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Star Charts Star charts and planispheresYou wouldn't go on a road trip without a street map. Likewise, it is much easier to find your way around the night sky if you carry a set of star charts in some form or other. There are two main types of star charts. Planispheres, sometimes called star finders or star and planet locators, have a round center that allows you to dial in your local date and time in order to display a correct rendering of the evening sky. They usually only show that constellations and brighter stars in the sky. Static star charts are much more detailed and will list thousands of stars as well as deep sky objects according to their coordinated in the sky. Both types can be obtained from astronomy suppliers. Planispheres can also be found at many bookstores and hobby shops. Flashlights Waterproof flashlight with a nighttime red filterGetting around in the dark can be difficult at best. But you won't be very popular around your peers if you go shining bright lights in their eyes. Fortunately there is a solution. A flashlight with a red lens will allow you to find your way around without ruining your night vision. It takes the average person between 15 and 20 minutes for their vision to fully adapt to the low levels of light. A bright light can send you back to the starting point. All astronomy supply companies offer a number of styles and designs. Many are waterproof, which will help extend the life of your flashlight on those moist, dewy evenings when the humidity is high. Carrying Cases Carrying case for telescope accessoriesCarrying cases are a must for keeping your equipment organized and free of dirt and moisture. Many types of cases for your equipment can be obtained from a number of sources. Camera shops usually carry plastic cases that have die-cut foam inside that can be cut and rearranged to fit your equipment. Most astronomy supply companies also offer cases and carrying bags that are more specially tailored. At many department stores you can find canvas camera bags with adjustable dividers inside. Shop around and find what works best for you. Batteries Rechargeable battery with a cigar lighter plugIf you are using a telescope with an electronic mount, or any other type of electric equipment, you will need a power source. Many people will use their car batteries. While this will work for short periods of time, a better solution is to purchase a rechargeable battery or battery pack. Sporting goods stores and astronomy suppliers offer a variety of batteries to suit all of your power needs. You may want to axe the idea of a generator if you will be observing with others. The noise is not likely to make you any friends. Insect Repellant Assortment of insect repellant productsThis could very well be the most important single piece of equipment in your arsenal. In many parts of the country, these voracious blood-sucking insects descend on unwary astronomers as soon as evening sets in. Many people I know have achieved good results with the skin-so-soft formulas. There are also a great deal of new sprays, candles, and electronic devices to combat these obsessive pests. You will have to find out what works best for you. But make sure you have something. A swarm of mosquitoes can ruin an otherwise excellent night of observing the heavens. Good Music Assortment of new age music to enhance the viewing experienceObserving should be a relaxing experience. Be sure to bring along some good music to help the minutes click by. If you are making long exposure photographs through your telescope, you could be sitting at the eyepiece for up to an hour for each photo. Music definitely helps to make the experience a little more enjoyable. Many astronomers seem to enjoy the spacey or celestial sounding music to enhance the observing experience. You can find a lot of these tunes in the New Age sections of most music stores as well as the nature stores in the malls. Music by Ray Lynch and David Lange are among my favorites. Be sure to be courteous to others. If you are observing with a group, make sure everyone shares your taste in tunes. Otherwise a good pair of earphones may be a wise investment. Warm Clothing Assortment of warm clothing for cold, cloudless nightsAlthough most people don't realize it, the temperature can drop quite rapidly after the Sun goes down. This is especially true on clear nights when there are no clouds to hold in the heat. Unfortunately these are the nights we want to be out under the stars. You may be surprised to find out how chilly it can get after midnight on a summer night. Be sure to bring extra clothing such as jackets, sweat shirts, and sweat pants to be prepared for any changes. During the winter months, be especially careful not to get too cold. Hypothermia can get you when you least expect it. Be sure to dress in layers of warm clothing to keep your body in and keep the cold air out. Food and Drink Assortment of snacks for late-night munchiesSince dark sky observing sites take most of us quite a way from home, you may want to be sure to remember to bring along some food and drinks. If you are out on an all-night observing session, as are those in many astronomy clubs, this is especially important. Water is necessary to keep your body from becoming dehydrated in the dry, cool night air. Iced tea is particularly helpful for beating those sleepy urges. Snacks are also a must for satisfying those late-night hunger pains that are inevitable when ever you stay up past bed time.