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Stargazing

Stargazing doesn't have one set meaning; it may have more than a billion going all the way back to our ancestors, as Astronomic explains. You are essentially just observing stars, but the purpose changes from one person to another, whether that's looking at colours and shapes, reminding yourself of a person, or another visual or inner meaning.


What can we tell from the stars?


A star consists of hot gasses making up the shape of a big sphere. As you most likely know, the sun is the closest and most important star to us and it is so hot that you would probably burn if you get closer than 152.1 million km to it.


Apart from the sun though, there are many different types of stars. Firstly, almost all stars smaller than the sun are red, and more prominent stars are blue. The colour of a star also tells us what temperature it is. Blue stars are the hottest that die especially quickly since their own gases are so hot they burn their fuel out. Yellow stars are the second hottest star type, and red stars are the coolest of all. Stars are named, coldest to hottest, by the letters M, K, G, F, A, B, O.


Image is courtesy of UniverseToday.


You may wonder why the sun might sometimes appear red, like at sunset and sunrise, if it's so hot? Well, according to The Conversation, it's actually white; at sunset and sunrise, the sun appears red because the light needs to travel through many layers of the atmosphere. These layers contain many different types of particles like dust, giving the illusion of redness because of the moving light.


When a star runs out of its fuel and it comes time for it to say goodbye, it releases its gases, allowing new stars to form.


Elements


The main components of a star are typically the two lightest gases, helium and hydrogen. Stars shine by burning hydrogen into helium in their core, and then proceeding to create heavier gasses. Until you reach iron, stellar nucleosynthesis continues to generate bigger and heavier elements. This is when nuclear fusion occurs; when the stars are forced to be heavier than the light elements. This process causes the stars to heat up and glow because of such intense energy.


ThoughtCo gives the following simplified order for nucleosynthesis:


Carbon + helium = oxygen

Oxygen + helium = neon

Neon + helium = magnesium

Magnesium + helium = silicon

Silicon + helium = sulfur

Sulfur + helium = argon

Argon + helium = calcium

Calcium + helium = titanium

Titanium + helium = chromium

Chromium + helium = iron

Image is courtesy of Quora.



Deuterium tritium fusion. (Shutterstock/OSweetNature)


How to Stargaze


Wildlife X Team International suggests that the best place for stargazing is out of the city where there are not many lights already present and filled with pollution taking away from the beautiful stars. It's also best when the moon isn't showing much moonlight, which is before and after each new moon because it creates light that takes away from the stars. The ideal time would be autumn and spring at midnight because the sky is darkest at those times in which the bright stars shine the most as this famous quote states, "The darkest nights produce the brightest stars” - someone over the rainbow.


Having tools like telescopes, red light, and binoculars can help see them more precisely. You can also download many applications if you would like to see stars digitally, such as SkEye, NASA, SkySafari, Star Rover, Star Walk 2, and much more. I feel some things are better done the old-fashioned way, though, instead of using technology like phones since it makes it harder to see the sky since it's distracting and takes away from the stars. Although the apps help notice constellations better for someone new to stars, it's an excellent place to start or use it before going. Stars do indeed relieve stress and put you in a calm state. It also lets you feel a bit more free, adventurous and gives power to your imagination.


Another amusing thing to do is notice the constellations, which are patterns, this way, you may recognize patterns later. These stars are a safe place to tell your secrets, make your important wishes and they will keep them safe. Get your family and friends to do it with you. It's a tremendous and magical bonding experience that allows you to look into the oldest science in known history. Something that makes looking at stars clearer and trying to get to a higher height, such as a mountain, especially in places where there are high levels of light pollution. Check the weather to make sure there are no clouds out, humidity or precipitation. It is good to use a night sky map to know where the stars, meteor showers, planets shooting stars, and the milky way might be.


Image is courtesy of Vadim Sadovski via Shutterstock.


Image is courtesy of Layde Jane Vickers.



Article Author: Preet Kaur Chohan

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Victoria Huang