"Put three grains of sand in a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars"
- Sir James Jeans

If you were to travel through the vast emptiness of the universe you may eventually come across a collection of galaxies called Galaxy Group C7. One of the members of C7 is a large spiral galaxy containing over 100,000 million stars.
Home Sweet Home?
Deep in the suburbs of this galaxy, about 30,000 light years from the centre lies a rather unspectacular yellow star. This is our sun.
The only reason the sun lights up our sky is because it is so much closer than any other stars. When our part of the planet is facing away from the sun then the night comes and the sky is filled with thousands of distant suns.

There is much to see in the night's sky. With the unaided eye, there are the constellations, shooting stars (or meteors), several of the planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all visible to the unaided eye), and of course our moon.
Also visible are some of the man-made interlopers in the night sky. Communication and weather satellites can often be seen (especially in the Summer) and you might see the International Space Station.

Many people have access to a pair of binoculars, but never think to turn them on the night sky. A decent pair of binoculars is a great way of getting in to astronomy. Binoculars gather in more light than the human eye so not only do they bring things closer, you can actually see a lot of stars that are invisible to the unaided eye.
Take a trip along the milky way with binoculars and you will see just how many stars surround us. Turn the binoculars on the moon and you can see many craters jump into focus. In the winter you can see the Orion Nebula (a stellar nursery) and star clusters such as the Pleiades and the Beehive cluster.
In the summer months you can see the Great Cluster in Hercules. This is a tightly knit group of about one million stars that appear like a faint ball of light. Also visible with binoculars is the Great Galaxy in Andromeda. A huge galaxy about 2.5 million light years from earth.

The Greatest Show on Earth

Since the earliest civilisations, mankind has studied the stars. Heroes and gods have been placed among them. Great stories have been woven in the constellations. Perseus, Andromeda, Hercules and Pegasus all look down on us from the sky. So many people throughout history have been enthralled by the stars, why not join them?

New stars bursting into life in a nearby galxy. Picture courtesy of NASA

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