No fancy equipment required.

With the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21, everyone’s buzzing about best stargazing practices. But why limit your love for the night sky to just one day? Despite popular belief, stargazing doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby, and it’s easy to get started. We talked to Jonathan Kemp, a telescope specialist at Middlebury College Observatory, for his tips on how to become an amateur stargazer.

1. Make a habit of looking at the night sky regularly.

“You don’t have to have equipment to enjoy the majesty of the cosmos, and many of the wonders of the universe can be enjoyed by simply looking up at night, hopefully from a darker site.”

2. Opt for binoculars, not a telescope.

“A telescope isn’t necessarily the best purchase for a beginner. Binoculars can allow for a great experience that is portable, flexible, and possibly cheaper.” Kemp recommends this guide for choosing the best pair. 

3. Do your research.

“There are many resources, including maps of the night sky for a given latitude during a given month, locations of planets in the night sky, times of International Space Station visible passes, etc," Kemp says. "By looking into these resources, stargazers can better inform themselves about what is visible and when it is visible in the night sky, making their view…a richer and more rewarding experience.”

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