Understanding the Night Sky: The Bortle Scale

Wondering if that bright star or distant galaxy will be visible from your backyard tonight? Well, it really depends on what your sky looks like. A lot of things matter, like where you're standing, the date and time, whether it's cloudy or clear, the equipment you're using, and how bright the artificial lights around you are. The first few things are pretty easy to figure out on your own, and we're here to help with the last bit! Our infographic shows how light-polluted your sky is.

As a guide, we use the famous Bortle Scale. It's a handy system for indicating how dark or bright your sky is, from Class 9 (lots of city lights and almost nothing to see in the sky) to Class 1 (really dark and great for stargazing). If you're curious to learn more about the impact of light pollution on modern stargazing, check out our dedicated article.

In this infographic, you'll see pictures of what the sky looks like with different amounts of artificial light around. You'll also learn about the cool celestial objects you might be able to see in each Bortle class of sky.

Knowing what's going on with your sky is super helpful for stargazing, as it can help you tailor your plans – like focusing on the easier objects, getting better equipment, or going somewhere darker to see more stars. And guess what? We've listed some of the best places to see lots of stars at the end of our guide.

Found our infographic useful for getting to know the night sky? Don't keep this treasure to yourself – share it with friends! Find it on our Instagram account via the #infographics_StarWalk hashtag. Enjoy stargazing with your loved ones. Follow us for more tips and tricks on navigating the sky!

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