Star Hopping – A Detailed Guide for Beginners (2020)

Are you stuck on finding the stars or constellations? Star hopping is a technique that will help you to navigate through the sky.

If you are a new astronomer or a beginner, you might be confused by seeing the hundreds of thousands of enlightening points in the sky. You might also be thinking about how you can find a certain constellation like Ursa Major.

Well, if you want to navigate through the sky with a clear view and better understanding, then you should first buy the best telescope for yourself. However, there is also a much simpler way as well, which has been used for thousands of years.

And that simpler way is called Star Hopping.

People these days find the idea of star-hopping rather strange or weird. But the lovers of telescopes and astronomy know that star-hopping is interesting to a much greater extent.

Telescope and Star Hopping

The idea of star-hopping has so much evolved in this modern age. Now you don’t have to find the constellations or pattern of stars with the naked eye. You can easily use your telescope and explore outer space even if you don’t have much knowledge.

You can also make a plan with your friends to see the wounds of the night sky full of stars. With the help of a Go-To telescope, you can explore the different constellations or non-earthly objects in the sky.

No doubt, these telescopes have a large database that contains every information and location of each galaxy and nebula. So, these telescopes are of great importance for star-hopping.

If you see the history of telescopes, you may understand how much advancement scientists have brought to today’s world telescopes.

Importance of Star Hopping Knowledge

I know you might be thinking that why is it necessary to have knowledge about the constellations or maps of the stars? Well, it is completely understandable that you have those advanced telescopes which make it easier for you to find anything in the sky.

However, how can you confidently point at Leo, Gemini, or Ursa Minor if you don’t know about their patterns? So, for confidently pointing out your desired constellation or star, you should have a basic knowledge of Star Hopping.

Explore the Sky Full of Stars

No doubt, star-hopping is really intriguing and fascinating. You don’t have to recognize only the patterns of constellations, but you will have to learn about the colors, names, age, and the distance between the stars.

You will be baffled by knowing that the night sky is an amazing and fascinating mixture of time, history, science, space, and world cultures.

If you learn about all the basics of star-hopping, you can easily amaze your friends by telling them mind-blowing facts about space, stars, and constellations.

Moreover, after learning the basics of star-hopping, you will be able to navigate through the sky by looking at the stars with your naked eyes.

Pre-Star Hopping Arrangements

You can’t just go out with your telescope or binoculars and look for the constellations. You will have to make the proper arrangements before beginning your journey of star-hopping.

Firstly, check out the weather. It won’t be possible for you to observe the stars or constellations if it is cloudy outside. Additionally, it is important to choose a place with a wider view of the sky.

Secondly, you have to bring something to cover-up yourself because it can be cold at night even in the summers.

Then, you should set-up your own star-lounger as well for getting comfortable while star-hopping. You can also use your sun-lounger but in this case, let’s say it a star-lounger.

I know you are really excited to begin your star-hopping journey, but you have some important stuff with you before popping out.

The important stuff that you should have with yourself includes a star chart or atlas, a red torch to see the charts, and of course, you need a torch to not ruining your night vision. Plus, don’t forget a flask of tea or coffee if you are with your friends.

Star Hopping – Plough to Cassiopeia

If you are a beginner, then you should know that you will have to position your star-lounge north-south, and your feet must point towards the north.

This is an ideal position for observing the Plough, the constellation of Cassiopeia, and the North Star. So, don’t forget to sit in the same position as I explained in this guide.

So, Let’s start with finding the Plough.

The Plough

Ursa Major

In simple words, the Plough is a shape that is found in the constellation of Ursa Major, which is also commonly known as the Great Bear. It is a good constellation to start with because it has a recognizable shape.

The good thing is it is always visible in the night sky because it is close to the north pole of the sky.

Navigate from Plough to the Polar Star

Polaris

You can see in the illustration that the two right-hand stars of the Ursa Major or Plough are the Pointers.

The best way to find the Polar Star is by extending an imaginary line between these Pointers out of the Plough, and they will point you towards the Polar Star or Polaris.

Navigating to Ursa Minor

Ursa Minor

Once you find the Polaris, it becomes easier to navigate to Ursa Minor because Polaris is the main star of the Ursa Minor.

You can say that it is the smaller and fainter version of the Ursa Major. Don’t confuse Ursa Minor with Ursa Major (Plough) because of their similar shape.

Finding the Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia

If you continue in the same direction from Plough to Polar Star (Polaris), you will find the stars making a “W” shape. It is the constellation of Cassiopeia.

That’s it; you have successfully observed the constellations present in the north of the sky.

The Verdict

Star Hopping is an art. You will have to get prepared for it properly. You can easily find different constellations and stars using your telescope or binoculars.