Here are my favorite astronomy tools for showing Scouts the night sky. Get out and look at the stars the next clear night you are out camping, you don’t have to be an expert or particularly knowledgeable to have a great time finding constellations and doing a little stargazing.
|Simple. inexpensive, waterproof binoculars are great fun for stargazing. I carry the BARSKA 10×25 Compact Waterproof Binocular
The first time you spot the Andromeda galaxy, glimpse the moons of Jupiter, or stare deep into the infinite milky way are profound moments.The next time you are out under the night sky try your binoculars – you’ll be amazed!Beginning stargazers often overlook binoculars, but experienced observers keep them close at hand. Compared to a telescope, binoculars actually have certain advantages. Granted, they’re smaller and give lower magnification. But they’re lighter, much easier to take outside, use, and put away, and less expensive. They also give a much wider view than a telescope does, making celestial objects easier to find. They let you use both eyes, providing surer, more natural views. Moreover, in binoculars everything is right-side up and presented correctly, not upside down and/or mirror-reversed.Binoculars For Astronomy – an article at Sky &Telescope
|The clearly visible beam of light at night makes a powerful green laser pointer an ideal way to point out stars to a group of Scouts. During the day the green dot is bight even in direct sunlight – handy for pointing out distant locations or features on a nature hike. I suppose that it would make an effective signaling device as well. Astronomy Powerful Green Laser Pointer|
|Old School, reliable, a solid reference that’s easy to follow. A thorough, simple and accessible guide to the night sky that won’t bog you down. Find information about the planets, stars, constellations and other sky objects with a minimum of fuss. Skyguide: A Field Guide to the Heavens|
|More for fun than a serious astronomy tool, great way to learn the constellations. Night Sky Playing Cards|
|Star Walk is my favorite astronomy app, there are dozens out there Star Walk AP on Itunes|
|Google Sky Maps is a free Android application – Point your phone at the sky, and Google Sky Map will show the stars, planets, constellations, and more to help you identify the celestial objects in view. Pretty darn miraculous. Free from Google Mobile|
|Sky and Telescope is the granddaddy of astronomy websites. I have found the following tools to be very useful in preparing for our weekend observing sessions:
|Earth & Sky A two or three minute daily science radio broadcast that includes plenty of observing hints as well as other non-astronomical information. Get their podcast feed and listen to daily installments on the web.The Earth & Sky Skywatch Center features printable charts and information to enhance your observations.|
The generous folks at Skymaps create a free down loadable sky map every month – a fantastic resource for setting up your observing sessions. They also offer poster sized maps, books and other observer’s tools.
|Check out my infographic on Finding the North Star|