How to Start Stargazing in the City: Tips for dealing with light pollution and urban stargazing.

Hoe Beginnen met Sterrenkijken in de Stad: Tips voor het omgaan met lichtvervuiling en stedelijk sterrenkijken.

Stargazing in the city can be a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. Despite the ubiquitous light pollution, with the right knowledge and tools it is possible to discover the wonders of the night sky, even from the most illuminated urban areas. This blog is specially designed for city dwellers who have a passion for astronomy but are often discouraged by the bright lights of the city.

In this article we dive into the world of urban stargazing. We discuss strategies to minimize light pollution, identify the best objects to observe under urban sky conditions, and offer tips on choosing the right equipment. From selecting the most suitable telescopes and eyepieces to using filters that reduce the effects of urban glow, we'll cover all the essential aspects to maximize your stargazing experience in the city.

Whether you're a novice stargazer just getting started, or an experienced astronomer adapting to an urban environment, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to discover the beauty of the cosmos from your own backyard or balcony . So let's take up the challenge and explore the urban night sky together!

Strategies to reduce light pollution

Light pollution is a significant challenge for both professional astronomers and amateur stargazers, especially in urban areas. However, there are several strategies that can be implemented to reduce the effects of light pollution, making the night sky more accessible for stargazing.

Using Filters

For amateur stargazers, using filters on telescopes can help minimize the effects of light pollution. These filters block certain wavelengths of light, usually those that contribute most to light pollution, making it easier to observe celestial objects.

An example of this could already be a moon filter. A moon filter can ensure that the light on the moon becomes more visible through the telescope. The contrast increases. You won't be able to completely prevent light pollution in the city, but using a moon filter will make a big difference.

A telescope with a moon filter, for example, is the Vultus 50080. An ideal model to start your astronomy adventure.

maanfilter telescoop

Adjusting Personal Outdoor Lighting

Consider limiting or directing outdoor lighting at home. For example, use downward lighting instead of lamps that emit light in all directions. This reduces the amount of light entering the air.Make sure that outdoor lights are well shielded so that the light is directed downwards. This prevents light from escaping sideways or upwards and illuminating the sky. Simply make it as dark as possible and if this is not possible, make sure that the light does not shine towards the telescope or upwards.

Identify the best objects to observe under urban sky conditions

Stargazing in urban areas, where light pollution is prominent, can be challenging. However, there are still many fascinating astronomical objects that are visible even under these conditions. Here are some of the best objects to observe under urban sky conditions:

1. The Moon

The moon is one of the most accessible celestial bodies and is an excellent object to observe, even in light-polluted urban areas. The craters, mountains, and mari (lunar seas) can be viewed in detail with a telescope or even a good pair of binoculars.

2. Bright Planets

Planets such as Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are often visible in urban environments. Jupiter's moons and Saturn's rings can be seen with a small telescope.

3. Constellations

Although fainter stars can be difficult to see, the bright stars of the better-known constellations often remain visible. Identifying constellations like Orion, the Ursa Major, and Cassiopeia can be a rewarding experience.

4. Double stars

Some bright double stars, such as Mizar and Alcor in the Ursa Major, can be observed in urban areas. These stars provide a chance to see color contrasts and the interactions between binary star systems.

5. International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station is often visible as a bright, moving star. Websites and apps can inform you when the ISS flies over your location.

6. Brightest Stars

Some of the brightest stars, such as Sirius, Arcturus and Vega, are often visible, even in urban areas. These stars provide an opportunity to learn about different types of stars and their properties.

7. Artificial Satellites

Like the ISS, other satellites can be seen reflecting the sun. They appear as moving points of light crossing the sky.

8. Bright Comets

Although this may be a rare occasion, bright comets such as NEOWISE in 2020 are sometimes visible from urban areas. Following astronomy news can inform you about upcoming comets.

9. Special Events

Astronomical events such as lunar eclipses, partial solar eclipses and bright meteor showers can often be observed, even in cities.

10. Bright Deep-Sky Objects

Some of the brightest deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Nebula and the Orion Nebula can be visible in less light-polluted parts of urban areas.

When observing these objects, it is useful to choose a spot that is as far away as possible from direct light sources and where the horizon is as open as possible. Using special filters can also help improve the contrast and visibility of these objects. With patience and practice, city dwellers can still enjoy the beauty of the night sky despite the challenges of light pollution.

Tips on choosing the right equipment

When you start stargazing in the city, where light pollution is a major factor, choosing the right equipment is essential to have the best possible experience. Here are some tips to help you select the right gear for urban stargazing:

1. Telescope selection

  • Aperture is Important: Choose a telescope with a larger aperture (the diameter of the main mirror or lens). A larger aperture captures more light, which is crucial in light-polluted areas. For example, the Vultus 1000114 has an aperture of 114mm, which is a lot.
  • Type of Telescope: Refractor telescopes (with lenses) and reflector telescopes (with mirrors) are both suitable, but reflectors often offer more aperture for the same price. The Vultus 50080 is an ideal telescope to start with.
  • Portability: Consider a telescope that is easy to transport, especially if you plan to travel to darker locations outside of the city. An ideal travel telescope would be the Vultus 40070 telescope. Small, compact, but with reasonable power.

2. Eyepieces

  • Various Magnifications: Invest in a good set of eyepieces with different magnifications. Low magnification is useful for wide views and finding objects, while higher magnification is better for planet watching.
  • Quality over Quantity: Choose a pair of high-quality eyepieces over a large set of lower quality.

3. Mounting and Tripod

  • Stable Mount: Choose a rugged and stable mount to minimize vibration, which is especially important at high magnification.
  • Easy to Use: Make sure your mount and tripod are easy to set up and use, especially if you change locations often.
  • View here more information about mounting a telescope.

4. Additional Accessories

  • Red Flashlight: Use a red flashlight to read maps or operate your telescope without disrupting your night vision.
  • Carrying Bag or Case: Protect your gear and make transport easier with a sturdy carrying bag or case.

5. Apps and Software

  • Star Charts and Apps: Use apps or software to help you navigate the night sky and plan your observations.

6. Knowledge and Preparation

  • Get to Know Your Gear: Spend time learning the ins and outs of your gear. Practice setting up and adjusting in a bright environment before trying it in the dark.

By keeping these tips in mind when choosing your gear, you can create a more satisfying and successful stargazing experience in the city. The most important thing is to choose equipment that suits your needs, your skill level and your budget. Stargazing is a wonderful hobby that can be both relaxing and educational, even in an urban environment.


In the challenging environment of a light-polluted city, stargazing can sometimes be difficult. Although urban lighting conditions impose certain limitations, the strategies and tips we've discussed—from choosing the right gear and filters to identifying the best objects for urban observing—provide a solid foundation to begin your astronomical journey. By becoming aware of the impact of light pollution and taking active steps to reduce it, we can make the wonders of the night sky more accessible, even in the middle of the city. So equip yourself with knowledge, patience and the right tools, and prepare to discover the beauty of the universe from your own urban backyard. Stargazing in the city is not only possible; it can be a deeply enriching experience.