Seeing Stars

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Photo courtesy Fotolia/clearviewstock
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.

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.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368