Stargazing Basics: Tools, Equipment & Advice

Getting started in stargazing can be daunting. After all there’s a whole universe out there. Here Sky & Telescope editors (with more than 100 years of collective experience) will help you in the very basics. The best place to start is to simply learn the sky with the unaided eye. Our detailed star maps are accurate and easy to read. In no time you’ll know the names of the stars, constellations, and a few fun myths.

If you’d like to dive in deeper, we’ll start you off right with the best binoculars or telescopes for your buck. We’ll then provide tips and tricks for finding and imaging planets and deep sky objects, including star clusters, nebulae, and even distant galaxies. Before long you’ll be set on something that’s more than a hobby but a rewarding life-time journey.

Galileo

Stargazing with Galileo

When Galileo Galilei first turned a telescope to the heavens four centuries ago, he discovered amazing things — and you can follow in his footsteps.

During the spring and summer, the Sun shines down on the readout face, and the shadow falls on the top.

How to Make A Sundial

Sundials are amazingly simple yet effective devices. They range from sticks planted in the ground to precision-machined marvels costing thousands of dollars. The design shown here can be constructed in minutes from materials lying around your house, but it's surprisingly accurate.

Party with the Stars

Want to gaze at the Milky Way all night or peer into the eyepiece of a 12-foot-tall telescope? Then escape the city lights and head for the nearest “star party.”