The Space & Beyond Blog
Stargazing Packing List for Beginners
What to bring for a night of stargazing
For many backyard astronomers, there is a ritual that comes along with a night of stargazing. Whether you are stargazing in your own backyard, or at a remote dark-sky site, here is a list of stargazing essentails for your next stargazing trip.
1. Friends and Family
Observing the night sky is more fun when you share it with others! Perhaps you could introduce your kids or neighbors to astronomy.
2. Eyepieces and Telescope Accessories
Don’t forget your favorite telescope accessories such as a dew shield, Barlow lens, Moon filter, or nebula filter.
3. Beach Towel
Laying down a beach towel underneath your tripod legs is a great way to easily and safely catch anything if it falls.
Binoculars are a stargazing essentail. They will help you find reference stars that are invisible by eye alone.
5. Red Flashlight
It takes your eyes a while to adapt to darkness, which helps you see finer details through your telescope. Use a red flashlight to provide visibility while your eyes are dark-adapted. You can also deck out your tripod legs with red lights so people don’t trip on them in the dark. And don’t forget red filters for anything that emits light, like your laptop or smartphone screen!
6. White Headlamp for Cleanup
When you’re done observing, a regular white headlamp can help you clean up quickly while keeping your hands free.
7. Laser Pointer
If you’re observing in a group, then a green laser pointer can help you point out objects for everyone to see.
8. Lens Cleaning Tool
Bring a small tool to clean your optics, especially if it may be windy or dusty. Make sure your brush is specifically made for lenses and optical elements.
If your tripod doesn’t have a built-in level, then a simple bubble level is a real time-saver when you’re setting up your tripod!
In case anything goes wrong, a toolbox is good to keep handy for on-the-spot equipment adjustments.
11. Hair Dryer
If moisture or humidity may pose a problem, then a small hair dryer is a great way to zap water off of your optics!
12. Star Maps
Star charts are a stargazing essentail. They will help you navigate the night sky. You can either use a paper star chart or a digital one.
13. Handouts for Beginners
If you’re going to a star party or bringing someone who’s new to observing, then it’s a good idea to have some printed materials covering the basics of astronomy.
14. Protection from Wildlife
If you will be observing in dark-sky locations near bears, mountain lions, and other dangerous wildlife, then make sure you take safety precautions.
Make sure you have enough power for your telescope and other electronic gadgets. A Celestron Power Tank 17 and a few spare batteries should do the trick.
16. Comfortable Chair
Make sure to bring an observing chair that you can sit in comfortably for extended periods. Gardener’s kneepads are also helpful.
17. Heated Clothing
If you plan on stargazing during the winter months, then heated socks, hand warmers, and heat wraps are must-haves.
18. Bug Spray
During summer months, make sure to not leave the house without grabbing some bug spray!
19. Food and Drink
Fuel your observations with the right snacks and beverages.