Some daily events in the changing sky for July 10 18.
Friday, July 10
Saturday, July 11
Now that we're far into summer, the Summer Triangle is very high in the east after dark, with the Moon-washed Milky Way running horizontally through it. Bright Vega is the Summer Triangle's highest corner. Lower left of Vega, by two or three fist-widths at arm's length, is Deneb. Farther to the lower right of Vega shines the triangle's third corner, Altair.
Sunday, July 12
Monday, July 13
Tuesday, July 14
Wednesday, July 15
Thursday, July 16
40th anniversary website.
Friday, July 17
Saturday, July 18
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts; the standards are Sky Atlas 2000.0 or the smaller Pocket Sky Atlas) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the more detailed and descriptive Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the classic Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
Can a computerized telescope take their place? I don't think so not for beginners, anyway, and especially not on mounts that are less than top-quality mechanically: accurate and wobble-free. As Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say in their Backyard Astronomer's Guide, "A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand and a curious mind." Without these, "the sky never becomes a friendly place."
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy"
This Week's Planet Roundup