Autumn a perfect time for stargazing

WELL, it’s only a few days or so until autumn and boy, don’t our skies sparkle?

I like sky gazing this time of year for one main reason -it’s nice outside.

Not cold enough to dew up the telescope.

You can stay out longer at night and watch as the stars rise higher in the east and move westward over a period of just a few hours.

We also get to see the constellations in a passing parade that goes back millennia.

Astronomy is the oldest of man’s sciences, but it’s also the newest and most of what we know about the Universe now we’ve learned in recent times.

So, why do star constellations matter?

Well, it’s history I guess.

We owe our knowledge of the night sky to ancient races like the Chinese, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans who made patterns out of the stars.

Have you ever stretched out on a blanket at night and talked about the stars and the constellations?

SMARTPHONE STARGAZING: Apps help you identify stars and constellations.

Many of us are familiar with the 12 constellations that define the Zodiac, but there are in fact 88 official constellations.

Strangely, astronomers haven’t created many new constellations for hundreds of years, buttheyare fundamental for any astronomer.

They act as our benchmarks in the night sky as we plot and predict the movement of planets, meteorite showers and comets.

We’ve also used them as a basic navigation system throughout history.

Many recurring meteorite showers are named for constellations from the Perseids to the Geminids.

Do you know where to look? Download an app on your phone called Sky Safari for a real time view of the constellations with some fascinating detail.

All you do is hold your Smartphone or tablet to the sky and it shows you all the constellations, planets and stars from your location.

Google also offers an app for the Android called Google Sky Map that works very well too.

Speaking of stars, where do they all hang out in the daytime?Well they don’t go anywhere, the daylight blots them out. Simple huh?

Did you know? Of the billions of stars, only some 6000 or so are visible to the naked eye and only a handful of the brightest have proper names like Sirius or Betelgeuse.

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