The three-planet conjunction continues this week. And Virgo the Maiden takes center stage in the south. It’s home to the quasar 3C 273, the most distant object visible through most backyard telescopes.
Stargazers throughout the contiguous U.S. can see parts of the huge, ancient constellation Centaurus poking above the southern horizon. From Hawaii or southern Florida this constellation is splendid indeed.
The faint constellation Coma Berenices hosts one of the closest star clusters in the sky. It has a fascinating history and is a splendid sight through binoculars.
The Big Dipper is now at its highest in the northern sky. Galileo discovered the double star Mizar in its handle because he was looking for parallax, trying to prove that Earth goes around the Sun.
Saturn is the second-biggest planet in our solar system, big enough to fit 800 Earths inside. Its most prominent feature is its magnificent ring system, made of countless chunks of ice.
Three bright lights dominate the late-spring sky: Spica, the brightest star of Virgo the Maiden, Arcturus, the brightest star of Boötes the Herdsman, and the ringed planet Saturn.
The Moon pairs beautifully with Jupiter on Sunday, April 14th. Take a good look at Jupiter, the king of the planets, because it’s getting lower each evening.
The constellation Puppis floats lower left of dazzling Sirius. It’s just the tip of the gigantic ancient constellation Argo, the ship that carried Jason and the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece.
The Big Dipper, the sky’s best-known star pattern, is now high in the northeast. Find out how you can use it to tell the directions and the time of night.
Spring begins this week on Wednesday morning. This is the day when the Sun rises due East and sets due West all over the world.
If we’re lucky, comet PanSTARRS will shine low in the west shortly after sunset this week. But comets are notoriously unpredictable, so we won’t know for sure until the day arrives.
Cancer the Crab is home to the Praesepe, or Beehive. It looks like a cloud of light to the unaided eye, but binoculars show that it’s a glorious star cluster.
Splendid Leo the Lion rears up on its hind legs in the evening sky. Most constellations bear little resemblance to their names, but Leo really does look like a lion.
A beautifully thin crescent Moon floats upper right of Mercury on Monday. This is a great week to spot Mercury, something few people have knowingly done.
The constellation Gemini, the Twins, flies almost overhead in late February and early March. Its brightest stars are Castor and Pollux, named after the famous twins of Greek and Roman mythology.
Mars is spectacularly close to Mercury shortly after sunset on Friday February 8th. Spot the two smallest planets side by side in the sky — but nowhere near each other in space.
Look just below Orion’s Belt for his Sword. It’s centered on the Great Orion Nebula, which is currently giving birth to hot young stars at a furious rate.
The Moon forms a spectacular pair with Jupiter high in the southeast. They’re in the constellation Taurus the Bull, which was the first constellation of the zodiac at the dawn of history.
This is a great week to observe the Moon, our closest neighbor in space. It shows lots of detail to the unaided eye, and it’s amazing through binoculars and small telescopes.
Auriga the Charioteer is nearly overhead in the evening sky. Its prominent pentagon includes dazzling Capella, meaning She Goat, the sixth brightest star in the night sky.
A splendid vista of bright stars and one dazzling planet greets stargazers on the stroke of the New Year. And two remarkable stars that vary in brightness are high in the northwest.
The Moon pairs spectacularly with Jupiter on the evening of Christmas Day, December 25th. And Sirius, the night sky’s brightest star, is at its highest at midnight as the year winds to its end.
Winter starts on Friday, and coincidentally the ancient Mayan calendar flips over to a new “baktun.” Contrary to the doomsayers, nothing unusual will happen. But some astronomical phenomena are genuinely dangerous.
The Geminid meteor shower will be strongest from Thursday evening through Friday morning, though more meteors than usual will fall all week. Conditions are perfect this year, with no Moon to blind you to the faintest meteors.
Three of the sky’s finest star formations are climbing the southeastern sky. The Pleaides lead the way, then Jupiter with the Hyades, and magnificent Orion rounds out the group.