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.

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 17 – 25

Some daily sky sights among the ever-changing stars and planets Monster sunspot alert — see "This Week's Planet Roundup" below. Friday, October 17 Before dawn Saturday morning, Jupiter shines above the waning Moon, as shown at right. Although they look rather close together, Jupiter is 2,100 times farther in the background — it's at...

Sequence of lunar eclipse images

Lunar Eclipse Roundup

Reports describing this morning's lunar eclipse are beginning to trickle in to our offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Night Owls Prepare for October 8th’s Lunar Eclipse

You'll need to be up after midnight to watch the Moon plunge deep into Earth's shadow tomorrow morning — but it'll be worth it. Sometimes astronomical events occur in prime time — soon after it gets dark yet before bedtime. But that won't be the case tomorrow morning when, for the second time this year,...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 3 – 11

Some daily celestial sights among the ever-changing stars and planets Friday, October 3 As evening twilight fades away, look very far to the lower left of the Moon for Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star, already climbing up from the southeast horizon. Saturday, October 4 The W pattern of Cassiopeia stands vertically (on its dimmer end)...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, September 5 – 13

Friday, September 5 Saturn, Mars, Delta (δ) Scorpii, and Antares form an equally-spaced ragged line in the southwest at dusk, as shown at right. Delta Scorpii used to be a bit dimmer than Beta above it. Then in July 2000 it doubled in brightness. It has remained bright, with slow fluctuations, ever since. Look...

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A Worldwide Night of Moonwatching

International Observe the Moon Night is an event that encourages people to "look up" and enjoy our nearest neighbor. This year's InOMN is Saturday, September 6th. Here's a quiz: What astronomical object looks amazing no matter what the magnification, never looks exactly the same no matter how often you view it, and can be...

Autumn sky sights near Vega

Tour September’s Sky: Farewell to Saturn

The astronomical calendar says autumn arrives on September 22nd. It's a season of transition, with plenty of celestial comings and goings in the evening sky. September’s equinox takes place on the 22nd at 10:29 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. At that moment the Sun shines directly overhead as seen from the equator. Days and nights...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, August 22 – 30

Friday, August 22 Altair is the brightest star shining halfway up the southeastern sky after nightfall. Look to its left, by a little more than a fist at arm's length, for the dim but distinctive constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin. He's leaping leftward, just below the Milky Way. In Saturday's dawn, the thin waning crescent...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, August 8 – 16;

Friday, August 8 Already you may see an occasional Perseid meteor if you keep an eye on the night sky. The shower's peak night is predicted for next Tuesday (August 12–13), but moonlight will compromise the view all week. Look northeast as the stars come out for W-shaped Cassiopeia. It's still not quite as...