Stargazing Tips: The best way to get a nighttime view

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As beautiful as the surrounding space may be, the sparkling galaxy in the foreground of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope undeniably steals the show. This spotlight-hogging galaxy, seen set against a backdrop of more distant galaxies of all shapes and sizes, is known as PGC 29388. Although it dominates in this image, this galaxy is a small player on the cosmic stage, and is known as a dwarf elliptical galaxy. As the “dwarf” moniker suggests, the galaxy is on the smaller side, and boasts a “mere” 100 million to a few billion stars — a very small number indeed when compared to the Milky Way’s population of around 250 to 400 billion stellar residents.

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – As the Neowise comet slowly fades from view, do not let your new passion for stargazing go away. There will always plenty of opportunities to get a show that is always free.

Star gazing has been around forever. Literally. This timeless activity is great to get away from the normal day-to-day activity and relax. There are some good practices though if you really want to soak in distant stars, planets, constellations, or anything else that may be over our head. Here is a list of a few of them.

  1. Check the Forecast
  2. Check the moon cycle
    • A bright full moon can squash stargazing opportunities. Make sure to see exactly where it is in the sky when you plan to go out as well as the cycle it will be in that night. Moon phases here.
  3. Get away from light pollution.
    • Probably the most important point, light pollution will make stargazing difficult if not impossible. It starts with your home and, for example, a porch light.
    • Move away from local towns or cities. This light pollution can be seen for miles and will drown out at least a portion of the night sky, if not all of it when too close.
    • Move away from a roadway. Car headlights count as light pollution.
  4. Let your eyes adjust.
    • Ignore your cell phone. This one can be tough, but it is important to allow for your eyes to open up and let more light in as you look into the darkness of the night sky.
    • If you don’t see anything initially, keep looking and wait a few minutes. Then wait a few more minutes. It may take up to ten minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the night sky.
  5. Bring a telescope or binoculars
    1. Your opportunity to see more of the sky increases significantly with just binoculars, but it does even more with a telescope.
  6. Find something to see
    1. While just looking off into the distance can be nice, it can also be nice to go with a goal. Use this NASA site to get a glimpse at what’s up.

A few good places to go star gazing in Western New York:

  1. Lake Ontario shoreline
  2. Webster Park
  3. Mendon Ponds Park
  4. Anywhere outside of Monroe County
  5. Finger Lakes
  6. Your backyard. Enjoy!

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