Eclipse over. What next?
An eclipse is an amazing experience. It leaves you breathless and amazed at how the sky can be so beautiful. If you are wondering what to do next we have some ideas for you.
It’s easy for real life to quickly overtake an incredible experience. It’s like going back to work after a vacation, you are relaxed for a while, you talk about your break with your workmates and then, suddenly, work is work again and your vacation becomes a dim memory very quickly.
After I've been on vacation I have to work hard to keep my holiday breaks present with me for a longer time. I deliberately look at photos to remind me of the experience, I talk about it with people when I get the chance, especially the people I traveled with. I start thinking about what I will do next time I have an opportunity to get away.
The great thing about a Solar Eclipse is that it gives you a taste of the amazing sky above our heads – and you can experience its awesomeness every day and every night (weather permitting)
At Our Wide Sky it is our mission to make the wide sky as accessible as possible for everyone. Astronomy for all of us.
Seeing an eclipse is a great way to find your way into astronomy. One of the solar system’s most amazing sights can keep you inspired for a long time.
Here are some ideas on what to do next.
Start an astronomy journal
You might call it a stargazing log, or an observer’s record.
All you need is a way to record your observations. You could use an app like Evernote, or Onenote, or any of the hundreds of note taking apps. Perhaps a simple exercise book is all you need, or something more special, like the journals at the end of this post.
My first astronomy journal was a cheap diary. I used it to predict the events in the sky so that I didn’t miss anything. I’ve also used a sketchbook, and I’ve turned some of my thoughts into Blog Posts.
It might be as simple as “August 21. Partial Solar Eclipse. Totality. Madras OR.” Or it could be an essay on what you saw and how it made you feel. Sketching what you see is a really powerful way of remembering it. It might not be a great picture, but it will help you remember what you saw.
Remember that your journal is just for you, and you can choose to share it if you want, so it doesn’t have to be brilliant for everyone. The most important part of your journal is to keep it going.
We are fortunate to live in a time where there is so much information available for free. When it comes to learning, money is no longer the biggest limitation, it is time.
Here are some great places to start learning about astronomy.
Our Wide Sky is developing courses and content to teach you about astronomy. The Wide Sky Update will teach you something new every fortnight, and help you find your way around the sky. Sign up using the form on this page.
It won't take you long to discover what interests you most. You might become fascinated by stars, or just by our own star. Planets might capture your attention, or the moon. There are plenty of options that don’t need anything but a view of the sky and your own eyes.
Include your learning in your journal, and you’ll start to discover what kind of astronomy you love to do.
The Solar Eclipse was a massive event, involving travel, safety advice, precision timing, traffic jams, weather reports and more, but not every astronomical event is such a big deal. After all, the sun rises and sets every day, and so does the Moon. When the sun sets stars and planets show themselves and you can do astronomy every night.
Keep up with what is going on in the sky and look out for special events such as:
- Meteor showers
- ISS passing over your location
- Conjunctions (when one celestial object is near another)
- Moon events such as supermoons and lunar eclipses.
- Planetary events such as when a planet is closest to earth in its orbit. This means it will be bright in the sky.
Astronomy can be a lonely pastime. Heading out in the dark of night to observe might not be the way your friends and family want to spend their evenings. Finding like minded people can make a big difference. You can learn from the experience of others; discover tips and tricks for the kind of observing you do. And best of all you can get to see through other people’s telescopes.
Join your local astronomy club, or look out for free community events focusing on astronomy. There are online groups to help you with your observing. Our Wide Sky is planning a community of amateur astronomers, this will happen as our following increases. You can help by sharing this article and subscribing using the form on this page.
Astronomy is an amazing hobby with many levels. Starting with naked eye observing, right through to taking amazing astrophotographs of faint galaxies, and monitoring variable stars. It is as simple or as complex as you want to make it.
In our cosmic backyard and there is a lot to see. The neighbourhood of our Solar System and the wider area of the Milky Way and beyond will keep you looking up for a lifetime.
Be an Eclipse Chaser
Eclipses create eclipse chasers. You’ll want to go to the next ones, and plan them all in advance. If you have the opportunity you absolutely should. Not everyone can afford to travel to eclipses, but following them is increasingly easy.
I wasn’t able to make it to the US for this eclipse. The eclipse was an amazing event, the images have been stunning, and the stories shared on social media of how extraordinary it was, made it feel as though I could experience it from afar.