Did the astronomy bug bite you while you were out last night? Feeling inspired to learn about the wonders of the sky, the solar system, and all the science behind them? Let this page serve as your guide to astronomy for beginners.
Check out what's up in the night sky this week. Get advice for buying your first telescope. And find the best coverage you’ll find online of upcoming celestial events such as eclipses and meteor showers.
What's Up In the Night Sky Tonight?
The best guide to astronomy for beginners is the night sky. All you really need to do to get started is look up — preferably at night! You'll find an amazing treasure chest of astronomical wonders, even if you don't have a telescope.
Our most popular (and free) offering, "This Week's Sky at a Glance," guides you to the naked-eye sky, highlighting the major constellations and planets viewable in the evening sky, with occasional dips into deep-sky territory.
If you'd rather listen while under the stars, download our monthly astronomy podcast and take it with you when you venture out tonight for a guided tour to the night sky.
Or do your own sleuthing with our interactive sky chart.
If there are any major celestial events, such as comets, eclipses, or meteor showers, you'll find all the latest information (including instructions on where to look and detailed sky charts) in our observing news section.
Astronomy Facts: Building Your Background
Even though you don't need to know the Greek names of the constellations or understand the nature of black holes in order to relish the night sky, you might want to anyway. We provide a rich supply of information and resources on astronomy for beginners.
- Download our free guide to beginning stargazing - great for clubs to hand out to members, too!
- Learn astronomy lingo
- Learn to use sky charts and star wheels (or make your own)
- Family-friendly astronomy activities
- Observing Tips by Celestial Object
- En Español: Observar el Cielo
Ready to Go Deeper?
The naked-eye sky is full of astronomical treasures, and it gets even better with a little magnification. But don't feel you have to go out and buy a high-power telescope right away. Often the best first telescope is a pair of binoculars. Binoculars can give you the wide-field view that's essential to really learning your way around the night sky. Find out more about choosing and using binoculars here.
Once you're ready for a telescope, we have more than a few words of advice! You'll want to check out two digestible articles on the topic of choosing your first telescope: "What to Know Before Buying a Telescope" and "How to Choose a Telescope." You might also be interested in our video guides to choosing, using, and equipping your telescope.
Get Involved in Astronomy Communities
Astronomy can be an enlightening solitary activity, but it can also be fun to have company — and advice from seasoned experts. Discover astronomy clubs and other organizations near you or find local astronomy-related events in our events calendar. (Or if you're already involved, submit your own club or event.)