Humans have been star gazing for thousands of years. Stars have a prominent place in old myths and stories, and have been pondered by many leading scientists and philosophers throughout time. Most children are taught about the constellations and the stories behind them.
Star gazing is simply observing the stars in the night sky. There are star gazing clubs, online communities, and websites that help to connect people who enjoy this hobby.It is an activity that can be done any time of the year, and can be enjoyed by couples, families, a group of friends, or alone. There is no special equipment to buy, and it can be done almost anywhere.
All that is needed is a clear night away from the bright lights of a city. It may be helpful, however, to have a star chart or a book about star gazing and the constellations available. Enthusiasts might even purchase a telescope, allowing them to see more distant stars and planets with ease.
There are 88 constellations that can be seen from almost anywhere in the United States, although not all at once. As the Earth moves in its orbit, the placement of the stars in the sky appears to move. The constellations visible in April, for example, may not be visible in September. The zodiac constellations circle through the night sky, one for each month of the year, although several zodiac constellations are able to be seen at any time of the year.
Those who are interested in star gazing probably already have everything they need around their homes. A night of star gazing requires a blanket to lie on or a chair to sit on, a flashlight for reading the star chart, a jacket if the weather is cool, and possibly a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Moonless nights are often the best for viewing stars, as the extra light from the moon makes seeing meteors and far off stars more difficult.
Every year, there are special events that make star gazing even more exciting. Meteor showers happen several times a year, and can be interesting to watch. Lunar eclipses, where the sun casts the Earth's shadow onto the moon, turning it red, happen a few times each year. There are also comets, and times of the year when other planets are highly visible, even without the use of a telescope. Star gazing, with the seasonal changes in constellations and the different events, can be a very exhilarating pastime.