There are several different tools you can use to help you navigate the dark skies. Here are the most popular ones used by our club!
SkyMaps is free each month and created for you to explore, learn & enjoy the night sky. The Evening Sky Map (PDF) is a 2-page monthly guide to the night sky suitable for all sky watchers including newcomers to Astronomy. Designed to print clearly on all printers, The Evening Sky Map is ready-to-use and will help you to identify planets, stars and major constellations, find sparkling star clusters, wispy nebulae & distant galaxies, locate and follow bright comets across the sky, and learn about the night sky and astronomy.
Practice before you come out! If using the sky map doesn’t help much, then you might like the (free) Stellarium Planetarium Software. Member Aurora created a how-to video for her astronomy students that you might find useful to learn Stellarium.
How good are the “seeing conditions”? Know ahead of time what the forecast is for our star-gazing locations in astronomy terms. These look intimidating at first, but you’ll find them very useful once you get the hang of how to read them. They are called “Sky Clocks”, and here are three different ones (click on the icons to be taken to the in-depth page) that our club uses:
Current Phase of the Moon:
Daily Sun and Moon Data Use the forms on this page to obtain rise, set, and transit times for the Sun and Moon; civil twilight beginning and end times; and, lunar phase information. First, specify the date and location in one of the two forms below. Then, click the “Get data” button at the end of the form. Use Form A for cities or towns in the U.S. or its territories. Use Form B for all other locations.
What’s Up in the Sky Tonight? This star chart (created by PBS) is designed to get you out learning the night sky within a matter of moments. Just set it for your time and location, make a few tweaks if you like for personal taste, and print it out.