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15 Minute Introduction to the Night Sky

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Start With a Map
Skymap

Skymap

Nick Greene
People have been looking up at the night sky for as long as there have been people. Ancient people had many theories about what those strange lights in the sky were. Today, we know they are stars, like our own Sun, but to the early humans they were magical.

Have you ever looked at the clouds and seen pictures? That one looks like a duck, or that cloud is shaped like Abraham Lincoln's head. Well, as those ancient humans looked at the stars, they began to see patterns too. Some of these pictures they saw, reminded them of stories they had heard. For others, they created stories to fit the pictures. They gave names to the pictures they created and many of these names survive today.

Just as when we travel, we need a road map to find our path, when we search the skies, we need a sky map to lead us to the stars. There are many very good maps for sale at hobby shops that specialize in astronomy, but before spending money, check out the free sky maps you can create here at About Astronomy & Space. These will work just fine for your first forays into the stars.

Things You Will Need:

  • Sky Map
  • Flash Light with red lense. (If you can't find one, wrap a couple of layers of red plastic kitchen wrap around the lens of a regular flashlight.
  • Comfortable reclining lawn chair or blanket
  • Jacket (If it's cool)
  • Compass (if available)
  • Patience
Related resources to 15 Minute Introduction to the Night Sky

Free Sky MapsConstellations in a CannisterAstronomy 101 Free Online Course

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