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.

Cone of zodiacal light stretching into the sky from behind a dark silhouette of evergreen trees.

Zodiacal Light – Captivated by Comet Dust

October's a perfect time to see the zodiacal light, a tapering tower of comet dust standing high in the eastern sky before dawn. Here's how to find it. Wednesday morning, 5:30 a.m. I'm driving too fast down a country road in search of a clear sky to watch the total lunar eclipse. Totality is underway, but clouds...

ISS slips into shadow over Iowa

Watch a Sunset with the ISS Astronauts

See a space station sunset with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Beginning this week and continuing through late October, the International Space Station (ISS) will makes passes over much of the United States, Canada, and Europe during convenient evening viewing hours. Why not get out for a look before the bite of winter arrives? A typical...

Crescent cradles the 'old moon'

Earthshine, the Moon’s Darker Side

With a subtle beauty all its own, the earthshine we see glowing in the lunar night invites us to consider Earth's many connections to the Moon This week's crescent Moon offers more than two horns to hang your hat on. Take a close look, and you'll see an entire circle of moonlight. Sunlight illuminates...

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.