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Stargazing

Have you every looked up at the sky at night and thought it was twinkling?  Follow our top tips below to make the most of stargazing when you are at our campsite at Loch Lomond or from outside your own house.

Stargazing tips

  • Stargazing is best done before the moon is full, so check the phase of the moon before you start.
  • Turn off all the lights in the campsite and buildings to reduce light pollution.
  • The night sky is constantly changing, depending on the time of year and the time of night. Try stargazing at different times in the year to spot seasonal constellations.
  • You could download an app like Star Walk (iPhone) or Google Sky (android) to your mobile device, and they will tell you what stars you can see from your current location.

What you’ll need

  • A blanket or camping mat to lie on.
  • Food, drink and warm clothes to keep everyone happy and warm as you wait for the stars to come out. Hot chocolate and marshmallows afterwards is always good!
  • A star spotter guide and a compass to help you find a particular constellation or star.
  • Your camera to capture the wonder of the stars!

Astrophotography

Can you believe the first photo of an astronomical object was taken back in 1840 using a reflective telescope – but nowadays you can use a camera, smartphone or tablet to capture the amazing things you see in the sky. Why not try out some Astrophotography while at the campsite or from outside your own home?  There are lots of hints and tips from RAS which you can use or check out this video 

What to look out for

The Sun

  • This is our nearest star, and if you hollowed out the Sun you could fit nearly one million Earths inside it. But never look directly at the sun through a camera, telescope or binoculars. You will damage your eyes, and may even suffer permanent blindness if you do. You can make a simple pinhole viewer to project the image of the sun.

The Moon

  • All of the world’s oceans are controlled by the moon, it is the reason we have high and low tides. Only 12 people have ever set foot on the moon but because there is no wind, if you visited it today you would still see their footprints.
  • The moon isn’t a perfect sphere, it’s got craters and bumpy edges.

Stars & Constellations 

  • When you see the stars you are looking into the past. Because light takes time to travel and stars are many light years away from us you could be seeing a star that doesn’t even exist anymore. Have you heard of Cassiopeia or Cepheus constellation?  Read all about it here if you are a Rainbow or here for Brownies 

While you are checking the terrestrial weather, you may also want to check the solar weather to see if there is a chance of Aurora for your star party.  This can be checked at the NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Centre.

Challenge badges

If you would like to find out more about the night sky and space, we created this fun challenge with our friends at the Royal Astronomical Society. You can find lots of great things about stargazing with our extra information sheet, or about space and the night sky on their website.

Try Girlguiding Scotland’s challenge Out and About in the Dark for lots of fun activities and earn a  badge too!

Have fun and don’t forget to post your Stargazing pictures on our Facebook page

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