Learning About the Sky

Can you locate the Big Dipper tonight? How about the constellation Hercules? The articles below will provide a few astronomy basics, which will help you to get your bearings on the heavens so that star patterns and constellations will become your familiar friends, allowing you to find observing targets with ease.

With the right “road map to the stars,” (a.k.a. one of our free star charts) you’ll be able to use your base knowledge to find interesting stellar pairings and locate “deep-sky objects” — the star clusters, galaxies, and nebulas that binoculars and telescopes will reveal. Once you’ve found the Big Dipper, it’s easy to find two binary pairs. Similarly, once you know the Hercules constellation, it’s easy to find the globular cluster hidden within.

No one can help you learn your way around the night sky like Sky & Telescope can.

Cone of zodiacal light stretching into the sky from behind a dark silhouette of evergreen trees.

Zodiacal Light – Captivated by Comet Dust

October's a perfect time to see the zodiacal light, a tapering tower of comet dust standing high in the eastern sky before dawn. Here's how to find it. Wednesday morning, 5:30 a.m. I'm driving too fast down a country road in search of a clear sky to watch the total lunar eclipse. Totality is underway, but clouds...

Crescent cradles the 'old moon'

Earthshine, the Moon’s Darker Side

With a subtle beauty all its own, the earthshine we see glowing in the lunar night invites us to consider Earth's many connections to the Moon This week's crescent Moon offers more than two horns to hang your hat on. Take a close look, and you'll see an entire circle of moonlight. Sunlight illuminates...