Stargazing In Style

Ever since time began, man has looked up in wonder at the night sky with awe and curiosity, even questioning the what and why of our existence!

Sunset in Asti, California
During the summers in Asti, we love the thrill of stargazing late into the night, seeing who is the first to see a shooting star (always Mr. A!) and talk philosophy.

First, we build a fire, but eventually let it burn out if we are to do some serious stargazing.
To stargaze in style, one needs to be bundled up and either laying on a blanket on the grass or prone on a chaise lounge chair.

North Star, Asti, California
We watch for shooting stars and try to name the constellations.  
 Everyone knows the Big Dipper, but what is that yellowish twinkling star on the horizon that appears every night?  And where is the Little Dipper?  The Milky Way?

There's an app for that!
There are lots of apps for stargazing actually for both iPhones and Droids, and many of them are free.
There are so many to choose from.

I have "Star Map" on my phone, and this is what it looks like, pointed toward the sky.
It's very user friendly and it works even in daylight and also when you look down, through the earth to the stars on the other side of the planet!

Looking west in bright twilight
Starting this weekend, through March 24th, the comet Panstarrs can be seen at its best.
On the evening of March 12th, Panstarrs can be seen just 4 degrees to the right of the thin crescent moon.
Get out your binoculars for this one and look west after sunset.

Photo by David Kingham, August 12, 2012, Snowy Range, Wyoming
I'm looking forward to the annual Perseid Meteor shower on August 12th.
Last year, during the Perseids, the moon was in the sky, making it hard to see.
This year, it should be easier with the moon being a couple days before the first quarter and setting earlier in the evening, leaving complete darkness for our viewing pleasure.
These meteors are so thrilling when they leave a large vapor trail across the sky, surely to evoke gasps from everyone gazing to the heavens!

Mark these events on your calendar.
2013 is going to be a great year for stargazing!

Just look up!

"Though my soul may set in darkness,
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars to fondly
to be fearful of the night."
~Sarah Williams
The Old Astronomer

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