A Guide to the Sky, Telescopes, and Telescope Programs
What is up Tonight?
(In the event that this page is not up-to-date, skip to the links below for external resources).
Almost everything is "up" tonight, if you're willing to observe from dusk to dawn. We'll list things here that are visible after Sunset and rise within a couple hours afterward.
Note that the Moon is different every night, rising about 50 minutes later (and lying about 15 degrees further east every day). Why does it change?
What's up for June 2014?
Planets! Planets! Planets!
Jupiter is the brightest start in the west at sunset. Mars is close to Earth now, so it's a good target for a scope (see an ice cap!). It's south of overhead at sunset. Bright and very orange. Extend a line from Jupiter through Mars and another orange "star" in the southeast is Saturn. Aim your scope or binoculars at any of these. You can see Saturn's rings and Jupiter's moons.
Jupiter is that really bright "star" near the west horizon at sunset. Even binoculars will show a cloud band or two as well as the four Galilean moons (which change position nightly).
Every twenty six months or so, the Earth passes between the Sun and Mars. Most of the time, features on Mars are very, very difficult to see. When we're close to Mars, like right now, an ice cap and some greyish features are visible on an otherwise peach/coral dot. It's the bright orange star to the east at sunset. Don't let June go by without pointing a scope at Mars (if for no other reason than so you won't feel guilty for the next two years).
The summer Milky Way is great to browse through with binoculars or a small scope. If you're in a dark, clear sky, that cloudy swath of grey is the Milky Way.
Lunar Eclipse Epidemic!
Four total eclipses in 18 months! April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4 2015; Sep 28 2105.
The sun is up every day and visible from even the brightest, dirtiest sky. Click here for more info on solar observing
Where are you?
The whole sky is up at all times. Everything in it is up everyday. So why can't you see it all at any time? The sun washes out the sky during the day and, of course, the earth gets in the way. The Earth does block out the Sun so that we can see the stars, but it does also block out how far to the south we can see. The closer you get to the equator on earth, the less of the sky is permanently blocked out. From San Diego at 32 degrees North Latitude, we cannot see the sky closer than 32 degrees to the south celestial pole.
Some links to good targets tonight or this week:
Whole sky map of tonight’s sky with interesting targets at SkyMaps.com (scroll down to the Current Month to download a map)
Week’s Sky at a Glance (overview of highlights)
Sky (useful and thorough, but text-based.
Requires some knowledge)
Questions or comments? Email:Jeff Martin