Watch the Sky

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Each lab class will have a session scheduled in the Rauch Planetarium to help you learn how the sky changes hour by hour and with the seasons. 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 sky maps for any place and time

Monthly sky maps with comments on what to look for

Weekly guide and news

Tonight's sky including artificial satellites

Beautiful planetarium software for your computer

If want to pursue this and learn the night sky well, you should consider getting a plani-sphere starfinder. This is a rotating map of the sky that will show you how it appears on any date and time. Inexpensive ones may be available from a bookstore or the Planetarium. Stellarium is a desktop planetarium that displays the sky in a photo-realistic view. It is not a static map, but a dynamic moving picture of the sky as the Earth's rotation brings an ever changing view past you. It is a very good way to prepare for this lab, or to use after your lab to learn more.

Planetarium session

In the planetarium session you will see

  • How the Sun's path changes with seasons
  • Where is the Moon in the sky a few days after New Moon
  • Where is the Moon in the sky at First Quarter
  • When does the Full Moon rise?
  • When does the Last Quarter Moon rise?
  • Where are the bright planets at this time?
  • How to find the Big Dipper and the North Star
  • How to find the Summer Triangle
  • How to find Orion in the winter sky