How To 

The Best Guide to Backyard Astronomy


There’s no better place to get started with astronomy than in your own backyard. All you have to do is step outside to experience the world in a whole new way. When you want to turn your backyard into an astronomy haven, there are a few key steps to keep in mind to set yourself up for viewing success. Here’s what you need.


1. Find a wide open area with an expansive and unobstructed view of the sky.
Just as in real estate, the key here is location, location, location. Survey every area of your backyard to find the best spot. Where is your view unobstructed? Is there a building to one side that’s too tall, or are there overhanging trees? Which spot is wide open and offers the most expansive view of the sky? It’s best to do this step at night when you can also find out if there are any neighborhood lights in a particular location that make it too difficult to see the brightness of the stars.


2. Create a comfortable setup.
Once you’ve scouted out the perfect location, it’s time to make it comfortable. After all, you’re not just going to stand there looking up for hours. Talk about uncomfortable! Instead, set out a few outdoor chairs and maybe even a side table. If at all possible, try to pick chairs that are adjustable or at the same height as your telescope. If you can sit back and relax while looking at the stars, you’re more likely to get outside more and stay out for longer. Just ensure you don’t install any harsh lights. The less light pollution you have, the better you’ll see.


3. Find or make a flat spot for your telescope.
Your telescope is the most important part of this whole operation, so make sure it has a dedicated spot. Place it in the middle of the location you’ve chosen and, if the ground is uneven, flatten it out. Use either boards or manually move dirt around to make the surface as level as possible. Don’t leave your telescope outside, but create a path from wherever you store it to your “astronomy area” so that you don’t have any trouble moving it back and forth.