Go Out: Look Up!
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 the month of March, 2013?
Right now at sunset, Comet Pan-STARRS is visible low on the horizon shortly after sunset. Tonight (March 12) it will be to the left of a thin crescent moon. It is the brightest "star" directly west (there aren't many that close to the horizon as it gets dark). Binoculars will show a nice tail. This page has some shots of the comet taken from San Diego (the shots with the orange "dirty" San Diego twilight air).
On March 11, it was spotted from 7:30-7:50p PDT. Tonight should be about the same.
-(thanks for the picture, Doug)
Here's a link on spotting it: Space.com Pan-Starrs
Note that "planetarium programs" such as Stellarium (free!) and iPhone aps such as Sky Safari, have the ability to show the comet's position at your location.
Jupiter is that bright thing directly overhead at sunset. Binoculars will show the Galilean moons. Scopes will show surface striping (even small scopes). The moons swing around it all the time, often transiting and front and getting eclipsed behind Jupiter. Shadows often transit across the face of Jupiter. The "shadow transits" are visible in even small scopes. Go online for up-to-date schedules for Jupiter moon events (one ap I use on my iPhone is "Gas Giants").
Saturn rises pretty late, so if you're up late, look for an orange "star" in the east. It is amazing through any scope. Even binoculars can show the rings.
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