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 astronomy tips and resources you’ll need to observe the glories that light up the heavens.

Sky at a Glance – Our most popular column. Find out what’s up in the sky tonight!
Sky Tour Podcasts – Discover your night sky in a guided monthly tour led by J. Kelly Beatty
Interactive Observing Tools – Plan your observing tonight with our sky chart and other tools
Celestial Objects to Observe – A treasure chest of observing advice categorized by object type
Astronomy and Stargazing Projects – Find blueprints for observing projects

Minkowski Planetary Nebulae

Looking for an observing challenge? An expert observer offers advice for exploring the Minkowski catalog of planetary nebulae. German-American astronomer Rudolph Minkowski was best known for his spectroscopic work on supernovae. But he was also interested in "gaseous nebulae," and in the 1940s, created a catalog of planetary nebulae he'd identified with the 60-...

Hercules Galaxy Cluster: Going Deep

In the Going Deep column in the July 2016 issue Sky & Telescope Contributing Editor Steve Gottlieb shared his expert knowledge, gathered through multiple observing sessions and outside research, of the Hercules Galaxy Cluster, cataloged as Abell 2151. The central 18' × 6' region, called Abell 2151C, is the richest region of the cluster...

Mercury transit 2016 in H-alpha light

Mercury’s Slow Glide Across the Sun

May 9th's transit of Mercury is now history. Countless amateurs — and professionals — watched as the innermost planet had its day in the Sun. It's sometimes the curse of being involved in astronomical outreach that I miss all the action during an important celestial event. For example, I never got to see Comet...