February 03, 2014

Astronomy News - Sky Chart

Astronomy News: What's Happening In The World Of Astronomy?

Author: Gary Nielson

When there are billions of stars in the galaxy, there are a billion and one reasons for an amateur astronomer to stay up at night to watch the sky. If you've been bitten by the stargazing bug, give in. It's a very enjoyable hobby. To help you get started, here are some things you might want to know:

Get A Sky Chart

A sky chart or a field guide can help you find where the stars are in the heavens. Since their positions change depending on the seasons, you can use the sky chart to help you find a particular star immediately. You can also map out the locations of different constellations and recognize any star in the night sky by simply referring to your sky chart.

Those more tecnologically miden might prefer to use astronomy software either on a laptop or a mobile phone to simulate the night sky so identifying celestial objects is easier.

What To Look For

The star that shines brightest in the northern hemisphere is Sirius. You might also want to find Polaris, the North Star. If you're a little lost, you can look to the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) to show you the way. Find the 'bowl' or 'ladle' of the Dipper. The two stars located away from the handle are the Pointer Stars, called Dubhe and Merak. Follow where they point straight towards the North and you will find Polaris.

Don't forget to enjoy the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus and other constellations – there are 88 of them (about half in the Southern hemisphere), some of which are visible at different times of the year.

You can also watch for falling stars or meteor showers. Their appearance is usually announced on TV and in newspapers. On special nights, you can enjoy hundreds of meteors streaking across the night sky.

Star Light, Star Bright

Stars are categorized by brightness, which is measured by magnitude. The magnitude scale has the brightest stars having 0 or even negative magnitudes. For example, Sirius has a magnitude of -1.46. Vega, a star that shines bright during summer, has a magnitude 0. Polaris has a magnitude 2 and Antares has a magnitude 1. Stars with a magnitude of 29 need the Hubble Space telescope to be seen and get this: they are 250,000,000,000 times less bright than Vega.


As a newbie astronomer, you don't really need a telescope to enjoy stargazing. It's best to familiarize yourself first with stars and constellations using just your naked eye at first. You can also use a good pair of astronomy binoculars since these will do the job nicely. Buy a telescope only if you're already familiar with the night sky and enjoy it to the fullest.

Final Thoughts

One of the major benefits of learning astronomy is the ability to observe rather than just look. The moon is one heavenly body that everyone is used to seeing. To the observant astronomer, the moon actually passes through a cycle of phases that lasts for twenty eight days.

When you begin to notice the subtle differences in the position and phases of the moon, it is evident that you are now in tune with the moon's distinct rhythm.

The planets also travel across the sky during the year and change position from year to year as the amount of time they take to orbit the Sun is different to the Earth.

Probably the most elusive objects are the comets. Asteroids are discovered pretty regularly, but they tend to have well defined and predictable orbits. This is also the case with some comets but many others are on a one-time visit to the inner solar system, and will be flung out into interstellar space as they pass close to the Sun. There's only a short amount of time to see these objects before they're gone forever.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/education-articles/astronomy-news-whats-happening-in-the-world-of-astronomy-4898701.html

About the Author

Learn more about astronomy. Stop by Gary's site where you can find all the latest astronomy news. Astronomy News: What's Happening In The World Of Astronomy?