Stargazing | Why stargaze?

Stargazing for all ages: A young boy looks to the sky through a telescope. Photo: Dave Reneke.
Stargazing for all ages: A young boy looks to the sky through a telescope. Photo: Dave Reneke.

It’s a fact, people love to stargaze. Whether meteor watching, viewing the moon or simply spotting the space station passing overhead, people love to look at the night sky.

“That’s why amateur astronomers the world over formed astronomy clubs. 

“People love the mysteries of space,” said Dave Reneke, science writer for Australasian Science Magazine.

That was very evident earlier this week when families all across Australia ducked outside after dinner to observe the brilliant full Moon and Jupiter close together.

Reactions at public viewing night were funny too. The Moon got “ooos.” Giant Jupiter, with his cloud bands and circling moons, got loud “awesomes” and the beautiful tapestry of stars high overhead earned “ahs.”

When you look up at the stars, what do you think about? That we may be not be alone? The vastness of it all?

There's a lot to wonder about space and the fact is, we don't know all the answers about it. Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered just how many stars there are in space? This question has fascinated people for ages.

Stars are not scattered, they’re gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies.

Ours is the Milky Way and astronomers estimate it contains at least 100 billion stars, probably more.

There are hundreds of billions of other galaxies out there as well. And these are just the ones we can see!

“The next time you’re out stargazing remember, you’re essentially staring into history,” Dave said.

“The starlight you presently see takes hundreds, thousands and sometimes millions of years before it makes it to Earth.

“Once we tell the kids they’ve time travelled, that they just stepped into the past, they’re hooked.”

The earth you’re standing on is spinning at over 1000 kilometres an hour.  

We’re also moving through space at the rate of 530 kilometres a second. 

In addition, our galaxy is travelling through space at the rate of 305 kilometres per second.  

It sounds crazy but in one minute you are about 19 thousand kilometres away from where you were. Feeling wobbly?