This Week's Astronomy Video

Eyes on the Sky: Recent astronomy videos

Jupiter at opposition

Jupiter reaches opposition March 8, meaning the next week or two are the best time to see the planet at its largest diameter from our perspective. But, being the largest planet, it will remain quite large for several months, so if you have cloudy skies, there's still plenty of time to see it. Check out the video above for tips on observing our solar system's largest planet. 

Dual shadow transit dates/times:

  • March 15 @ 02:22 UT (10:22pm EDT March 14)
  • March 15 @ 20:50 UT
  • March 22 @ 04:23 UT (00:23am EDT March 22)
  • March 23 @ 23:47 UT (19:47pm EDT March 23)
  • April 1 @ 20:18 UT
  • April 8 @ 22:55 UT (18:55pm EDT April 8 - may be too early to see even on East Coast of U.S.)

Hopefully I converted all of the EDT times correctly - send me a message if I got something wrong. Thanks!

Two more great open clusters in Auriga

Messier 36 is probably the least impressive of the triple Messier clusters in Auriga, but it's worth viewing. Learn how to find it from Beta Tauri (Alnath) with just a single 6th magnitude star to guide you there. Just outside the constellation's shape is M37; a narrow triangle near Theta Aurigae helps point the way there. Alternatively, red dot finder and Telrad users can easily locate these clusters with a bit of simple triangulation.

 A smiling feline leads the way to two open clusters in Auriga

Auriga has a distinctive, if unremarkable shape. But it is punctuated by the bright star Capella, making the constellation easy to find and discern in the sky. Within the confines of the well-known shape are several open clusters. But they are just far enough away from bright stars that it takes a little bit of a star hop to reach them. This video shows how to find Messier 38 and NGC 1907 from the Cheshire Cat asterism in Auriga. 

The five-planet spectacle in the morning sky

From January 27 until February 10 or so, five naked-eye visible planets will be easily visible in the morning sky. Venus and Jupiter are the brightest and easiest to locate. But Saturn and Mars are similar in brightness to two stars along the ecliptic - the imaginary line in the sky near where the planets travel from our perspective. 

To top that off, Mercury isn't easy to see, even when it's best-placed. So the timing of when, where and what date to look is important. Check out the video above for all the details for spotting all 5 planets in the coming weeks. 

Here's a step-by-step written guide to the planets - it includes a sheet you can print and take with you when you go to find these objects in the sky. 

Lunar occulation of Aldebaran; and Comet Catalina

It seems like the Moon should occult bright stars all the time, but there's a lot of space between the stars, so it often misses. But on Jan 19 (evening U.S./Canada) / Jan 20 (western Europe) the Moon will occult - or cover - the first magnitude star Aldebaran. In the video above, Dave talks about features that can be seen on the Moon right around this time. 

Here's that Jan 19/20 lunar graphic.

Also, Comet Catalina is moving it's way north, and will be above Polaris in a couple of weeks. Watch where the 6th magnitude fuzzball is going in the sky. Here's a chart to help you track its progress through the end of January.

The Bull's Eye Cluster (and a nearby one)

The Hyades in Taurus is incredibly easy to find: Locate Aldebaran in Taurus, and the naked eye stars nearby are the Hyades! Or are they? There's more to that story - find out just how far the Hyades extends beyond that simple large "V" shape - and - learn where another nearby open cluster lurks that can be found from the "throat" of the Hyades. 

What else to observe near Messier 42

Messier 42, the Great Orion Nebula, understandably gets observed a lot. It's big, it's bright, for many, it's even colorful! But within a degree of this fantastic object, there are a half a dozen other objects that, if they weren't so close to M42, would be great targets to observe on their own. They just get overshadowed by the large nebula's awesomeness. 

But when you're done taking in the giant cloud of dust and gas, check out these other sights: NGC1981, M43, 42 & 45 Orionis, Iota Orionis, Struve 747 and Struve 745. They're well worth a tiny change in direction of your telescope and the minor adjustment of your eye's attention. 

What to observe first after Christmas? Try these!

So you got a new telescope for Christmas, or perhaps some new astro-accessories. What to view first? Here's a few old friends to seasoned observers, but make perfect "Here's what to view first" for beginners. This video shows how to find them and how to get started observing. 

If you'd like to help financially with Eyes on the Sky taking this step forward, please consider a subscription donation at or a one-time donation by using the Paypal buttons below.

Handheld devices users: To navigate Eyes on the Sky more easily, see the Site Map here.

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Amateur Astronomy

Are you a beginner to amateur astronomy? Start here.

Are you new to all this amateur astronomy, stargazing, learning the stars and constellations and telescope stuff? Eyes on the Sky's "Ultimate Guide to Telescopes and Amateur Astronomy" can have you up to speed on all the basics of finding your way around the night sky, types of telescopes and accessories and those confusing-looking equatorial mounts in about an hour's worth of time.

Linked in to any social media sites? Eyes on the Sky is there too - please follow, like and most importantly share/retweet Eyes on the Sky videos so we can educate about both the night sky AND light pollution issues:

Eyes on the Sky astronomy videos are now closed captioned, allowing for translation into 58 languages as well as benefiting people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Or, watch at work! (Just don't tell your boss.)

Poorly aimed lighting that provides neither security nor safety"Dark-sky friendly lighting fixtures"

I talk about dark sky friendly lighting fixtures a lot - I mention them in most every video, in fact.  But what are they? Find various types of dark sky friendly lighting fixtures here, or try these lighting manufacturers - and if you still have trouble locating them, contact me.  

NEW AS OF JANUARY 2013: The U.S.-based home improvement store Lowes now carries dark sky friendly lighting with the IDA seal of approval - look for them in your store. Got a neighbor with a light shining in your bedroom or window somewhere in your home?  Here's how to approach neighbors about poorly shielded lighting.  You can also find the silver-crown light bulbs highlighted in previous "Dark Sky Facts" from these online retailers:  

"The astronomy field needs more energetic promoters like David. Congratulations to him, and I urge the rest of you to give him your support." - Dave Eicher, Editor - Astronomy magazine


Support "Eyes on the Sky" and light pollution reduction

Making "Eyes on the Sky" every week isn't free.  Not only do I spend 10 to 12 hours on each 5-6 minute video by the time I research, write, shoot, create graphics, edit and upload each video, but some graphics, music, costumes and other things I add all cost money.  So I'd ask one of two things from you: Please either change your own outdoor lights and encourage your neighbors to do the same, or donate a bit towards my efforts to spread the word through these videos.  Even as little as $5 helps - yes, really - but what would help more is a monthly subscription of $3 a month.  That's only $0.69 an episode!  And you don't even need a Paypal account; you can donate or subscribe with any major credit card you see in the button graphic.  Thank you - I appreciate your support!


Step by step guide to finding the five planets
Having trouble locating objects with your new telescope?
Morning Moon, Mars and Venus - Sept 9 and 10
The Summer Triangle - how to locate it
Space is big. Really big.
Find Saturn in the night sky this week and next
The planets that are the bread to an Earth sandwich
Neptune at opposition
Eyes on the Sky on hiatus UPDATE: Now over!
Cold weather observing: Some tips