Top 5 Tips for Stargazing in Door County

  1. The easiest and most convenient way to view a ‘magnified’ night sky is with a simple pair of hand binoculars. Good sizes include: 7 x 50  Magnification  7,  Objective Lens Diameter  50 mm; 8 x 56  Magnification  8,  Objective Lens Diameter  56 mm; 10 x 63 Magnification 10, Objective Lens Diameter  63 mm. Binoculars with a range bigger than this would tire your arms and are difficult to hold steady.  At that point, it would be necessary to mount the binoculars on a tripod.  Also, choose binoculars with high quality optics having multi-coated, high index lenses (Thank you to Tom Minahan of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society).
  1. It’s entirely possible to see many constellations with your bare eyes. It’s essential to find a dark place, a good hour after sunset, away from headlights, streetlamps and even your own flashlight.  Each time your eyes see some human-created light, it takes a while for them to readjust.  Using a red-colored flashlight lens (while consulting your star maps) prevents this.
  1. Unless you want a good crick in your neck, be prepared to lie back while gazing skyward. I get decked out in everything from wool socks to snowpants for stargazing in comfort in the wintertime.
  1. As seasons change on Earth and our planet spins about, different constellations come into view. All of them ‘rotate’ (we are actually moving, not the stars) around Polaris, the North Star, which is also conveniently known as the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.  You can download and print skymaps for each month on Skymaps.com.  You can also use IPhone Apps to point at the sky and lock in constellations to study.
  1. It’s helpful to learn constellations adjacent to ones you’ve already mastered. Sometimes, for example, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Andromeda, Perseus and Cetus are all close together as well as being connected by mythology. Cassiopeia was forced to sacrifice her (and Cepheus’) daughter to a sea monster, to appease Juno, after she had declared herself to be the most beautiful goddess; fortunately, Perseus flies by in time to kill off the sea monster and, of course, marry Andromeda, what else!?  Stars can be addicting!!