At this time of year we get mixed weather but often the skies are clear at night. The stars and the moon and sometimes some of the planets can be seen in the night sky if no clouds are obscuring them. Have you ever thought of having a look to see what you can see on one of these nights? If the night is clear it will mean that it is cold so you will need to wrap up warm when you are outside. It is best to have a hat, gloves and a scarf on and other suitable clothing including appropriate shoes to keep you warm. It is a good idea if you have a flask to make a hot drink to have during your stargazing. A blanket is useful to put over yourself as the temperature begins to drop.
You can start exploring the night sky from your own garden as even in cities and towns stars and groups of stars ( constellations) can be seen. Even if you have a smaller outdoor space you can stand at your front or back door or even put a chair there to make yourself more comfortable. If you have a little more space and you have an exercise mat that you could put on the ground you could lie down and view the whole night sky from there. If you live in a flat try turning the lights off in the room you are in and looking out of the window at the stars. If you are thinking of going elsewhere to view the night sky remember to try to go with someone from your household or tell someone where you are going, how long you will be and when you will be back.
Now you are ready to start stargazing!
Look at the stars. are they lone stars or in groups? What shapes do they make when they are altogether? Are they shining or tinkling or even moving in the sky? If any are moving they could be shooting stars. Perhaps some look closer or brighter than others. Take your time to really notice each individual star and groups of stars. The moon can look different depending on what phase it is in. See if you can see any variations in the moon; maybe some different shades of white or some shadows perhaps. If there are clouds blowing across the sky try to notice which direction they are going. When the clouds pass is the light from the stars and the moon still visible?
Take a moment, relax and enjoy having time to notice the natural world.
When you are ready, slowly get up, then gather your things and head inside to get warmed up. Perhaps you could describe your experience to others and they might like to explore the night sky in a similar way from their garden. You can find out more about the night sky at www.nationaltrust.org.uk – search “Top tips for stargazing”. For more information on astronomy search “BBCFour The sky at night”. Their programmes cover a variety of aspects of astronomy.