Sailing the sea of stars in our skies

Look to the sky: Stargazing can be lots of fun. Credit: ScienceBlogs.

Look to the sky: Stargazing can be lots of fun. Credit: ScienceBlogs.

It’s spring in Australia so welcome to the best skies in the world. Out of the 88 constellations we’ve got the pick of the crop! So, it’s just you, me and the starry night.

Depending on your age and your eyesight, you can see up to about 1500 to 2000 stars on a clear night. Ready? Then let’s go! You’ll need a blanket to sit on, a pair of binoculars, and a pillow.

If you’ve ever wondered how many stars there are in the universe, think about this.

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on every beach in the world. Fantastic isn’t it?

“Ordinary stargazing need not be complicated. If you can find the moon, you're on your way to becoming a backyard astronomer,” said well known Australian astronomer, and writer for Australian Science magazine, Dave Reneke.

“On some nights, the moon can serve as a great locator to help find other objects, including the constellations and planets.”

Once you've found the constellations you can then identify a handful of bright stars, even if you live in a city. The brightest is Sirius, which can be found just to the right of the famous constellation we call the Saucepan rises late and its visible all night long.

You don’t need a telescope to view it – a pair of binoculars will do just fine.

Sirius is 8.6 light-years away, meaning that the light you see tonight took 8.6 years just to get here!  You’ve now learned to look back in time.

Looking at the moon is a sneaky way to look back in time too. Most of the craters are ancient, many having formed more than 3 billion years ago by impacting meteors.

Look also for bright streaks radiating outward from craters. These are formed by material cast out by those impacts. What violence!

Equally as stunning and hard to miss at the moment is Venus shining brilliantly in the western sky just after sunset. Venus was called the ‘goddess of love’ in Roman mythology, but we know it better as the ‘evening star.’ Cool huh? 

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