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 August 2015?
There are plenty of phone "sky apps" that can help you find sky targets.
The Perseid Meteor shower peaks in mid-August (near the new moon!). Here's the equipment you need to see meteor showers: a lawnchair and your eyeballs. Telescopes are useless for meteors because they only show 0.001% of the sky. The odds of a meteor crossing your field of view are microscopic. Your eyeballs can see almost the whole sky at once. A reclining chair is your best tool, because if you're comfortable, you'll watch longer. The darker your sky the more meteors you'll see.
The spectacular Summer Milky is visible after sunset from the southeast horizon running to directly overhead. It's visible unless you're in bright urban skies. The darker the sky you can get to, the more stunning it becomes. Aim some binoculars or a small telescope at the southern end: it's full of amazing clusters and nebula (and the center of our Galaxy).
Saturn is high in the south at sunset (Norhteast of the bright red star Antares). It's beautiful through just about anything. Even binoculars will show 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