Stargazing with David Reneke

Look up: Stargazing is fun and lets you escape the troubles of the world for awhile. Credit: D. Reneke.
Look up: Stargazing is fun and lets you escape the troubles of the world for awhile. Credit: D. Reneke.

Do you read your stars? Do you follow their advice? If so you’re into astrology, not astronomy. A lot of people get these two terms mixed up and it’s easy to do when you think that they both have their origins in the stars overhead.

Astronomy is a science that deals in factual observation, the study of the heavens and how we got here. The two don‘t readily get along. Not many people realize this but astronomers don’t peer though telescopes anymore, it’s all done remotely from air conditioned rooms. How times have changed!

Amateur astronomers on the other hand still haul their scopes out in to the sticks, often travelling for hours to find pristine dark skies. “They know what’s up there and have been responsible for several important discoveries in the past few years,” said Dave Reneke from Australasian Science magazine.

“One day an amateur astronomer may be the first one to warn us of an approaching asteroid on a collision course with earth, if one’s out there.”

OK all you budding sky watchers, grab your telescopes. What you’re about to read might give you an uncontrollable urge to dash outside. Take a peek around before sunrise and look east, you’ll see brilliant red ‘starlike’ object blazing brightly above the horizon. That’s the red planet Mars!

It will continue beaming in the morning twilight till after all stars have been washed from the sky. Grab your smartphone, hold it steady and see what your  pic looks like. “If you miss it don’t sweat, it’ll still be there for a couple more weeks,” Dave said.

Standing outdoors, mesmerized by our amazing night sky on a warm summer’s night or early morning, you might just forget all about the political dramas going on for awhile.

At least the stars make sense. Only the full Moon and Venus are the brightest objects in the night sky this week.

Here’s a cool tip, go and download an amazing phone app called ‘Sky View. “It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever used in astronomy, Simply point to anything in the night sky and it will tell you what it is.” Dave said.

“Ask and it will find planets, stars and constellations for you in a matter of moments, plus it’s got tons of interesting facts and figures on astronomy.”

Want some more free stuff? Head on over to Dave’s website and download a whole range of free fact sheets and free e-books on astronomy. Happy stargazing.