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.

View of Saturn through a large backyard telescope

See Splendid Saturn at Its Best

Your first view of Saturn with a telescope can introduce you to the riches of stargazing — and now is the perfect time to observe it. Saturn is entering the early evening sky this spring just as Jupiter begins its exit in the west. Here's a quick guide to spotting the ringed planet by...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

Sky at a Glance, May 2 – 10

Friday, May 2 How soon after sunset can you see the first stars and planets coming out? The brightest this spring is Jupiter. Look for it high in the west, almost two fist-widths at arm's length above or upper left of the Moon this evening. Next brightest is Sirius, sinking in the southwest. Saturday,...

Why is Jupiter's Great Red Spot shrinking?

Jupiter’s Not-So-Great Red Spot

Astronomers don't know why Jupiter's iconic Great Red Spot has been gradually shrinking since the 1800s — or why the downsizing has accelerated during the past two years. Update: On May 15th, NASA released newly taken images of the Great Red Spot (at bottom below) to show its declining size since 1995. Thanks to...

This Week's Sky at a Glance

Sky at a Glance, April 18-26

Friday, April 18 Jupiter shines right under the big Arch of Spring this year. The Arch spans much of the western sky. Pollux and Castor form its top (as seen from mid-northern latitudes). To their lower left is Procyon, one end of the Arch. Farther to their lower right is the other end: Menkalinen...