5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night


It’s the bane of every enthusiastic amateur astronomer. You’ve purchased your telescope and set it up during the day. You anxiously watch the sky during the day and it all looks good, the sky is clear. Then the sun sets and the temperature drops and lo and behold the clouds roll in. Now what do you do? Read on for 5 tips on things to do on a cloudy night.

1. Planning a Night of Observing


So the sky has cleared. You rush out eagerly to observe the heavens and all the amazing objects you have read about, but wait a minute the object you were looking forward to seeing doesn’t rise above the horizon till 4am. Whoops you should have spent some time planning your evening.

Knowing what you will be able to observe during the time and date that you are able to observe is crucial to a good rewarding night of observing. Buy or find a good star chart that can tell you what is available to see at your location and at what time you should be able to see them, then make a list of the objects and go observe. A really good beginners book can be found on the link to Amazon on this webpage. Click on the link and have a look at it. Amazon will let you see a few pages inside too. This book is great because it has easy to use star charts and gives a guide of what you can see at different times of the year, how easy they are to see, how to find them and shows you what they should look like in your eyepiece.

2. Read About What you Want to Observe.


One of the best things about astronomy is learning about the objects you are looking at. Knowing about your object is more than being able to show-off to friends and family with your deep knowledge of astronomy. It really brings home the reality of what you are observing. Seeing the Andromeda galaxy for the first time may just appear as a fuzzy smudge in the eyepiece but it transforms into something more magical when you know you are actually looking at an entire galaxy of billions of stars like our own Milky Way with possibly people looking back at you in the Milky Way. The sheer enormousness of the scale involved makes your brain ache trying to make sense of it. Andromeda is about two and a half million light years away, which means if you were travelling at the speed of light it would take you two and half million years to get there. Amazing when you think that the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second or to put it into more context, if you were travelling at the speed of light you could go around planet Earth seven and a half times in one second!


So buy yourself a good book about astronomy, settle down with a warm drink and enjoy learning about the many wonders of the night sky. When the skies clear and you finally get a chance to observe these wonders it will be made so much better when you know what you are looking at.


3. Join a Forum


What better way to share the sights you’ve seen and the experiences you’ve had with like-minded souls on the internet. Many forums are easy to join and warmly welcome newcomers. You can find a wealth of information on just about any problem you are having with the hobby and can ask the community for help if you can’t find the answer you were looking for. There are so many forums to choose from, so which should you join? Try to find one near to where you live as the posts by the community will be more relevant to your observing experience and you never know you may spark new long lasting relationships. Visit the forum and spend some time reading the posts before you join, make sure it is relevant to you and when you’ve found the right one don’t be shy go ahead and make an introduction post so the community know a bit about you and what you want from the hobby. You don’t have to reveal any personal details.


4. Photography


If you have dipped you toes into the bewildering world of Astrophotography a cloudy night is the best time to spend fiddling with the images you have taken. Post processing of photos can be a very involved process and is beyond the scope of this beginner’s guide website. However, many beginners in astronomy are keen to try out astrophotography. There will be a guide for beginners astrophotography soon for those that want to experience this very rewarding part of the hobby.


5. Finally, Spend Time with your Family and Spouse


One of the downsides to astronomy is that you tend to spend a lot of time in the garden in the evening huddled over your telescope. So the final tip for a cloudy night is to spend good quality time with your family or partner. They’ll be so much more understanding when you do go out for a marathon observing session.

Related Posts: Observing

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Back to Beginners guide to Astronomy

Or next:

Part 1. Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy

Part 2. Binoculars or a telescope, which should I buy first?

Part 3. 5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

Part 4. Goto or Not Goto? That is the Question

Part 5. How to Set-up an Astronomy Telescope

Part 6. 8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

Part 7. 10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

Part 8. 5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

Part 9. Which Eyepieces Do I Need?

Part 10. 10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

Part 11: How Can I See Deep Space Objects Better?

Part 12: How Can I See More Detail On Planets?

Part 13: How to Dress for Astronomical Success

Extras: Beginner Astronomy Telescopes

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