Becoming a Stargazer

stargazing

If you’ve been watching Sora no Manimani, you can’t tell me you haven’t felt at least a slight inclination to go experience stargazing firsthand.

I certainly have. The last time I went stargazing was back when I was in high school taking a special summer program focused on Biotechnology. One of the mandatory (lol?) events was to go stargazing with our professors who all brought their expensive telescopes. The place we went to was a pitch black field somewhere in or near UC Davis. It was a fun experience to see the Moon, other planets, and stars through our own eyes or aided by telescopes.

However, I haven’t thought much about doing it again until recently. I guess the light pollution experienced by living in a major urban area makes the night sky usually quite starless, which saps my motivation.

Many resources for the aspiring stargazer are only a search and click away. You can find sites like the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, which contain lots of helpful information.

But onwards to what I really wanted to share. I want a telescope – which one should I buy? This Telescopes FAQ at The Astronomy Nexus explains and gives wise pointers on purchasing your first telescope. I agree with him on how many people interested in astronomy buy low quality telescopes at department stores, and then lose interest after failing to effectively see the stars with it.

Since I’m interested in how much it would cost me if I were to purchase a decent telescope of my own, I did some research. The best solution I came up with was the Orion StarBlast 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope. Priced at around $220~ and including even a tripod, I was pleasantly surprised at the cost. This telescope has the potential to last a number of years, and you can even upgrade various parts of it as you become more advanced.

orion_starblastIt looks like it should cost $500 or more!

Now that I own a DSLR as well, a major plus to going stargazing would be to take photos of the night sky. Maybe even try some long exposure shots?

Long_Exposure_of_Stars_by_steveroblesImage Source: steverobles on deviantART

On a ending note, you do not need to own a telescope to go stargazing. The only thing you need are your eyes. You can look online for good places to go and maybe even join up with some other people. For those of us in Norcal, I found a list of observing sites at The Astronomy Connection. The amount of observing sites near me was actually quite surprising.

Now what are you waiting for?

8 Comments to “Becoming a Stargazer”

  1. Snark says:

    Holy fuck that last pic looks fantastic!

    But yeah, stargazing was never really my thing, I actually got bored with all the stargazing scenes in Sora no Manimani =P

    [Reply]

  2. Shadow says:

    Sora no Manimani makes stargazing more fun than it actually is. Maybe I just lack in imagination or something, but I’m never able to “see” those constellations like they depict in the anime. It’s just a bunch of dots to me (and I can’t connect them). So although I sit in awe of the number of stars, it gets boring fairly quickly.

    [Reply]

  3. Micchi says:

    I had the same feeling when playing Hoshizora no Memoria. It sure makes stargazing a lot more fun and romantic than it is. The problem is you’ll need to gather people together and look for stars together or it’s a bit boring.

    [Reply]

  4. Reltair says:

    @Snark: Yah, I can’t wait to try some long exposure shots sometime! I’m somewhat neutral about the stargazing scenes.

    @Shadow: Yeah, I find it pretty hard to “see” those constellations as well. When going stargazing, I was planning more of using a telescope to focus on the Moon, some planets if possible, and certain stars.

    @Micchi: Yeah, lots of anime/games make hobbies seem more exciting than they really are. But stargazing could be fun if you gather some friends and go chill outside.

    [Reply]

  5. Yongsoo says:

    http://www.chabotspace.org/visit/telescopeworkshop.asp

    takes 8 months to make a telescope with an 8 inch mirror. lets do it.

    [Reply]

    Reltair Reply:

    Oh, let’s go do it! But you can buy your own telescope with all those work hours required to complete it.

    Why are you online commenting but not on AIM?!

    [Reply]

  6. […] And practical. Posted by omo in Modern Visual Culture with no comments. Trackback link here. […]

  7. łuparki says:

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    [Reply]

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