Much to enjoy

There are a lot of dumb notions about stargazing and astronomy. Much of the science seems to be a challenge for the beginner.

The fun and enjoyment of a a dark night sky is accessible even if the moon is the only object you know about. You need not worry about all the strange words and big numbers when you are starting out in Amateur Astronomy. Taking time to pause and ponder the heavens is often best when you are relaxed and able to concentrate.

Its surprising what can be seen just with the naked eye but peering even deeper into the sky with inexpensive binoculars you will appreciate much more. Binoculars are not hard to use and are relatively inexpensive. The aim of any hobby is to have fun and enjoyment. Astronomy is something which can be enjoyed on your own or with friends.

There will be many enthusiastic and congenial friends at your local Astronomy club. Have a chat with the Secretary or Education Officer to see if they can introduce you to a “Coach” or mentor with whom you can enjoy learning about our Viewable sky.

There are many interesting things to learn about our Viewable Sky. Here are ten facts to think about.

(1) When you look at the Andromeda galaxy (which is 2.3 million light years away) the light you are seeing took 2.3 million years to reach you. Thus you are seeing the galaxy as it was 2.3 million years ago.

(2) Light from the sun takes 8 minutes to reach us, thus we see the sun as it was 8 minutes ago.

(3) Jupiter is heavier than all the other planets put together.

(4) Even on the clearest night, the human eye can only see about 3,000 stars. There are an estimated 100,000,000,000 in our galaxy alone!

(5) It’s estimated that the number of stars in the universe is greater than the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world! On a clear night, we can see the equivalent of a handful of sand.

(6) If you could travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) it would take 100,000 years to cross our galaxy!

(7) Only one side of the moon ever faces Earth. The Moon’s period of rotation is exactly the same as it’s period of orbit.

(8) Betelgeuse, the bright star on Orion’s top-left shoulder, is so big that if it was placed where the sun is, it would swallow up Earth, Mars, and Jupiter!

(9) Jupiter acts as a huge vacuum cleaner, attracting and absorbing comets and meteors. Some estimates say that without Jupiter’s gravitational influence the number of massive projectiles hitting Earth would be 10,000 times greater.

(10) Saturn is not the only planet with rings – Neptune has its own ring system.