Anyone can explore the wonders and beauty that space and the universe have to offer. You don’t have to be a scientist, but you can use the tools that they recommend. With most of us still stuck at home due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there is no better time to get into the world of space exploration. There are a plethora of things to explore, for both kids and adults alike.
Here are 5 tools recommended by scientists to help you explore the vast universe.
If you are new to the astronomy world, then choosing the right telescope for you can be a hard decision to make. There will be lots of confusing terms and phrases, but to save you from getting lost in a sea of astronomical words, visit American Eclipse USA to help narrow down your options. They have taken the time to review several options of telescopes and have broken them down into levels of experience and pricing. If you are a beginner, then you will choose between the four following kinds of telescopes: reflectors, refractors, hybrid and Dobsonian. A good quality telescope is your ticket to exploring and uncovering all kinds of magnificent views in space. So, do yourself a favour and avoid buying cheap telescopes as these are likely to have fragile hardware and poor options that will prevent you from experiencing the true beauties of the sky.
Another tool that scientists recommend to check out is astronomy-specific binoculars. This is a good way to start if you are an amateur astronomer as they tend to be small, portable and a bit easier to use compared to certain astronomy telescopes. There are plenty of good quality, yet affordable options out there that help reveal incredible sights to the naked eye. Most astronomy binoculars will use Porro prisms as opposed to roof prisms which are used in sport-focused binoculars. Ensure that you buy something relatively lightweight, otherwise holding up the binoculars for long periods of time will get tiring and difficult a lot quicker. The other bonus of buying binoculars is that they are multi-purpose and you can use this for bird watching, people-watching and in the theatre.
NASA’s “Spacecraft AR” app
We live in such a technologically advanced world and so it comes as no surprise that there are plenty of mobile applications that have been designed to help you explore the wonders of space right at your fingertips. No matter where you are in the world, you can be sitting on a sofa with a cup of tea and learning about all things space. The Nasa Spacecraft AR app brings the universe to you as you get access to over 19,000 images, endless videos on-demand, NASA TV, podcasts, feature stories, ISS sighting opportunities and tracking, and a Solar System Exploration feature. Stay up to date on all the latest missions as users can view the app in Augmented Reality (this allows you to place the model on a flat surface such as a table) and in regular object mode. You might think something as useful and cool as this will be costly, but the best part is that the NASA app is available free of charge. So if you are an aspiring astronomer who’s working on a tight budget then this app is the one for you.
One way to explore the universe and the night sky is to go stargazing! It is a magical way to feel connected to space and it allows anyone and everyone to experience the natural beauties of the world above us. The optimal time to stargaze is right before a full moon, so keep up to date with the phases of the moon before you head out. Constellations are continuously changing, and so you might benefit from downloading apps such as Star Walk or Google Sky as these apps can tell you what stars are visible from your location. This is another inexpensive method of exploring the universe as you don’t even need to have a telescope or binocular to enjoy the views, as you will be able to see certain movements and constellations with the naked eye.
Stargazing is fun for everyone, and if you have a family you could consider making it a regular family event. Get lots of blankets, pillows and warm clothes to make everyone comfortable and cosy. You can also dish out the hot chocolate while telling tales of space exploration.
Google Maps Space
While everybody knows about Google Maps, not a lot of people are aware that Google Maps Space exists. Pluto is over 4.6 billion miles away, but with the help of Google Maps Space, you can explore it from the comfort of your own home. You can explore and travel through planets and moons including, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and more! You can also visit Saturn’s natural satellites such as Enceladus or Dione. This is a magnificent feature as everyone can have access to a wealth of informative data and stunning sights that once upon a time we could only dream of. No matter how old you are, Google Maps Space is an incredible tool and one that is exciting and easy to use. If you have children, you can put them on the space maps and let them have free reign. You can guarantee that they will be entertained for hours on end as they get to explore space right from their bedroom.
The universe around us is so vast and complex that it is natural for us to have a curiosity about what goes on above us. Exploring space is no longer an exclusive experience to astronauts. With advancements in technology, we have seen immense growth in the accessibility of tools to help the ordinary person explore space. There is no time like the present, so check out some of the tools listed above and get exploring! Your astronomical journey will be even more fun if you do it alongside friends and family.