What You Can See in the Night Sky

There’s a lot to see in the night sky.  With just your unaided eye, you can see 2,000 to 3,000 stars on a dark night.  But there’s more than stars to see in the night sky.  You can also see…

* The Moon.  Even a quick look at the Moon shows bright and dark areas that give a clue to the early days of our solar system.  And the smallest telescope reveals enough craters and mountains and other surface features to keep you looking for years

* Planets.  Five bright planets can be seen in the night sky.  While not all are visible all the time, it’s a lot of fun to follow the motion of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter against the background stars over the course of weeks and months.  And the sight of Saturn in a telescope is amazingly beautiful.

* Star Clusters.  You can see thousands of star clusters in the night sky with a small telescope.  But did you know the Big Dipper is the remnants of a star cluster?  And the constellation Taurus contains two star cluster, the Hyades and the Pleiades, which are easily seen without optical aid.

* Nebulae.  Look along the Milky Way on a dark night, especially in the constellation Sagittarius, and you’ll see silver-white misty patches.  These are diffuse nebulae, where new stars form.

* Galaxies.  With a good-sized telescope, you can see hundreds of galaxies beyond our own Milky Way.  But even without optics, you can see the Andromeda galaxy, whose light left more than 2 million year ago when our distant human ancestors first began to walk upright.

* Meteors.  Look up on any night and you might see 2 or 3 meteors, or “shooting stars” each hour.  Sometimes, on fixed dates throughout the year, as the Earth passes through the trail of a comet, we’re treated to a meteor shower during which you may see dozens or even hundreds of meteors each hour

So there is much to see in the night sky.  And One-Minute Astronomer will show you how to see it.

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