Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stargazer Tricks

Here are some neat stargazing tricks that you can try out:

1. Use RED light. -> red light has lesser strain on your eyes so it is the best color of light you can use to preserve your night vision. Also, most sky maps are designed to be easilly viewed under a red light.

2. Know where you are by finding the north star. -> The north star, polaris can tell you how many degrees you are from the equator. How? Look for Polaris (tail of the little dipper), then determine its angular distance (vertical distance from horizon measured in degrees). The angular distance is the same with your distance in the globe.

3. Recycle to make a quadrant. -> To measure angular distance, an easy tool to use and make is a quadrant. if you buy plastic protractors they usually get broken. Take the broken protractor and take a quarter circle. You can attach this to a piece of cardboard also cut to a quarter circle. Punch a hole in the focus and suspend a weight from the hole. When you view the horizon, look along the 90 deg. line, the weight will fall on the 0 deg. mark giving the 0 deg. angular distance. as you look up the weight slides down giving you the rising angular measurement.

4. Reach for the skies. -> astronomers use arc length to estimate the length of a celestial object. Extend your fist to the sky at arms length. At this distance, your fist length is equal to 10 degrees arc.

Want to share your tricks? email or comment in this blog.