Tonight, find the Andromeda galaxy

The Andromeda galaxy is the closest big galaxy to our Milky Way. Here are a couple of different ways to find it. Just be sure your sky is dark!

Diagram of w-shaped constellation

Close-up on Cassiopeia the Queen

The constellation Cassiopeia the Queen has the distinct shape of a W or M. Find her in the north-northeast sky on September and October evenings.

Use Big Dipper to find North Star

The 2 outermost stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris, the North Star.

A darkened skyline, with smoke from a chimney blowing sideways and a single star, Fomalhaut, above.

Fomalhaut: The loneliest star

It’s also sometimes called the autumn star for us in the Northern Hemisphere. In its large dark patch of sky, only Fomalhaut shines brightly. Here’s how to see it.

All you need to know: September equinox

We have an equinox coming up on September 23. Happy autumn, Northern Hemisphere. Happy spring, Southern Hemisphere.

Orion’s Belt points to dazzling Sirius

You’ll find Orion and the bright star Sirius up before dawn now. They’ll be shifting into the evening sky as the months pass.

Altair: Bright star of the Eagle

Altair is only 16.8 light-years from Earth, making it one of our closest stellar neighbors. At least 2 features of the star make it distinctive. For one thing, Altair needs only 10 hours to spin once on its axis, in contrast to roughly a month for our sun.

Before dawn, Orion the Hunter

By late August and early September, the constellation Orion is rising in the hours after midnight and is well up by dawn. It’ll continue to rise earlier … and earlier.

Orion and Sirius the Dog Star

A sign of the changing season, Sirius – the sky’s brightest star – is visible before sunup. You’ll know it’s Sirius if the very noticeable 3 stars in Orion’s Belt point to it.

Andromeda galaxy.

Great Square points to Andromeda galaxy

If your sky is dark, you’ll enjoy locating these stars and using this method of finding the Andromeda galaxy.

A large, 3-lobed cloud in space.

See Messier 20, the Trifid Nebula

The Trifid is another famous binocular object, visible in the direction toward the galaxy’s center. Its name means “divided into three lobes.” If you view this nebula through a telescope, you’ll see why.

The constellation Ophiuchus above Jupiter.

Ophiuchus is part of the zodiac, too

Poor Ophiuchus. Nobody ever claims him as a “birth sign,” although the sun moves in front of his stars from about November 30 to December 18. Keep the big guy company. Find Ophiuchus in your sky tonight!

61 Cygni is the Flying Star

Although it’s not bright, 61 Cygni moves exceptionally rapidly against the background of more distant stars. Its motion reveals its nearness to Earth.

Albireo, beloved double star

Albireo is known best for the striking color contrast between its two stars – the brighter gold star and the dimmer blue star.

Dark Rift in the Milky Way

Standing under a dark sky in late July or August? Look up! You’ll notice a long, dark lane dividing the bright Milky Way. This Dark Rift is a place where new stars are forming.

How to find Delta Aquariid radiant point

How to spot the radiant point for the Delta Aquariid meteor shower, going on now. Plus … why meteors in annual showers have radiant points.

Jupiter and Saturn mark the whereabouts of The Teapot and Scutum.

See the constellation Scutum the Shield

Scutum has only has 4 stars that make up the constellation outline, but it’s noticeable in a dark sky because a rich region of the Milky Way is behind it.

Find M4 near the Scorpion’s Heart

If you’ve never found a deep-sky object on your own before, M4 – a globular star cluster, one of the nearest to our solar system – is a grand place to start. It’s near the bright red star Antares in the easy-to-spot constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. To spot it, you’ll need a dark sky.

Delta Aquariids 2019: All you need to know

Late July presents the nominal peak of the Delta Aquariid meteor shower, but this long and rambling shower is officially active from about July 12 to August 23 each year.

Constellation Ophiuchus above the king plane Jupiter.

Ophiuchus, 13th constellation of zodiac

The sun passes in front of Ophiuchus each year from about November 30 to December 18.