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Learning About the Sky

A Quick Tour of Orion, the Hunter

The evening sky this week presents a near perfect opportunity to explore winte'rs marquee constellation, Orion, with binoculars or a small telescope.

Altair skyscape

Night Sky Sights

Meet Altair, the Eagle’s Eye

Altair, centerpiece of Aqulia, the Eagle, is the twelfth-brightest star in the night sky and one of the closest stars to Earth.

Night Sky Sights

Meet Barnard’s Star, Our Red Dwarf Neighbor

This faint red dwarf star is famous not because it's bright but because it's fast-moving — you can actually see it moving across the sky if you track it over several years.

Family Fun with Sky Watching

Nine Ways To Get Your Child Into Astronomy Before Summer Ends

There's still time before school (and early bedtimes) start up again — take advantage of balmy evenings to spark an interest in astronomy.

Canopus

Night Sky Sights

Meet Canopus, the Second Brightest Star

The second-brightest star after Sirius, Canopus is visible in southern skies, shining out of the constellation Carina.

Learning About the Sky

Freaky Noctilucent Clouds Break Out All Over

Night-shining clouds made of ice and meteor smoke are on the increase. We explore their origins and how to see them.

Spica and Corvus

Variable Stars

Meet Spica, the Ear of Grain

Meet Spica, the "ear of grain" in the constellation Virgo. This bright star is actually part of a binary orbiting so closely, they tug each other out of spherical shapes and whirl around each other every four days.

Explore the Night with Bob King

Right Ascension & Declination: Celestial Coordinates for Beginners

Once you hold the golden keys of right ascension and declination, finding your way around the sky is almost as easy as finding your way around town.

Stargazing Basics

Meet Vega, the Jewel of the Lyre

Meet Vega, the fifth-brightest star in the night sky and the most brilliant star in the constellation Lyra. Vega is in the prime of its life on the main sequence, but it's notable for its speedy spin and infrared-radiating debris disk.

Fomalhaut

Learning About the Sky

Meet Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star

The bright star Fomalhaut, home to three suns plus a planet, peeks over the southern horizon in early autumn evenings in the Northern Hemisphere.

Picture of Rigel and IC 2118

Night Sky Sights

Meet Rigel, Orion's Blue Suede Shoe

The seventh brightest star in the sky, blue-white Rigel shines brilliantly at the left foot of Orion and is actually a trio: a supergiant orbited by a pair of Sun-like stars.

Stargazing Basics

Meet Deneb, the Bright but Distant Star

Deneb, in the constellation Cygnus, is a star that shines brilliantly despite being one of the farthest you can see with the unaided eye.

Photo of Gemini with Pollux and Castor and Canis Minor with Procyon

Stargazing Basics

Meet Pollux, the Red Giant with a Planet

Meet the stars: Pollux, one of the Twins in the sky, is a star that has swelled into its red giant phase while holding onto its Jupiter-like exoplanet, dubbed Thestias.

Grand Canyon Star Party 2013. National Park Service / Kristen M Caldon

Choosing Your Astronomy Equipment

Astronomy for Beginners: How to Get Started in Backyard Astronomy

Astronomy doesn't deserve its reputation as a tough, expensive hobby. You just need to begin with the right advice.

Regulus removed

Stargazing Basics

Meet Regulus, Little King of the Ecliptic

Meet Regulus A, dubbed "Little King" and "Heart of the Lion," among the 25 brightest stars in the sky. The star belongs to a complex system, including a close white dwarf companion that makes its ultimate fate uncertain.

One explosion begets another

Explore the Night with Bob King

Fireworks, Planets, Comets, a Nova — July's Got it All!

July's a busy month for skywatching. Not only are five bright planets in view, but three comets and a newly-discovered nova are also observable. And it all starts with a bang on Independence Day.

Betelgeuse's bow shock

Learning About the Sky

Meet Betelgeuse, the Red Giant of Orion

Betelgeuse, the brilliant red star at the right shoulder of Orion, is a supergiant whose girth extends out to the orbit of Jupiter.

Learning About the Sky

Time Travel for Skywatchers

Time travel is one of the best things about astronomy. Check out two websites that give skywatchers a more visceral sense of stellar distances and how constellations change shape across the sweep of time.

The center of the stellar merry-go-round

Learning About the Sky

Meet Polaris, the North Star

Meet the brightest stars near Earth. Next up: Polaris, the North Star, the star within a degree of the north celestial pole.

Stargazing Basics

Meet Sirius, the Brightest Star

Meet the stars near Earth, starting with the brightest: Sirius, the "Dog Star."

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