Identify Constellations

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Each lab class will have a session to help you learn to identify constellations, bright stars, and the planets that are currently visible. It will help if you work on this with a star chart of your own, such as you might find in an astronomy book, or in one of these free resources:

Free star chart for anywhere at any time

Sky maps by the month

Tonight's sky including artficial satellites

Weekly guide and news

For your laptop, home computer, cell phone, or tablet there are many choices.

Beautiful Stellarium is free planetarium software for Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems. It is also available as a paid application for Android handheld devices.

The free Google Sky Map for Android works well, and makes use of Android device's navigation to interact with your real sky.

iTunes also offers a Sky Map for iPhone and iPad for a fee.

If want to pursue this and learn the night sky well, old technology works great. Consider getting a planisphere star finder, a rotating map of the sky that will show you how it appears on any date and time.

This lab will use Stellarium to help you learn to identify some of the prominent constellations and bright stars. If you have a Planisphere or one of the other applications on your handheld device or laptop, use it too.

Constellations seen from the Northern Hemisphere by Season


  • Aquila (Altair)
  • Corona Borealis
  • Cygnus (Deneb in the Northern Cross)
  • Draco
  • Hercules
  • Lyra (Vega)
  • Sagittarius (Center of Milky Way)
  • Scorpius (Antares)


  • Andromeda (Andromeda Galaxy)
  • Cepheus
  • Cassiopeia
  • Pegasus
  • Perseus (Algol)


  • Auriga (Capella)
  • Canis Major (Sirius)
  • Canis Minor (Procyon)
  • Gemini (Castor and Pollux)
  • Orion (Betelgeuse, Rigel and the Orion Nebula)
  • Taurus (Aldebaran and the Pleiades)


  • Bootes (Arcturus)
  • Cancer (Beehive Cluster)
  • Leo (Regulus)
  • Virgo (Spica)
  • Ursa Major (pointer stars)
  • Ursa Minor (Polaris)

Constellations seen from the Southern Hemisphere by Season


  • Aquila (Altair)
  • Sagittarius
  • Scorpius (Antares)


Eridanus (Achernar) Phoenix Tucana (47 Tuc) Small and Large Magellanic Clouds


  • Carina (Canopus)
  • Canis Major (Sirius)
  • Canis Minor (Procyon)
  • Orion (Betelgeuse, Rigel and Orion Nebula)


  • Virgo (Spica)
  • Centaurus (Alpha Centauri or Rigel Kentaurus and Omega Centauri)
  • Crux (Acrux in the Southern Cross)