A good night of astronomy observation requires a good celestial map and anticipating and planning what celestial objects may be seen. If you can, provide a pair of binoculars like those sold at shops specialized in astronomy items, and do not forget to take a pen and paper for notetaking, since it will be necessary to write down everything you observe, as well as the conditions.
For the more enlightened, software where you only have to enter the coordinates and points, as well as modern telescopes will be provided and hence, even more fascinating observation. But for those who do not have much equipment, you can purchase a practical, functional and complete guide to astronomical observation. A simple pair of 7 x 35, lightweight binoculars should do. If you want to focus on a central point, use a tripod to provide support, in a simple but efficient way.
Location of Observation
As already mentioned repeatedly, Chile has the clearest skies on the planet. In a vast area ranging from San Pedro de Atacama in the Second Region to the Choapa and Elqui Valley, in the Fourth Region, we find ideal places for simple and observation instruments. Those observation points to consider are:
- Capricorn Tropic Milestone, north of Antofagasta
- Calama, San Pedro de Atacama and its surroundings:
- Chiu Chiu
- Machuca - The Quirquinchos Slopes
- Tulor Village
- Toconao – The Jerez Brook
- The Monturaqui Crater
From La Serena to the north:
- Tres Cruces
- Camino Cerro La Silla
From La Serena to the south:
- High Romeral
- Ovalle and its interior villages like Recoleta, Sotaqui, Los Molles River Valley
Vicuña - Elqui Valley and surroundings:
- Cerro Mamalluca
- La Campana
- The Pinto Brook
- Monte Grande
- Cochiguaz – Rio Magico
- Pisco Elqui - Horcon
Observation for amateurs
To observe the sky, we must learn and understand the shapes that are formed. These shapes are constellations, and it is essential for the amateur to understand them, just the way we learn the numbers or the alphabet. Once we have studied these shapes, at least the most recognizable ones, we can be oriented in the sky, like someone who is familiar with a road network for traveling.
To start observation with a telescope, it is recommended to chose a shining object like the moon, a main star or planet. Once you have chosen the object, point the telescope toward the sky and focus on the browser. Once the object is “trapped” , fasten the telescope, and you are finally ready to observe through the telescope. Once installed, and ready to observe, certainly, when you place your eye on the eyepiece of the telescope, you will see the object with a fuzzy, or elongated or pointy shape. You have to gently turn the eyepiece holder until you focus the telescope.
We always tend to use binoculars quickly, without considering the precision it requires. We must take into account that the higher the magnification of the lens, the greater the difficulties to find what we are looking for and to maintain the object within the vision field. Also remember, that at higher magnification, higher distortion caused by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere through the telescope.
Another quality, which is interesting, is the measurement of the sky through our hands. This is the best way to quickly calculate distances between celestial objects in sight. Take your own extended arm as reference. A thumb is equal to 2 degrees, while a closed fist and open hand equal to 10 and 20 degrees, respectively. We have these references, taking into account that the moon is half a degree (30'). With these measurements we can easily solve data which does not require exact precision.
Anything else that you should know?
To see an astronomical spectacle as one more astronomy amateur, it is necessary to take with you just what you will need, but also considering that the areas where you can best appreciate these phenomenas are usually in high places and inland valleys, where the cold tends to cause more than some problems.
Thick clothing or coats
Thermos with coffee and / or drinks
Suitable music for the occasion, for an act pleasing to the spiritual body, and above all,
lots of patience