Observing the sky at night is a lot fun. You may go out to stargaze on virtually any day, or you may do so on a special occasion such as a meteor shower. It’s incredibly exciting to gaze at the wonderful celestial events and bodies, regardless of whether you are by yourself or with friends and family.
The important thing to consider is that if you must prepare for such an outdoor excursion. If you forget to pack that important piece of gear, or flashlight, you may simply be unable to watch the stars and the trip may not be as awesome.
To make things easier for you, we have brought together a quick guide on what things you need to pack when heading outdoors for stargazing. This list is not exhaustive, which means you may add more items to the list as per your needs and preferences.
Telescope and accessories
This goes without saying but for many first-timers, this is worth noting. Telescopes, as opposed to binoculars, will give you a far more awesome view of the sky at night. You may choose a telescope by doing your own research or you might ask a more seasoned astronomer to guide you. The viewing experience through many telescopes can be augmented through additional accessories such as moon filters and binoviewers. Make sure you do your homework and pack this gear.
Flashlight serves the simple purpose of letting you see clearly in the dark. Most astronomers stargaze in the open which is often uneven terrain. A flashlight may prove very handy in letting you find an appropriate spot before you settle down to stargaze. When choosing a flashlight, try and find a red one. A red flashlight is great in that when you are using it near your telescope, it may not interfere a lot with your telescope viewing.
Thermal imaging devices are an excellent way of looking in the dark. They are particularly useful if you are going to stargaze in an area where wildlife is expected. A night vision device will help you spot any wildlife in the distance and take any safety measures if required. Such a device will also be a great aid when you are traveling in the dark towards your stargazing spot.
Most nights are at the very least cool, especially in the open. This means that you can expect some degree of moisture or humidity. This won’t be a lot of problem for you but it can build up on the optics you use when watching the sky. The best way to get rid of such moisture without leaving smudges on your optics is a hair dryer. A dryer is quite handy and eliminates the humid build-up in no time, giving you a clean and smooth viewing experience.
If you are watching the sky in a group, you may want to augment the primary telescope with additional viewing equipment such as binoculars. Even if you are on your own and have a telescope, a set of binoculars will give you the opportunity to continue watching the sky more comfortably. Either way, binoculars are a great and handy addition to your stargazing gear.
It’s always useful to have a power backup for your stargazing equipment as well as any smartphones, tablets or other electronics you have with you. You never know when you may need to charge up any of them. Having a power backup gives you peace of mind that in any case, you have a fallback option.
Depending on the weather, you may want to pack a few things to stay comfortable. If you are venturing out on a winter night, you must dress up for the occasion. Wear multiple layers of clothes and keep heat wraps and heated socks at hand. You may also want to build a fire close to your camping site but make sure it does not interfere with your telescope’s view.
If you are going stargazing in summers, you may have to face the bugs in the open. A quick and easy way to keep them away is to use an effective bug spray.
This is stuff you would need outdoors to stay comfortable. One of the most crucial of these is a comfortable chair which you can rest on while stargazing. If you are out with family or friends, a tent or similar structure can help you create just the right party ambience. If you plan to stay outdoors for an extended period, sleeping bags are great to snatch some rest in between your stargazing.
Food is also part of this category. You will naturally a goodly amount of water as well as snacks or other food items to keep your energy levels up. These will help you stay alert and enjoy the experience better.