Stargazing Basics

Complete beginner to astronomy?  Want to learn the stars and constellations?  Or wish you just knew how to get around the night sky?  You have come to the right place.  These "Stargazing Basics" videos by Eyes on the Sky take the budding amateur astronomer through all the basics of stargazing, quickly and easily.  

These videos follow a proven formula I have developed over the past few years, and teach regularly at informal education presentations about astronomy, with excellent beginner results.  You will learn where the important locations in the sky are, how to understand the differences in the brightness of stars and planets, and finally, how to get a better sense of measuring from objects you can identify to ones you wish to find.  

And after getting acquainted with the night sky, you may be interested in learning about Telescope Basics or what binoculars are good options for observing.

NOTE: All three astronomy / stargazing videos on this page are closed-captioned, and can be translated into 58 different languages for viewing by many different viewers, including those who are hearing-impaired.

Getting oriented in the night sky

First up is how to get oriented in the night sky.  Quickly and easily learn the concepts of the meridian, zenith, ecliptic, celestial poles, celestial sphere, celestial equator, right ascension and declination.


Understanding magnitudes

The second video in this series explores how to understand the magnitude scale, starting with visible stars in the naked eye range, going up in brightness to understand the relative brightness of bright planets such as Venus and Jupiter and then the full Moon and Sun, and then heading back down the magnitude scale (but UP in numbers - all explained!) to dimmer objects.  In addition to visual magnitude, absolute magnitude, integrated magnitude and surface brightness are covered.


Measuring distance in the sky

And finally, how to measure distance in the sky.  It's easy to find bright stars in the sky - those are visible even from brightly lit cities.  But how do you find dimmer stars that are not visible, or how do you determine how large a constellation is, or whether you are looking at Canis Major or Canis Minor?  This video takes the viewer from the widest possible angular measurements one could see all the way down to 1 degree measurements - all with the simple tool of your hand on your outstretched arm.  The etymology of the word "astronomy" is "star arrangement," so  this video really guides the viewer towards the true meaning of "Astronomy made easy!" because you will be able to find the arrangement of the stars with ease now!

Ready for a telescope?  No problem!  Check out Telescope Basics now, or what binoculars are good options for observing.