SPA Telescopes for Schools
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The phase of the Moon right now

Phase
 
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Moon in daylight
The gibbous Moon in daylight
What's Up Tonight?

One of the trickiest tasks when you want to start observing is to know what can be seen up on the sky on a particular date and time. Here are some tips for sites to go to and objects to observe.

Top tip
You needn't wait till it gets dark to begin observing, as the Moon can often be seen during daylight hours. But pick your time carefully. Look in the east in the morning at first quarter and for a few days after, and in the west during the afternoon a few days before and up to last quarter. You will need a good, clear sky – hazy skies can be a problem.

Is it going to be a clear night?
Check out the weather and clouds at the Met office site http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/satpics/latest_uk_ir.html

Get to know the sky
The SPA's own Young Stargazers' site has a monthly skyguide which makes it easy to start learning how to read star maps and pick out the more important constellations in the early evening sky.
Orion Nebula
The Orion Nebula is bright enough to be
visible even from light-polluted areas

Check out when the Sun sets, and when stars are visible
Go to the Heavens Above website.  Remember to type in your location (observing site), and click on Sun. When ‘astronomical twilight’ ends, you can see stars easily – this is later than the time of sunset.

Check the phase of the Moon and what else you can see
Once you have registered your observing site, Heavens Above also gives a starmap for your precise location and time, and also shows you if the space station is visible tonight. Can you identify craters and features on the Moon? Can you find the Apollo landing sites?

Extra things to see
Can we see shooting stars tonight? The SPA meteor section has information on meteor showers.

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    Schools' telescope

    The schools' telescope

    What it will show

    Telescope safety

    What's Up Tonight?

    Useful links

    Help with Telescopes for Schools

    DVD clips

     
    spacerMaintained by SPA Webmaster: Last modified 4 January 2009
     
    International Year of AstronomySociety for Popular AstronomySociety for Popular Astronomy