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, 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...

InOMN logo

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...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, August 1 – 9

Friday, August 1 At dusk this evening, the Moon forms the lower-right end of a very long, curving line of celestial objects. Counting to the Moon's upper left, these are Spica, Mars, and Saturn, as shown here. Today is Lammas Day or Lughnasadh, one of the four traditional "cross-quarter" days midway between the solstices...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, July 25 – August 2

Friday, July 25 Mars and Spica shine in the southwest at nightfall. Mars keeps pulling farther away from Spica; they're now 6° apart. Saturn glows pale yellow to their upper left. Arcturus sparkles high to their upper right. Saturday, July 26 New Moon (exact at 6:42 p.m. EDT). Summer is hardly more than a...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, July 11 – 19

Friday, July 11 Mars and Spica form a striking pair in the southwestern sky at dusk! They're now just under 2° apart. On Sunday evening they'll be at their minimum separation, 1.3°. Watch them change day by day. Full Moon tonight and Saturday night (exactly full at 7:25 a.m. Saturday morning Eastern Daylight Time.)...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, July 4-12

Friday, July 4 Out to watch fireworks? As you're waiting for twilight to end, spot the Moon in the west-southwest with Mars and Spica off to its left, as shown for July 4 here. High above them all shines brighter Arcturus. Saturn is farther left (off the left edge of this illustration). Point them...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, June 27 – July 5

Friday, June 27 This is the time of year when, at the end of dusk, the dim Little Dipper floats straight upward from Polaris (the end of its handle) — like a helium balloon on a string, escaped from some summer evening party. Look due north. (Through light pollution, all that you may see...