Observing

The sky is always changing. Planets dance in the evening, stars explode as supernovae, and new comets grace dawn skies. Here we bring together all the tips and resources you’ll need to observe the glories that light up the heavens.

We have star maps, podcasts, and detailed guides for what’s in the sky tonight. Read senior editor Alan MacRobert’s column This Week’s Sky at a Glance to find out what’s visible and where and when to look. Or check out our pointers on seeing asteroids or spotting Uranus and Neptune. (Did you know you could do that?) Meteor showers, record-thin Moons, and even sunspots — here’s where you’ll find the latest on what’s happening in the sky, both day and night.

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Crazy About Concentric Craters

With the Moon riding high this week, what better time to look for its three best-known yet enigmatic "ring" craters? We welcome back the waxing Moon this week. It's a chance for many of us to put dark-sky targets on the back burner and give some love to she who lights the night. During fall, the evening...

Sketching makes the eye grow sharper

Pleasures of Keeping an Astro Journal

Keeping a record of what you see in the telescope is not only fun but helps grow your observing skills. Learn how to start a journal and see how other amateurs keep theirs.  Do you write down what you saw after a session at the telescope? I've been doing it since I was a kid....

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Is There Such a Thing as a Random Meteor?

Meteor showers like the Perseids get all the press. But have you ever wondered where all the random meteors come from? We explore their origins.  We've all seen them. The sporadics. Those random meteors that flash across the sky on any old clear night. If you were to make a lifelong tally of meteors,...

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Where To See Comet Lovejoy Tonight

The new Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, should brighten from 5th to 4th magnitude from late December through January as it climbs into excellent viewing position for the Northern Hemisphere, high in the dark winter sky.

The center of the stellar merry-go-round

A Visit to the Sky’s North Pole

Unlike the terrestrial North Pole, the heavenly version is easily accessible any clear night of the year. We explore curiosities within one degree of the celestial north pole and take a journey back in time.  What could be more appropriate in January than a jaunt to the north celestial pole? When the polar vortex comes howling and temperatures...

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What Makes Moonlight Special?

Romantic, mysterious, soothing, and radiant, moonlight has its own special qualities. We explore how we perceive the night under a bright Moon. A moonlit stroll is starkly different from a walk in the sunshine. Moonlight's dark, spooky quality contrasts with the clarity of sunlight. And while it may not grow hair on your face, we...

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Binocular Comet Lovejoy Heading Our Way

A new Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, is heading our way. It may brighten to 5th magnitude from late December through much of January as it climbs into excellent viewing position for the Northern Hemisphere, high in the dark winter sky.