Greg Quicke is a seasoned expert in the field of astronomy. His lifelong passion for stargazing, which often involves sleeping under the open skies in a swag, has earned him the affectionate moniker ‘Space Gandalf.’
Hailing from Broome, Western Australia, Greg not only indulges in his celestial hobbies but also conducts captivating astronomy tours. We caught up with Greg to gain insight into the world of astronomy and to discover the must-see celestial spectacles to enjoy while pursuing this captivating pastime.
Before you get into the nitty-gritty, Greg says it’s as simple as lying on your back outside.
“My top tip is to go outside and lie on your back under [the] sky,” he advises. “And it will capture you — it’s as simple as that.”
If you’re thinking about purchasing a telescope, Greg recommends investing in a good pair of binoculars first, saying they’re fantastic for stargazing. He says the next step is getting yourself a star chart or planisphere, a simple hand-held device that shows a map of which stars are visible in the night sky at a particular time.
“You can get more serious about it, and [buy] yourself a star chart and get to learn some of the names of those stars,” Greg explains.
“After a while, you’ll figure out that not all of them are stars, some of them are planets and then you can figure out how to find [those] planets.”
As a general rule of thumb, Greg says if you ever notice a super bright light next to the moon, it’s most likely a planet. He says there’s also a number of apps and astronomy books out there that can tell you all about the big space events that have happened or are going to happen.
But you don’t have to wait for a special celestial event to catch a glimpse of the next must-see space event, Greg reckons there’s always something incredible to see, adding that, “People sometimes ask me… ‘when’s the best night to come?’ and I’ll go ‘tonight’ because every single night there [are] amazing things going on that will just blow your mind.”
You also don’t have to drive all the way to the outback to get a good look either! While a long stretch of dark road is ideal, he says all you need is a darkened corner in your backyard that’s free of any outdoor lighting.
“Give your eyes 10 minutes to [adjust] to the dark and you’re likely to see at least a few stars, even in the middle of our cities,” Greg advises.