Recently I was up at a family cottage and we did a bit of star gazing. My 14-year old nephew, Gabriel, gave me a tour of the night sky with his new telescope. For the first time I saw the rings of Saturn. It’s hard to wrap your head around how very far away it is, though it’s close, by galactic standards. It was pretty amazing.
If you and your family are into night sky viewing, here are a couple of tools that you might be interested in:
- Gabriel had a neat device for learning about the night sky: The SkyScout Personal Planetarium is a device that looks like a video camera and you hold it up to the stars and look through it. When you spot an object you want to identify, just press a button and it will tell you what you’re seeing. Or, you can choose from a bunch of lists of objects that are visible in the sky (such as planets and stars) and then arrows around the view finder direct you towards it until you have it in sight.
- And for you iPhone and iPad enthusiasts, Starmap Pro is a starmap app that’s been getting good reviews. Check it out.
- SkyNews, a Canadian magazine about astronomy and stargazing, is also a great resource for serious lovers of the night sky. And US-based Sky & Telescope has a weekly guide to the night sky.
Did your family do any star gazing on the long weekend? Did you spot any shooting stars (aside from fireworks, that is!) Post your stories; I’ll send the Klutz Guide to Backyard Stars to the first 10 people to comment on this blog.