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The Double-Daring Book for Girls
On any given night, close to five thousand stars are visible. Of that number, perhaps half of them may be seen by the naked eye. If you live in a city or an area with lots of light at night, you may be able to see only two hundred or so at the most. Still, it is possible to observe the stars the way people have since the dawn of time.
All you really need to go stargazing is a pair of eyes, a curious mind, and a dark night. Beyond that, there are just a few other things that you can bring if you have them handy: a pair of binoculars; a star chart, which is a basic map of the stars; and a flashlight, to help you read a star chart in the dark. Covering the light with red plastic is a good way to minimize light-interference while still allowing you to read the chart.
The best place to look for stars is one that is high and far from city lights. A hill, a mountaintop, or even (with your parents' permission) your roof: the higher and closer to the wide-open dark sky, the better. To best see the stars, you will need to let your eyes get used to the dark. Spend about ten minutes in the dark letting your eyes adapt to the lack of light. Once you've done this, you'll be able to see the fainter stars much more easily. Then, look up: With or without your binoculars, you can scan the sky for stars.
The old nursery song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" describes stars as twinkling for a reason: They actually do twinkle. The scientific name for it is "stellar scintillation." Stars appear to be twinkling at us because we see them through the moving air of Earth's atmosphere, whichbends their light and sends it in random directions. Planets, on the other hand, don't twinkle, as they are closer to us and their light has less air to move through.
As for locating the constellations and other stars, a star chart or map is very helpful. One of the best kinds of maps is a planisphere, a kind of portable, configurable star map that can be adjusted for any date and time (and bought at a bookstore). But any star chart, map, or book will do. On every star chart, you will find several things: dots representing the stars, a circle around the stars representing the horizon, and direction markings (north, south, east, and west). The bigger the dots on the map, the brighter the stars. Many of these dots are connected by lines, outlining the constellations and asterisms. The stars, constellations, and asterisms are also labeled with their descriptive or numerical names.The Double-Daring Book for Girls. Copyright (c) by Andrea Buchanan . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.