In theory I like to look at the night sky. I even have some binoculars and a telescope just for that.
in theory though because in fact a million things get in the way. Here are some of my ‘reasons’.
For a start, I live in Wellington, New Zealand, where the skies are moderately dark, so that’s good. On the other hand, the wind is notorious:
At Wellington Airport, wind gusts exceeded 60 kmh on 65% of the days in October , compared with an average of 54% of days for a normal October, the [National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research] said.
For my non-metric readers 60 kilometres per hour is around 37 miles per hour, while the 167 kph mentioned below is about 104 mph.
Somehow, too, cloud and rain always turn up if there’s an astronomical event of special interest, though sometimes it’s just cloudy and rainy anyway:
The highest wind gust was 167 km/hr, at Mt Kaukau (Wellington) on 14 October . …
In October 2013, Auckland was the warmest, Christchurch was the coolest, Tauranga was the driest and sunniest, and Wellington was the wettest and cloudiest of the six main centres.
So, how about fine nights? These days I often wake around 4.30 am. By the time it gets dark in the evening I’m just too tired to go out and look at the skies.
Then there’s my eyesight. I started wearing glasses before my teens, so it’s never been perfect. In the last few years though I just see less well than I used to. That adds frustration into the equation. I wrote about some specific problems, that still trouble me, in Flashes, floaters and fog. Both eyes still have floaters that tend to put some blur right where I’m trying to look. It’s most noticeable on fine work, like reading and looking through a telescope eyepiece.
I have a litany of other
reasons too why I seldom actually get out and look at the sky. But for those who can, and do, and would appreciate a bit of help with using binoculars and telescopes these short practical videos from Astronomy and Nature TV are particularly useful.
Getting started with your new binocular:
Getting started with your new astronomy telescope:
These two short videos are part of a whole series of practical tips that should help improve your viewing.
I found these videos thanks to NZ Telescopes from whom I bought my telescope. If you’re in New Zealand and interested in a telescope you may like to check out their site.