How To Star Gaze
Why does the speaker always tell people to get out of the city?
I'm Robert Massey and I'm here from the Royal Astronomical Society which is one of the biggest astronomical organizations in the world and we look after the interests of astronomers not just in the UK but across the world. What I'm going to do today is give you a few pointers to get you started in astronomy which I think is one of the most incredibly interesting subjects there is. I think almost all of us at some point in our lives are interested in what we can see in the night sky. We might be casually gazing at the stars or perhaps even more advanced using a telescope or a pair of binoculars. But nonetheless, there are some really simple pointers that can help you get started in astronomy, help you start to understand on what's up there. The first thing I always advise people to do is to get out of the city. If you're in a big city like London or New York or LA, the chances are your view of the skies are really compromised by all the lights around you. So, it's much better to leave that city behind, travel out to the countryside at least a few times a year now and again, just to enjoy it yourself. Pick a night when the weather's good and when the moon isn't there and you get a fantastic view and you'll notice that the stars appear to be in different patterns. Now, some of those patterns are completely imaginary but nonetheless, they help us shape the sky into constellations, these imaginary patterns there that have been around for thousands of years. Some of them are actually quite real. You might notice, for example, the Milky Way stretching across the sky from horizon to horizon and that's where there really are a lot more stars but it took the invention of the telescope to understand that. You may also notice on certain times, brighter objects that night by night appear in different places and these are probably planets. So for example, Venus and Jupiter are very very easy to spot and there are also Saturn and Mars as well, nice and straightforward, and clearly you can also see the moon moving across the sky. At certain times of year, you might just be lucky enough to see a meteor shower too, when you see lots of shooting stars filling the sky. So, much of my advice is go out there and enjoy it. Learn a few things about it because it will make your experience that much richer. But other than that, I think it's very much about the pleasure of thinking about how far away the stars are, thinking about what there is in the whole universe and looking at the sky is a great way to try and understand that. .