The Big Dipper hangs high in the northwest at nightfall these warm evenings. Bright Jupiter shines in the west, while Vega shines high in the east. These are just a few of the celestial sights you can find on any clear night during the last half of May and all of June using this sky map. Here's how.
Check the dates and times at the top of the page. Take the map out under the night sky within an hour or so of the right time, and bring along a flashlight to read it by. It helps to rubber band a piece of red paper over the front of the flashlight: the dim red light won't spoil your night vision.
Outside, you need to know which direction you're facing. (If you're unsure, just note where the Sun sets: that's roughly west.) Hold the map out in front of you, and look at the yellow labels around the edge. Turn the map around so the yellow label for the direction you're facing is right-side up.
The curved edge is the horizon. The stars above it on the map match the stars in front of you. The farther up from the map's edge they appear, the higher they'll be in the sky.
The center of the map is the zenith (straight overhead). So a star halfway from the edge of the reap to the center will appear halfway from straight ahead to straight up. Ignore all the parts of the map above horizons you're not facing.
Let's give it a try! Turn the map around and hold it so its west horizon (labeled "Facing West") is right-side up. Above that horizon is brilliant Jupiter. To Jupiter's lower right is the fainter star Regulus, the brightest in the constellation Leo. Go out at the right time. face west - and there they are!
A couple of tips: Look for the brightest stars and constellations first; light pollution or moonlight may wash out the fainter ones. And remember that star patterns will look a lot bigger in the sky than they do here on paper.
With this map you can identify celestial sights all over the sky. Go out the next clear night and make some new starry friends!
You can customize a night sky map for your location at SkyandTelescope.com.
You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.