What to Bring for a Night of Stargazing: The Ultimate Guide
December 13, 2019
For many amateur astronomers, there is a ritual that comes along with a night of stargazing. You might have a favorite song you like to listen to or a method of assembling your scope to make sure nothing gets lost. We asked our 73K friends on Facebook, "Besides your telescope, what do you like to bring with you for a night of stargazing?" We used your responses to compile the ultimate packing list for your next stargazing trip—whether it’s to a remote dark-sky site or your own backyard.
Eyepieces and Telescope Accessories
Don’t forget your favorite telescope accessories such as a dew shield, Barlow lens, Moon filter, or nebula filter. Celestron employee Kevin K. recommends bino viewers for a 3D observing experience! Most Celestron tripods include an accessory tray so you don’t lose anything.
Beach towel or Blanket
Speaking of accessories, Facebook fan David P. recommends laying down a beach towel underneath your tripod legs. “That way, if something falls, there's a soft place for it to land, and I can find it easier,” he said. You can also use your beach towel or blanket to lie down and watch a meteor shower or scan the Milky Way.
Binoculars are an excellent tool for observing the night sky. David M. recommends his SkyMaster binoculars. Astronomy binoculars like the SkyMaster, Echelon, and Cometron binoculars offer large objective lenses with tremendous light-gathering ability, ideal for astronomical use. For more stable viewing, we recommend mounting your binocular on a tripod.
It takes your eyes a while to adapt to darkness, which helps you see finer details in your telescope. Use a red flashlight to provide visibility while your eyes are dark-adapted. You can also deck out your tripod legs with red lights so that people don't trip on them in the dark. And don’t forget red filters for anything that emits light, like your laptop or smartphone screen.
White headlamp for cleanup
When you’re done observing, a regular white headlamp can help you clean up quickly while keeping your hands free. Thanks to Josh L. for this tip!
If you’re observing in a group, a green laser pointer can help you point out objects for everyone to see. Be careful to obey all laws regarding laser pointers where you live.
Lens cleaning tool
If your tripod doesn't have a built-in level, a simple bubble level is a real time-saver when you’re setting up your tripod.
In case anything goes wrong, James F. keeps a toolbox handy for on-the-spot equipment adjustments.
If moisture or humidity could pose a problem, Michael P. recommends bringing a small hairdryer to zap water off of your optics.
Photo by Marisa Dominello
Star chart or app
Star charts are a great way to navigate the night sky. Some will always prefer a printed version like our SkyMaps or Observer's Map of the Moon. But techies will love the bonus features in our SkyPortal Mobile App for iOS and Android devices. It comes free with every Celestron telescope and includes audio descriptions of over 200 celestial objects.
Handouts for beginners
If you’re going to a crowded public place, people may stop and ask you about what you’re doing. It’s a good idea to have some printed materials on hand covering astronomy basics. Check out our Tools for Beginners for free downloads.
Protection from wildlife
Many of our fans told us they observe in dark-sky locations where bears, mountain lions, and other wildlife could be present. Always take extra safety precautions in places like this.
Make sure you have enough power for your telescope and other electronic gadgets. A Celestron PowerTank Lithium Pro and a few spare batteries should do the trick.
Celestron's Stargazing Playlist
Tunes for your next stargazing night! The right soundtrack makes your observing session unforgettable. We’ve compiled top picks from our employees, fans, and customers around the world in our Spotify playlist and YouTube channel.
- Observing chair or stool that you can sit in comfortably for extended periods
- Gardener’s kneepad
- Tent or sleeping bag for all-night observing sessions, such as meteor showers
- Portable speaker
- Lip balm
- Sketch pad to record what you see through the eyepiece
- Celestron Elements rechargeable hand warmers
- Heat wraps, traditionally used as a treatment for sore muscles—these provide heat for up to 12 hours
- Heated socks
- Long Johns
- Bug spray, especially brands containing DEET
Food and DrinkTen out of ten amateur astronomers agree—the right stargazing snacks and beverages are a must! It seems everyone has a signature observing treat. Below are a few of the most popular suggestions.
- Bottled water
- Coffee – Mark B. brews his own extra-strong Astronomer’s Blend!
- Hot chocolate
- Granola bars
- Peanut M&Ms