enjoy simply looking.
By the time the light of stars, planets and distant galaxies gets to Earth, it can be very faint. In addition, most metropolitan cities generate what is commonly called light pollution that obscures the night sky. Unfortunately, that isn't the only obstacle you will meet. The humans, the eye is a phenomenally complex organ. Like in photography, when it comes to star gazing, viewers need to minimize the amount of light they directly expose their eyes to so that they remain as sensitive as possible.
Light pollution is very detrimental to stargazing, so here are some tips to aid your efforts to minimize exposure to it:
- Give your eyes some time to adjust to the dark. The more time the better, but at least 15 minutes.
- In the event that you need a light source, try this inexpensive solution for night vision flashlights.
- When going "out in the field" look for darkened areas such as local parks or camp grounds.
- Higher is better when it comes to mountainous or hilly areas.
- If you are in your backyard, turn off as many house and exterior lights as possible.
Getting Involved in Amateur Astronomy
When the time comes to actually invest in this new-found hobby, the least expensive way to get immediate results is to purchase a pair of binoculars. For around $100, you can immensely improve the level of detail with which you can see. Although not powerful enough to see some of the faintest objects, they are the simplest to use, plus they can be used for activities outside of astronomy. Most beginners will choose to stay with binoculars as they can spend years getting acquainted with some of the most visible objects.
Once you reach the point where you wish to graduate and move to an actual telescope, some of the most basic hover around $200-300. The problem here is that, as with most telescopes, they aren't that easy to use and that inaccessibility can be off-putting to some.
At the point you may decide to go whole-hog and actually invest in a professional grade telescope there are many different tiers and accompanying levels of expertise required. Entry level telescopes have additional features to assist budding astronomers, usually that they are motorized to track the movement of objects and have the ability to find said objects for you. Sadly, a telescope such as this can start at around $700-800. If you're still game and wish to commit further, progressively more powerful pieces cost thousands of dollars.
In any event, astronomers old and young alike simply need to be curious and unafraid to ask questions. Get out there and have fun!
- When you are outdoors, be sure to stay warm by dressing appropriately. Especially in the winter, you may need layers of clothing - coat, mittens, hat and scarf.
- Outdoor infrared heaters are another great way to keep warm, any time of year. Choose a model with low light emissions to protect your night vision.
- Especially in the summer months, you'll want to have a good insect repellant with you to ward off nighttime pests.
- If you're going to be outdoors very long, you'll want to be sure to bring some of your favorite food and drinks for refreshment.