Bleary-eyed post the Oscars? Take up another type of star-gazing (the better kind!) and don't forget these essential accessories to heighten your experience, says Daisy Cropper
Last week, Wanderlust reported that Wales' Breacon Beacons National Park has officially been listed as a Dark Sky Reserve for the quality of its starry-night skies. Whether you're taking a trip to the Welsh national park to uncover the Milky Way, or heading further afield to watch the universe turn, don't forget these bits of kit to help you on your way.
£0.69, App store
If you're star-gazing without a knowledgeable guide, The Night Sky app is the easiest way to know what you're looking at and when.
Become an instant astronomy expert. Download the app, open it on your device and point it up towards the sky. The device's internal compass, along with the downloaded software will be able to pin-point exactly what you're looking at, whether it's Mercury, Mars or the Moon.
Don't have a device to work this from? Not a problem. Try it the old manual way with this Night Sky Star Wheel. Sometimes the traditional ways are much more fun! An easy explanation on the back of the chart makes it simple for star-gazing novices to pick up the basics.
Be prepared! Take in everything from your viewing of the Milky Way by picking up a few basics beforehand. Author of The Stargazer's Guide Emily Winterburn reckons a stargazer is anyone who's ever found themselves looking at the night sky wanting to know a little more. This beginner's book focuses on the stars rather than astronomy and leads easy step-by-step ways to identify constellations.
A month by month guide will explain what you can see where and when, and in-depth explanations of meteor showers, shooting stars, comets and the moon will help you pick up a bit of background info.
It's good for when the clouds (inevitable, it's Wales) cover the night sky as well.
Whether you're reading or just finding your way, don't forget a good head torch! But remember, when star-gazing your eyes need to adjust to the black skies so don't use it too much, and try not to shine it in other people's faces.
For the clearest nights, winter is the best time to star gaze. But obviously, it's also the coldest. Don't forget a pair of reuseable handwarmers to keep your fingers toasty while you sit back and enjoy the twinkling views.
Small, snug and simple – the handwarmers can be slipped into pockets, will provide heat for up to 20 minutes and can be used again and again.
£59.99, WEX Photographic
Trying to point out a particularly bright star to a fellow gazer?
“That one there!” “Where?” “There!” “To the left a bit...?”
Not a problem with this Sky-Watcher NightStreak Green Laser Pointer. A bit long-winded but simple in its uses. A powerful beam of green light is emitted from the device making it easy to point out sights of interest. Just don't point it at any passing aeroplanes...
This is the best way to keep warm on a cold night star-gazing. Keep a thermos with a hot toddy close by to get you glowing on the inside. This one-litre Thermos Thermocafe Stainless Steel Flask will keep drinks hot for up to eight hours (plenty of observation time), is 'virtually unbreakable' and lightweight if your hiking.
What you put in there is another conundrum entirely. Whiskey, hot water and lemon? Mulled wine? Or a good slug of hot cocoa? The choice is yours...
Sit back and relax in comfort as you survey the Milky Way and night's clear skies. A chair is of up-most importance and with Vango's Malibu Folding Chair from Nomad, there's even a handy insulated holder for your thermos! Easily packable and perfect for camping use this comfy chair time and again.Daisy Cropper learned the basics on a star-gazing trip to South-West Scotland at Glenapp Castle. Find out more here. Follow her adventures on twitter @daisy_cropper