Stargazing is becoming an increasingly popular pastime - especially among fans of the BBC series Stargazing LIVE. If you fancy giving it a go in your garden, you'll find it's simple to get started, particularly if you have a summerhouse where you can keep your kit, store extra blankets for when it gets chilly late at night and keep star charts. I've put together a brief introduction to stargazing from your garden below - I hope it helps!
Stargazing - what you can see from the UK in 2013
Studying the night sky in the UK can be pretty enthralling - especially if you choose the night of a meteor shower. That said, I always think it's worth spending a few nights under the stars quite regularly, since this is a great way to get to grips with the various constellations and such.
In fact, these days you can get handy apps for your phone that'll help you locate different constellations and planets, while there are a host of online resources too. These can come in a simple form listing nothing more than key dates in the astronomical calendar, but they can also include detailed star maps.
Later in the year, the Perseid meteor shower will light up August's night sky. In fact, if you're quite new to stargazing and are keen to see some action, this shower is a good one to choose because it usually produces around 60 meteors an hour (by way of comparison, the Lyriad meteor shower delivers around 20 in the same space of time).
How to get started
To start stargazing, you'll need to invest in a telescope or, at the very least, a good pair of binoculars. However, I think having something decent to view the sky with is actually one of the easiest boxes to tick - what I found when I started stargazing is that cold and lack of comfort can easily put you off over time.
I've also found that having something like a shed or, even better, a summerhouse, can be really helpful. Here, you can stash spare deck chairs, extra blankets and cushions, and even equipment. That said, while the summerhouse is a handy place to store creature comforts and star maps, I wouldn't recommend keeping expensive telescopes and other equipment in there on a permanent basis - purely for security reasons.
If you don't have a summerhouse and you're considering buying one, you can click here for some fab examples. The good news is that there are even dinky corner summerhouses for small gardens, so you don't need to have a huge garden to have one.
summer house image source: www.waltons.co.uk