Five wellbeing benefits of taking up stargazing

Stargazing sessions are on the rise as a trendy form of mindful meditation – helping people to relieve stress and find mental silence in all things astral.

It’s a real back-to-basics form of escapism, and Neill Sanders astrologer and founder of Go Stargazing, says visits to his website increased tenfold during lockdown.

Luckily, we are blessed with a smorgasbord of dark-sky areas in Australia and the stars are ready to be explored by anyone who slows down and looks up.

Stars GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here, Mr Sanders shares some of the top wellbeing benefits of stargazing.

1. You get out into nature
With light pollution in towns and cities obstructing our view of the universe’s natural show, getting a good glimpse of the night skies requires you to head out into the great outdoors – and the benefits of being in nature are well documented.

According to one Finnish study, spending just 15 minutes sitting in nature can help us to feel psychologically refreshed, while multiple studies have linked nature walks with improved mental health.

Read: Hobbies that boost the brain

“You really need to go to somewhere fairly rural and remote to see the best views of the stars, so you’ll often find yourself pitching up next to true nature,” says Mr Sanders.

“Getting away from the city to an area of natural beauty, where you can really see the stars, can have a very profound effect on people.”

Many people are avoiding travelling overseas at the moment, so stargazing gives you the opportunity to staycation in some truly spectacular places.

2. It can spark your creativity
“Astro-photography is such a big part of stargazing now and you can find some incredible images to inspire you on social media,” says Mr Sanders, who believes that picking up a camera can help people tap into a whole new creative outlet.

“It’s very easy to take photographs of starry skies with a simple DSLR and tripod, but smartphone technology is so good now too, that many people shoot directly on their phones using night-time photography apps.”

Read: Tips for snapping great sunrise and sunset photos

3. It’s a stress reliever
A 2014 study suggested those who stargaze feel more connected to nature. A range of other benefits were also highlighted by participants, including experiencing positive emotions.

“From a health and wellbeing perspective, we saw a huge increase in interest in astronomy during the pandemic. People felt like they were stuck at home with nowhere to go,” says Mr Sanders. “Many people were just going out into the garden and looking at the stars; even some of the big telescope retailers saw stock shortages because of the demands.”

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“It is a big stress-reliever,” he adds. “It’s a good way to escape the hustle and bustle of home life.”

4. It’s a social hobby
The great thing about astrology is that it can be as social as you like. Australia is perfectly positioned to be pointed in the direction of some incredible celestial delights. Many stargazing groups have been set up around the country, meaning you’re never likely to be short of people to enjoy stargazing with.

5. It’s always exciting
The world of stargazing never gets boring because there are always new natural wonders to enjoy.

Not only does Australia’s outback offer some of the darkest skies on the planet, but the Southern Hemisphere offers celestial sights you simply can’t see anywhere else. That includes the mesmerising light show of the southern lights and otherwise-invisible galaxies including Alpha Centauri and the Magellanic Clouds.

Read: The best places to see the southern lights

Australia also has the best view of the Milky Way on earth, looking towards the galactic centre rather than away from it. There are 100 times more stars on display than can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere, not to mention meteor showers, dust lanes and nebulae.

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Stayed up till 2am to see the Milky Way and the stars did not disappoint

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Best of all, stargazing doesn’t involve a pricey membership or a big commitment. Anyone can do it and you don’t need expensive equipment. Really, you just need your eyes.

– With PA

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Written by Liz Connor