Stargazing

The Milky Way from Indian Cove Campground

The Milky Way from Indian Cove Campground

© Wally Pacholka/AstroPics.com

It is estimated that only around 10 percent of the population of the United States is able to see the night sky in its natural, unpolluted state. No wonder visitors to Joshua Tree National Park are awed and astounded when they get their first glimpse of the night sky.

Tour the Milky Way
Camping away from city lights gives many of us city dwellers a chance to see the sky as we have never seen it. A great way to introduce someone to the “dark sky” is to tour the Milky Way with binoculars.

Find one of those star clouds and, without taking your gaze away from it, raise your binoculars to your eyes. The cloud will resolve into hundreds of stars, with perhaps smaller clumps and hazy patches in the field of view.

Notice how the Milky Way seems to be very bright and dense to the south near the horizon? You are looking toward the center of our galaxy, where the stars are richest.

To help identify the many objects you will find with binoculars, you will want a star chart. A circular “star finder,” also known as a “planisphere,” will show the location of many celestial objects.

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