Star gazing is a wonderful activity and one that often gets forgotten when thinking about nature based outdoor activities. This may be because it must be dark for it to work!
There may be a nervousness of not knowing what you are looking at, not being able to understand the night sky or name anything you can see. This however isn't necessary, what is important is to just to go out and look.
Perhaps one should start with what is meant by star gazing. It is not referred to as star watching or star looking but star gazing. To gaze at the stars.
Verb – look steadily and intently, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought.
Noun – a steady intent look.
This expression gives us permission to simply spend some time looking up, taking it all in, letting our minds wander.
To star gaze it is not necessary to have a telescope or any other equipment. All you need is to go outside on a reasonably clear night. As this is a late in the day or a night time activity it can often be a bit cooler.
It is advisable to wrap up warm, layers are best to trap the heat in and a hat will go a long way to keeping warm.
If you can find a space you will be comfortable in this will help allow you to relax and tune in your senses. Seating is great if you are in one place, or a portable seat if moving around. Something like a sun lounger is ideal if you need some support when reclining your head back.
Star gazing can be a brief activity or last as long as you wish. Even to pop out for five minutes can be hugely restorative.
Because the stars come out at night (or late in the day in winter), it could be an activity that helps to orientate you to the time of day. For some who find it hard to know what is night and day or when it is time to go to bed you could use a nightly star gazing moment to help reaffirm the time of day. If getting outside is too much of a challenge, then turning off the lights inside and looking out of a window should give you the chance to gaze.
If you begin to gaze and find your curiosity is engaged and you want to know more about what is happening up in the night sky, there is plenty of information out there. Many apps have been developed for phones and tablets to help identify what you can see. There are also books and websites which will give you advice on what is happening over the year and what to look out for.
Whether you have a few minutes or much longer, go outside and gaze at the universe. It is a true wonder just outside your door, quietly there every night.