illustration of the earth's rotation and the ecliptic

Resources and Education

¿Qué es la Eclíptica?

La eclíptica, dicho de manera simple, es el plano de la órbita de la Tierra alrededor del Sol.

Moon nearly first quarter

Astronomy and Stargazing Projects

Getting Started with Your New Telescope

How to start successfully with a new telescope — a guide to what you need to know, how to set it up, and things you can start finding with it in tonight's sky.

full Moon

Stargazing Basics

Native American Full Moon Names for 2023

Native American tribes each had their own full Moon names — we introduce the most commonly used ones and the traditions behind them.

illustration of the earth's rotation and the ecliptic

Resources and Education

What Is the Ecliptic?

The ecliptic, simply put, is the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. It extends beyond that to include the seven other planets.

Labeled Big Dipper

Night Sky Sights

The Big Dipper: Hop to Spring's Sky Sights

The Big Dipper is one of the most familiar sights in the Northern Hemisphere’s night skies. You can use its stars to locate other fun targets.

Learning About the Sky

A Quick Tour of Orion, the Hunter

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

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.

Learning About the Sky

Astronomy Books: Wrapping Up 2017

Read our reviews of books covering everything from stars and galaxies to the Moon and planets, perfect for amateur astronomers and space fans.

Learning About the Sky

Stargazing Simplified: What to See in the Night Sky

Learn some of the classic stargazing sights that can be best viewed through a smaller telescope.

Messier Observer's Planisphere

Learning About the Sky

Learn Constellations with a Planisphere

How do you find out what stars are visible tonight? With a planisphere or "star wheel." It's easy!

Gemini on Sky Atlas 2000.0

Stargazing Basics

How to Use a Star Chart with a Telescope

Here's what you need to know to navigate the heavens with a telescope and star atlas.

Follow R CrB's changing light

Learning About the Sky

Star Charts: A Vital Resource for Learning the Night Sky

Our Constellation Basics webinar provides background information about the major winter constellations. Here are some accompanying online resources.

Explore the Night with Bob King

Asterisms for Winter Nights

Asterisms appeal to our playful side but also serve as key waypoints in the sky for identifying fainter stars and constellations.

Crescent cradles the 'old moon'

Solar System

Earthshine, the Moon's Darker Side

Explore the Moon's dark side with the aid of earthshine.

Star Wheel

Astronomy and Stargazing Projects

How to Make a Star Wheel the Simple Way

Would you like to be able to navigate your way around the night sky with confidence? Using this simple, easy-to-make Star Wheel, you can "dial the sky" for any time or date.

A Real Mover

Learning About the Sky

Astronomy for Beginners: Getting Started in Astronomy

An easy guide to exploring the universe is just a quick download away. This PDF document contains valuable tips for beginner stargazers, a detailed Moon map, and six bimonthly star charts for either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

Orion Nebula

Celestial Objects to Observe

Fuzzies in Your Future:
An Introduction to Deep-Sky Objects

Ready to voyage beyond the Solar System? Here's what you can see.

M13 from a backyard

Learning About the Sky

Names of Deep-Sky Objects

Expert observer Brian Skiff explains NGC, UGC, and everything in between.

Ursa Major from Urania's Mirror

Stargazing Basics

Star Names: Where Do They Come From and What Do They Mean?

Confused by the bizarre names that astronomers have given the stars? Here's where they come from and what they mean.