These few items go a long way in helping you make the most of your stargazing session:
1. A red head torch
While you should ideally stay dark adapted to see stars, you still need to find your way around at night. A red head torch solves this problem neatly – you can see with the light from it, but it doesn’t hamper your sensitivity to the light from fainter stars and planets. In addition, being able to mount it on your head leaves your hands free to do other things.
2. A warm cap and warm socks
An astronomer once told me that when stargazing, you should dress for a temperature 20 degrees colder than you expect. Although this is a little exaggerated, most people underestimate how cold they can get being outside at night for hours on end. There’s no Sun to warm you or the ground up, so your body heat will escape with even the most gentle breeze. We mostly lose heat through our heads and our feet, so keep warm in a hoodie/beanie and socks, and you’ll be comfortable for much longer.
3. A notebook and pen
Astrojournalling is a great way to keep track of the things you’ve seen in the sky. Make it a point to write and draw what you see, even if it’s a quick, messy scribble. This small act will improve your observing skills over time, and having old notes to look back at is like a bookmark in time for the moments spent outside communing with the night sky.
Most people enjoy the still silence that comes with an observing session, but music can greatly enhance the experience. Your personal taste will dictate what you enjoy best, but if you’re feeling experimental, lots of people recommend ambient space music as a great complement to the serenity of being out in the darkness at night.