My favorite thing in this world is looking up at stars but I live in NYC so I can't ever see stars. I was wondering if anyone knew of a device I can attach to a smartphone that would let me look up at the stars and actually see some? I can't afford to buy an expensive telescope. I'm a student and I just want to see some stars. Thanks to anyone who can help.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you Googled Stargazing in New York City? $\endgroup$ – Mick Apr 8 '18 at 1:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yes but I want something like a telescope so that if I travel to different places I can see stars $\endgroup$ – user477465 Apr 8 '18 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ You can see stars with your naked eyes, once you get clear of light pollution. You can even see the Milky Way. Binoculars are OK (see @JamesK answer), but holding them steady whilst pointing them up at the sky is near to impossible. $\endgroup$ – Mick Apr 9 '18 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ I've been to NYC. You should be able to see Sirius. Dark skies are the most needed thing, as even binocs or a telescope will pick up the city glow on those constant high level cirrus climate change has gifted many of us with. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 9 '18 at 15:38


This isn't going to attach to a smartphone, not everything in life is best seen through a screen. The camera on a smartphone is remarkable, but your eyes are much more sensitive in low light. Binoculars will make a lot more stars visible, even in heavily light polluted places.

A pair of binoculars is cheap enough for students. They are categorised as, for example 10x50, which means 10x magnification, and 50mm lenses. You want the second number to be big, which means the binoculars gather more light. 10x50 is often thought to be a good compromise between light gathering and weight. You won't want "zoom" or "night vision" or other such features.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For example, $36 will buy a nice (but not great) 7x50 pair of binoculars. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Apr 8 '18 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ Of course with zoom, you also want to think about a decent mounting, as all disturbances will be magnified by zoom as well. $\endgroup$ – AtmosphericPrisonEscape Apr 8 '18 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ If you really want a scope, get one of those short Cassegrains or Maksutovs, or whatever design is popular right now. Simple Newtonians and most inexpensive refractors tend to be too long for easy portability. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 10 '18 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ They make adjustable T sticks for holding your binoculars steady. -Not sure what name you'd have to search for to find them. But they beat heck out of having to find a wall, tree or rock to lean up against. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 10 '18 at 15:22

I'm too regular person. I find myself in similar situation as I stay in Mumbai. I too don't want to buy any expensive. Here is how I deal with it.

  1. Star Gazing sessions away from city. I go to star gazing sessions arranged by local astronomy groups every month. I prefer to visit twice a year. One is April and other between Oct to December. This way I cover both summer and winter Sky.

It takes 3 hrs to travel one way to go far away from light pollution. I have been attending this sessions for last 4 years. They have 8 inch and 10 inch Dobsonian reflecting telescopes. Patches of galaxies, nebulae and clusters can be easily seen through it. I made my mom to attend these sessions, she was happy and surprised to see Jupiter and it's moons through telescope. I suggest you to attend these sessions once in a while.

  1. Star Maps or App Before I goto sleep, I use Star app to find constellations, asterisms & planets. Thesr apps use real time star map in app for the night. It is helpful to know when they rise and set.

I bought Sky Safari app and been using it for last 2 years. There are amazing free verisons as well like Stellarium.

Sky Safari App screenshot

Binoculars though can help you looking at stars invisible to naked eye. It's great start but I find using telescopes by attending star gazing sessions more effective way to look stars.


If you live in a city, I'd get binoculars like the others have mentioned. But I would also plan a trip out into the countryside. I live 2 hours from a major city and still the sky is dark enough to see thousands of stars, the Milky Way, and even the Andromeda galaxy (faintly).

If you get binoculars, the first thing I would look at is the Pleiades. We can see six of the stars with the naked eye, with binoculars, you can see way more in the cluster. The next thing I would find it he nebula in Orion's belt.


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