There is something truly magical about the night sky.
Whether you’re a spiritual being that believes in star signs and the impact of
the moon, a science enthusiast that longs to know more about the world above
our heads, or just somebody that appreciates natural beauty, astronomy is a
great way to connect with the wider world.
Despite this, astronomy can be an intimidating subject to
learn about. There’s a lot of science behind it, for a start; this can leave a
novice feeling as though they are reading a foreign language. In addition,
there is no shortage of tech and equipment vying for your dollar. How much of
this is actually essential, and how much is simply designed to part enthusiasts
from their hard-earned money?
This guide will discuss all you need to know about
astronomy, and how you can watch the skies from the comfort of your own
backyard. By following our advice, and that of the sources we direct you
toward, you’ll be eligible for NASA in no time at all.
Everybody needs to walk before they can run. Don’t try to
leap straight into astronomy without first learning the basics; you’ll quickly
become overwhelmed. Instead, take a little time to learn the lingo and build
the foundations of your understanding.
- The Physics department of the University
of Toronto offers ten great basic astronomy facts to get anybody started.
Britain’s Manchester University, home to the Jodrell Bank
Observatory, takes the introductions one step further with a free PDF.
- The Khan
Academy is a great resource for all things pertaining to astrology, helping
you understand the many and varied components of the night sky.
- ThoughtCo provides
an article simply entitled Astronomy 101, which will furnish you with all the
basic information you may need.
- Amazing Space
is a great place for younger astronomers to visit, offering classroom-friendly
information and data.
at Night Magazine provides ten basic lessons for learning astronomy.
- To expand your education, why not visit a
Planetarium? The International
Planetarium Society boasts a full database of such attractions.
the Sky will give you an idea of exactly what you’re likely to see from
your location, using tailored information entered into the site.
- EarthSky is a
constantly updated resource, providing real-time updates on what planets and
stars are brightest – and the best locations throughout the United States to
observe the night sky.
- Of course, we cannot ignore such basic but
critical information sources as NASA and Space.com. If either of these sites do not
contain data, it isn’t worth knowing.
Astronomy Equipment and Applications
Once you have a very basic understand of astrology, you can
start to think about investing in the appropriate equipment.
- The Planets
provides a breakdown of the best telescopes, ensuring that you’ll find
something that suits every budget and experience level.
- Astro Backyard
details information on cameras, for anybody keen on taking snapshots of a
particularly beautiful night sky. A smartphone camera will struggle to capture
- If you’re a little more experienced, Cornell
University provides recommendations on equipment for a more advanced
- We Love Weather
provides recommendations for smartphone and tablet apps that will enhance your
Learning More About the Moon, Stars and Planets
Depending on geographic location, how clear the night sky
may be and what equipment is in use, astrologists can identify all kinds of
fascinating sights. Of course, learning the history behind what you’re looking
at means that you’ll enjoy the experience a lot more.
- Nine Planets
is an essential bookmark, packed with information about the moon and all the
planets in our solar system.
- My Moon
is the online home of the Museum of the
Moon, a touring exhibit from a British astronomer.
Geographic dedicates a detailed section of their website to the stars in
the night sky. The Natural
Navigator expands on how you can use the stars to aid your sense of
- Star Date is a great
source of education on star constellations, and how you can find them using a
telescope. The University
provides more information on constellations.
provides data and information on all the planets that share our solar system.
- If you prefer to do your background reading on
the printed page, check out Futurism’s
guide to the best books on backyard stargazing.
If watching the night sky has left you hankering to explore
the stars for yourself, you’ll have to wait a while. Unless you’re a
particularly well-connected millionaire, travel through space isn’t yet an
This doesn’t mean that you cannot prepare yourself, though.
There is a range of sources online that discuss the exploration and discovery of
owned by Elon Musk, shows video footage of space exploration, in addition to
providing regular updates.
- Phys.org provides a
range of updates, explanations and the history of human investigation of space.
Planetary Society regularly update on space missions and exploration,
constantly refreshing their site to prove up-to-the-moment data.
- The Council
on Foreign Relations discusses where the United States stand in the current
‘space race’, explaining what other nations to doing to stake their claim for
an astonishing discovery.
It may have been fifty years since Neil Armstrong famously
took, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” after landing on the
moon, but our fascination shows no sign of calming down. With these resources,
you can remain in the loop, and ahead of the curve of the next huge
Summary of Useful Links
Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information found
within this guide? Don’t worry – we have collated all the links discussed into
one handy summary below.