Observing the stars

Explore the Night with Bob King

See the Sun from Other Stars

We journey to distant suns to look back at our solar system and see its place among the stars.

Canis Major

Night Sky Sights

A Bino Tour of the Big Dog

For observers looking for a quick outing with binoculars, Canis Major offers a set of lovely attractions that includes a trio of open clusters.

Horses head to head

Deep Sky

Equuleus, the Constellation Nobody Knows

Often passed over in favor of showier sights, the constellation of the Little Horse has charms of its own. Let's saddle up and go for a ride.

Explore the Night with Bob King

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.

Owl of Atlases Past

Explore the Night with Bob King

Constellations That Might Have Been

Obsolete constellations may be gone, but they're not forgotten. We revisit their brief glories and learn how to find them in the 21st-century sky.

Three in a Row Show

Explore the Night with Bob King

Enjoy Orion in Shirtsleeves

Throw open the door and welcome back Orion at dawn. The Hunter's return brings relief from the heat and gives us a fresh shot at exploring untouched winter deep-sky objects in comfort.

Stargazing Basics

Constellation Names and Abbreviations

Here's all the essential information about the 88 constellations.

Science-based Q&A

If you combine the magnitudes of all visible stars, how bright a star will you come up with?

Just wondering. . . . If you combine the magnitudes of all visible stars (down to 6th magnitude), how bright a star will you come up with? About 9,000 stars are brighter than magnitude 6.5, the traditional criterion for naked-eye visibility. Their combined magnitude is almost exactly –5, which is…

Astronomy Questions & Answers

How can we find the Sun's place among the constellations?

How can I find out how our Sun would look among the constellations, as seen from a nearby star? What made me curious was a painting by space artist David Hardy that pictured the Sun as an extra star in Cassiopeia. Fancy planetarium projectors produce such scenes, but you can…

Where to find Pegasus

Astronomy Questions & Answers

What's my naked-eye magnitude limit?

How can I find out my naked-eye magnitude limit? Count stars inside the Great Square of Pegasus, which is well placed on November evenings. If you can see only two stars within the square, you are reaching visual magnitude 4.6 and your skies are probably light polluted. If you spot…

Astronomy Questions & Answers

How do you pronounce “Vega” and “Canis Major”?

How do you pronounce “Vega”? “Canis Major”? In 1941 the American Astronomical Society formed a committee of Samuel G. Barton, George A. Davis Jr., and Daniel J. McHugh to consult with astronomers, educators, Arabic scholars, and planetarium lecturers and come up with a list of preferred pronunciations for common star…