Guide to the Stars
There’s no need to invest in expensive equipment to begin appreciating the stars. Very often, the naked eye or binoculars suffice. Countless stars, planets, constellations, galaxies and meteors can be seen in the dark sky, but here is some information on three of them.
Orion – The Hunter (© Keith O'Brien)
The Plough (© Keith O'Brien)
Orion – The Hunter
This, it seems, is the easiest galaxy to recognise in Snowdonia during the winter. It was named after the Greek hunter Orion. If you find Orion, it will be easier for you to recognise other stars.
The Plough or the Big Dipper. A group of seven bright stars that form part of the constellation, The Great Bear.
384,000 km away and the brightest satellite in the sky. Allthough we can’t always see it, it impacts our world as its gravitational pull is responsible for the ebb and flow of the sea, twice a day.
Harvest Moon above Cwm Prysor (© Keith O'Brien)
The stars in the southern sky change as the seasons change, but at different times, you can see Orion the Hunter, Gemini, Sirius, the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, the Summer Triangle, Cygnus, our own galaxy, the Milky Way and the square of Pegasus.
The Plough is the most easily recognised group of stars when looking towards the northern sky. You can see it above the horizon and in shape, it looks similar to a saucepan. From the two stars furthest from the ‘handle’ of the saucepan, draw an imaginary line. If you’re lucky enough, this brings you to the North Star. If you are facing this star, you are facing north.
On the other side of the Polaris and the North Star, is the ‘w’ or ‘m’ shaped Cassiopeia. The stars in the northern sky are the same all year round so they can easily be found on a clear night.
You will need ...
Warm clothing, binoculars, borch (with red filter if possible), mobile phone, hat and gloves, sturdy shoes.