Learn the Night Sky—Orion Video

Click on the image to go to the video on YouTube .

Check out the new video on the constellation Orion—including how to recognize it, where and when to look for it, and some good targets there. The eight-minute video then shows how to use Orion as a springboard for finding other constellations surrounding it, making this part of the night sky easy to learn!

Orion is a great landmark for beginners learning their way around the night sky, because its main stars are so bright and the pattern they make is so distinct. The famous Great Orion Nebula, Messier 42 (M42), is here too—along with double stars, you could spend an evening with a telescope in Orion alone!

In North America, Europe and and Central Asia, Orion is visible high in the south around 9 PM in January and February. It’s also visible in the same part of the sky around 8 PM in March, and low in the west after twilight in April. (The constellation then disappears into the Sun’s glare until late summer, when it reappears in the eastern sky just before dawn in August, around 3 AM in September, 1 AM in October, 11 PM in November, and so forth, starting the yearly cycle anew.)

March Skies 2019

by Zachary Singer

In March, we have a relatively quiet month for planets: Most of them are now early-morning objects, but they are at a greater angle from the Sun, allowing better observing. In the “Stars and Deep Sky” section, we’ll look at two stars in the constellation Cancer—the first is a wonderful binary, and the other, a lesser-known carbon star.

Continue reading “March Skies 2019”

January Skies 2019

by Zachary Singer


We start the first month of the New Year off with a splash—a total lunar eclipse on the night of January 20th. Along with that, we have planets and two targets in Eridanus—one is an important multiple-star system, and the other a striking planetary nebula.

Lunar eclipses happen when the Earth, Moon, and Sun align so that the Earth is between the other two bodies, preventing the Sun from shining onto the Moon. A total lunar eclipse occurs when all of the Sun’s direct rays are blocked; these are mesmerizing phenomena to observe, and while a telescope or binoculars would be great to have, you’ll be riveted even with your naked eyes. (Unlike solar eclipses, there’s no need to worry about eye protection.)

Continue reading “January Skies 2019”

October Skies 2018

Looking just west of south in Denver at 9:00 PM on October 15th. Telrad circles are included for scale; their center is about 30° above the horizon. Note that with 3rd- and 4th- magnitude stars in its outline, most of Capricornus will likely not be visible to the naked eye under city lights. –Object positions, constellation and meridian lines charted in SkySafari, and then enhanced. (Tap on image above for larger version.)

© Zachary Singer

Welllllll… We had a planet-rich summer, but many of the planetary observational opportunities are going away or will do soon. At the same time, we’re in a great position for deep-sky targets, with late-summer objects still in play, and winter targets, like Orion, becoming visible to observers in the wee hours. The earlier onset of night helps, too. Here’s what’s up for October: Continue reading “October Skies 2018”

July Skies 2018

July 2018 Skies as seen from Denver Colorado.
Viewing due south in Denver at 10:30 PM in mid-July. Note position of M19 (shown just right of center) slightly above the imaginary line that runs between 36 Ophiuchus and Sigma (σ) Scorpii. (Some labels use “Oph,” the standard abbreviation for Ophiuchus/Ophiuchi, for clarity.) –Object positions, constellation and meridian lines charted in SkySafari, and then enhanced. (Tap on image above for larger version.)

© Zachary Singer

The Solar System

The big news for July is that Mars comes to opposition on the 27thmeaning that it will be at its highest in the south on that date around 1 AM, and also Continue reading “July Skies 2018”