Finding South using the Southern Cross
Tips for looking at the night sky
Get away from lights. Any kind of lighting from street lights to phone screens will seriously impact what you can see in the night sky. Turn off house lights or close curtains to minimize the light outside, then find the darkest spot you can. For the best viewing travel out of town to get well away from the light pollution.
Be patient. It takes up to 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adapt to the dark and see as much as you can. Notice how many stars you can see when you first go outside and compare that to what you see 20 minutes later.
Get a pair of binoculars. Binoculars are the best viewing device to get started with and you'll never stop using them. Even the most experienced astronomers with huge telescopes still use their binoculars. They are extremely versatile, quick and simple to use, easy to travel with, and actually provide a surprisingly good view of the sky. There are many celestial objects that are best seen through binoculars due to the wide field of view (e.g. comet tails).
Note: It's very difficult to hold binoculars steady. It's best to brace them against something solid such as a pole or the side of a building. A tripod is ideal.
Get apps: There are many stargazing apps for most devices and desktop computers. See our rundown of the best astronomy apps.