How to Stargaze Comfortably

Stargazing involves spending time outside at night and this doesn't always make for a comfortable experience, no matter how exciting the night skies! However, staying comfortable while stargazing is completely possible with the easy-to-do suggestions offered in this article, so next time the night sky is clear and you plan to go out for stargazing for an hour or more, grab your trusty stargazers' notebook and plan to watch the stars in a relaxed and comfortable way.


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    Watch the weather reports, Forecast the Weather Using Clouds, or log-on NOAA.GOV (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the authority that meteorologists use, and enter your zip code on the main page. Find whether the sky is clear enough to do stargazing, also be aware of the temperature and humidity conditions and prepare adequately with the right clothing, equipment, etc.
    • A forecast for a completely clear, dry night means you'll probably be free of subtle haze. A breeze can mean less pollution near a city, but strong wind can be chilly.
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    Check the phase and rising and setting times of the moon.[1] The light scattered from a bright moon will likely obscure the stars too much for a good stargazing experience. But an early setting or late rising moon may make this moot. Even with the moon, you can see bright things like the planets and bigger meteors in a shower.
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    Choose a suitable location. You can stargaze anywhere provided the sky is clear and there is little light interference. (Some light from each source scatters throughout the atmosphere to interfere with the stars even if you're looking away from the light source.) It's best to head away from cities and large towns to where it is dark enough. Suitable places tend to be on higher hills (there might be some nearby), mountainous areas and desert-like rural areas.[2] So, you'll need some way of getting to a good spot (bike, car, a lift from someone else). Another benefit of these out-of-the-way locations is that they're usually very relaxing.
    • Downtown in a big city, you won't see many stars. (If you see only two or three, they're probably planets.)
    • In suburbs and small cities, you can see constellations.
    • In rural areas without lights in your field of view, you can see the Milky Way.
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    Focus on staying warm. Unless it's a hot summer's night, most outdoor night experiences will come with cool to cold air, and this can put a real dampener on wanting to stay outdoors for too long.
    • For winter or cold weather, the appropriate wear would include: A coat, hat, boots, mittens or gloves, and layers of warm clothing.[3] For heavy-duty cold weather watching, you may also need thermal underwear, long-sleeved thermal t-shirt, thermal socks, a pouch for warming hands, face mask, insulated boots, and hand and foot warmers.[4]
    • For summer or warmer nights, the appropriate wear would include: A jacket or cardigan, long pants, long sleeved shirt, and possibly layers depending on the night temperature.
    • It's a good idea to stargaze from home at first, if possible. That gives you plenty of opportunities to rush back into the house to adjust the warmth of your clothing if needed. You can then use this experience for stargazing trips that take you farther afield.
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    Think safety. When you're out and about at night, there are a few things to be careful about when stargazing, to ensure that your experience remains both safe and comfortable:
    • Your visibility is clearly reduced, so you'll need to have your own source of light. Take along a quality flashlight or a headlight that is able to light up paths, terrain, and show possible snags like tree roots, rocks, etc. if you're heading along a trail to a stargazing spot. You can attach red cellophane to your flashlight to help your eyes adjust better to the darkness or get one that already has a red LED.[5] You can even start this process by wearing sunglasses indoors before leaving, so that there is a gradual reduction of light on your eyes.
    • Depending on where you are, you might also need to take along bug repellent. Remember that some insects like mosquitoes are night feeders, so you can be at higher risk for some diseases if you're stargazing where such insects tend to be found.
    • Know the area where you're stargazing. You're somewhat vulnerable laying around staring nerdily at the sky at night, often with conspicuously expensive gadgets, so be sure that the area is safe. If you're not in your own backyard or on your own property, it is wise to be stargazing with someone else.
    • Take a map if you're headed somewhere you don't normally go to, along hiking trails etc. A guide might also be helpful if you're doing some remote stargazing.
    • Tell someone what you're doing and where you're headed if you're stargazing away from home. Give an estimated time of arrival back home and take along your cell phone. That way, they can keep an eye for you and can follow you up if you don't come back when you said you would. If you're a minor, always tell a parent or responsible adult what you're doing.
    • If you're stargazing near a road or parking area, make sure you're far away enough and conspicuous enough not to get run over by a careless driver. Your car should be well away from traffic too, but you might want it between you and the direction from which danger might come.
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    Consider your bodily comfort. You could simply turn your head up to the sky and stare but do that for too long and your neck will protest mightily! The most comfortable way to stargaze is to lie back and watch the heavens unfold before you; and you can also try sitting and looking up. To enable a more comfortable experience, try the following suggestions:
    • Bring along a folding chair or a reclining lawn chair to sit on. You won't strain your arms if you are stargazing using binoculars, nor your legs from standing too long. You can place a sleeping bag across a lawn chair for both comfort and added warmth.
    • If you wish to sit or lie down on the grass, put out a lined picnic rug to prevent the cold from the ground seeping up. In addition, over this place a padded mat or a blanket. You can also bring along a cushion and sit on it and maybe a blanket to wrap around you.
    • If sitting, place your legs out straight. This will let the blood in the veins flow or else your legs will go numb.
    • Depending on how long you intend to stay outside for, the addition of a propane heater can make your stargazing experience more enjoyable. Be sure to keep it away from the telescope though as the glow and less-dense warm air rising from it (and within your telescope, if that gets warmed too) can distort the view.[6]
    • You'll need to be able to tote your gear with you; get a good day-pack, so that you're not overwhelmed by carrying things.
    • A reclined front seat in an opened convertible is perfect if you're not using a telescope (the car is on springs, so it would wobble). Turn the car off and put on a blanket to stay warm.
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    Take along the right stargazing equipment. Some things will make your stargazing experience a lot more enjoyable if you have them, especially if you want to see more of the stars than what the naked eye can see.
    • Deep-watch the sky using binoculars or a telescope. Do some broad-ranging research on which type of stargazing equipment to sink your money into before buying. You might prefer to borrow a friend's telescope or pair of binoculars and see what you like and don't like first.
    • Bring along a compass to help you find things in the night sky, including reference stars by which to initially orient a "go-to" telescope. Or, better yet, use an automated sky map such as the smartphone application Google Sky Map: the GPS and orientation sensors will automatically choose a map for the direction in which the phone faces.
    • A star chart or map is a wise choice for stargazers – try to find one that is laminated and that glows in the dark as this will be the easiest one to read and handle.
    • A suitable camera for astrophotography if you like. It's relatively easy to photograph the moon or star trails.
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    Prepare drinks and snacks. Comfort definitely involves staying nourished and some warm drinks like hot cocoa, hot tea or coffee, or other favorite drinks are an ideal addition to your pack. Also take along something to nibble on, like energy or snack bars, some homemade cookies or cake, and perhaps some nuts or chocolate. Trail mix is another good option but be careful not to eat too much as you're not exactly hiking!
    • If it's a romantic evening, bring along champagne and truffles! Not too much unless you have a designated driver.
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    Give your eyes a time to adjust. Your eyes need anywhere from five to thirty minutes or so to adjust to the light (or lack of it) in your chosen stargazing spot.[7][8] Set up your spot and simply relax for a few minutes and hopefully by this time, your eyes should be ready to start stargazing. Start anyway, and expect more stars to come into view as your eyes continue to adjust. Enjoy your stargazing – amateur astronomers have just as much chance, if not more chances, of finding amazing new cosmic discoveries as the professional astronomers due to the time and dedication available.[9]
    • If you find it hard to spot faint stars, try using "averted vision". Look just to the side of what you're trying to see. Your peripheral vision is most sensitive to light and dark, making it easier to see faint objects when the rest of the sky appears gray.[10]
    • Consider keeping an observation log of all that you see. This will enable you to make comparisons, find anomalies, and build up a record over time.


  • For better comfort, bring along your pillow or cushion and lie on it.
  • Camping can present fantastic stargazing opportunities; you are already away from lights and civilization, you have comfortable mats and sleeping bags, and likely you'll also have warm clothing. Just beware night animals and bugs! You might even be able to watch from the comfort of your campfire.
  • Consider important times of the year for stargazing. The Perseid meteor shower, at the end of July, is just one example.
  • You might want to bring a tent and watch the stars and in case of a sudden change in weather (such as rain), you have everything inside your tent.
  • Take along some relaxing music and try to find the star formations.
  • Spend some time checking out stargazing websites for information on what to look for in your night sky. The effort you put in before you go will be rewarded with a greater understanding of what you're looking for, and will also ensure that you have a focus in your stargazing exercise. Such websites will help explain phenomena that you discover too.
  • Allow items like binoculars and telescopes time to adjust to the night temperature, otherwise you may receive a blurred view.[11]


  • If you choose to sit on the ground directly, don't remain on the grass too long, as its dampness is not healthy.

Things You'll Need

  • Suitable clothing
  • Stargazing equipment
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Comfortable things to sit and lie on
  • Star/constellation maps

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