As summer gets into swing in the Northern Hemisphere, celebrations like the Fourth of July and Bastille Day call for the time-honored tradition of the backyard barbeque. If you’re already outside with friends and family, it’s also the perfect time to add an astronomy-inspired twist to your festivities: Make it a Star-B-Que.
Inspired by star parties, where amateur astronomers gather to explore the night sky together, you can share astronomy with your friends right from your backyard. Here’s a few tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.
- Plan Ahead: Nothing ruins a night of stargazing like overcast or rainy weather. Keep an eye on the forecast to be sure of a clear sky, and be ready to be flexible with the date.
- Dim the Lights: Bright lights ruin our night vision, so be careful when you turn on your smartphone or go inside the house. Be especially mindful of flash photography!
- Do Your Research: Impress your friends with your space knowledge. Use free resources like the Unistellar app to study your targets beforehand.
- Share the Night: No one wants to fight over the eyepiece. Let friends follow along by connecting their smartphones to your eVscope as you take them on a tour of the night sky.
- Make an Impact: As part of the Unistellar Network, your observations are also opportunities for citizen science. Use your backyard skygazing to contribute to Planetary Defense monitoring and more citizen science activities.
- Plan Your Itinerary: It’s good to have a few special targets in mind for your Star-B-Que. Here’s our suggestions for an hour-long deep-sky tour with your eVscope:
The Fireworks Galaxy (NGC 6946) is a galactic neighbor of our Milky Way. It’s nickname comes from the many supernovae that have exploded in its spiral arms over the past century.
The Dumbbell Nebula (M27) is also known as the Apple Core Nebula, and it’s easy to see this resemblance. Planetary nebulae like this one form from a dying star as it collapses from a red giant to a white dwarf, ejecting its outer layers. Those outer layers, made of gas, expand and form the shape of the nebula.
The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) consists of two galaxies: a large spiral galaxy and its companion, a dwarf galaxy. Their gravity affects each other so much that it is actually changing their shape. In fact, both galaxies are in the process of slowly merging together.
The entire Veil Nebula is a large, diffuse cloud of dust and gas, sweeping across 6 times the length of the full Moon! It’s the remnant of a supernova that exploded 10 to 20 thousand years ago. If you were on Earth when it happened, it would have been visible during the day!
Hercules Globular Cluster
The Hercules Globular Cluster (M13) is home to several hundreds of thousands of stars and is almost as old as the universe! The stars within M13 are so densely packed together that sometimes they collide and form new stars, called blue stragglers.
We encourage you to share your observations and join the conversation through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using the hashtag #UnistellarChallenge!
If you’d like to send us your observations by email, send them to email@example.com.
Clear skies! 🔭