Knowing the Sky

Enjoying observational astronomy can just be about looking at objects using a fully computerised GoTo telescope. But finding the objects yourself or understanding the context of the sky they lie within is immensely rewarding. So we always recommend that new amateurs start by looking at the night sky with their own eyes and perhaps a pair of binoculars; no more powerful than 10 x 50 (10 x magnification and each lens at the front is 50mm in diameter). Using the constellations and asterisms to navigate by is very effective at getting you close to any object and a simple search pattern in the much reduced area will often find the object quickly and easily. Even GoTo telescope owners are best advised to learn such things as calibrating a mount requires guide stars to be visible and this is not often the case when there is cloud about.

To help you acquire this knowledge, here is a short series on useful constellations to know:

Constellations

Eridanus
Eridanus

  Meaning: The River Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Monoceros
Monoceros

  Meaning: The Unicorn Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Lynx
Lynx

  Meaning: The Lynx Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Camelopardalis
Camelopardalis

  Meaning: The Giraffe Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Lacerta
Lacerta

  Meaning: The Lizard Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Draco
Draco

  Meaning: The Dragon Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Cancer
Cancer

  Meaning: The Crab Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Cepheus
Cepheus

  Meaning: The King of Ethiopia Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to ...

Aries
Aries

  Meaning: The Ram Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: γ ...

Cygnus
Cygnus

Meaning: The Swan Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: The Milky ...

Gemini
Gemini

Meaning: The Twins Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: Castor and ...

Triangulum
Triangulum

Meaning: The Triangle Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: M33 ...

Orion
Orion

Meaning: The Hunter Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Cetus
Cetus

Meaning: The Whale, the Sea Monster Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to ...

Auriga
Auriga

Meaning: The Charioteer Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: ...

Taurus
Taurus

Meaning: The Bull Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: The Hyades; ...

Pisces
Pisces

Meaning: The Fishes Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things to look for: Uranus; ...

Perseus
Perseus

Meaning: The Hero, the founder of Mycenae Print out the star map from Sky and Telescope Things ...

Andromeda
Andromeda

Meaning: The Princess of Ethiopia, the Chained Woman Print out the star map from Free Star ...

Pegasus
Pegasus

Meaning: The Winged Horse Print out the star map from Free Star Charts Things to look for: Try ...

Cassiopeia
Cassiopeia

Meaning: The Queen of Ethiopia, the Seated Queen Print out the star map from Free Star Charts ...

Ursa Major
Ursa Major

Meaning: The Great Bear Print out the star map from Free Star Charts Things to look for: ...