Friday, February 24, 2012

Winter Sky Scavenger Hunt

Just a few days beyond the new moon, the sky is still dark enough to see plenty of stars – that is, if the weather cooperates. And there’s lots to see, as over the next few weeks night sky watchers will have an opportunity to see five planets over the course of an evening: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (in order from the sun).

So head outside tonight for an astronomy scavenger hunt. You don’t even need a telescope, though a pair of binoculars might come in handy. See how many of these things you can find:

  • a piece of the moon
  • a planet (or 2 or 5)
  • three bright stars in a line (Orion’s belt)
  • a star that never moves
  • a falling star (meteor)
  • the lights of a city
  • an airplane
  • the brightest star in the sky
  • the Milky Way galaxy
  • seven sisters
  • the V-shaped head and horns of a bull (Taurus)
  • a satellite
  • a star that is just rising
  • a star that is setting
  • a constellation that you make up

For up-to-date night sky info check out earth and sky.


  1. This is a nice introductory activity, especially if you have someone help you with it. You can often get help from others in a local astronomy club or at a public observatory. They are usually willing to let you look through their equipment and point out objects to you in the sky. If you live near Candor, NY, look into joining the Candor Astronomy Club, or if you are in the Vestal/Binghamton NY area check out Kopernik Observatory - (607) 748-3222 - Kopernik will be open every CLEAR night from tonight until March 9th to view the close approach of Mars and the other planets. Kopernik is open every Friday night and viewing is possible on clear nights.

    Clear Skies,
    Art Cacciola

  2. Because this winter is so warm, it's the perfect time to do some nighttine stargazing without freezing to death. I just love spotting those same familiar constellations that I first saw as a child. I remember my dad patiently trying to explain how we could connect the dots in our imaginations.

    1. Thanks for dropping by. I remember my dad teaching us about stars while we lay in our sleeping bags under the desert sky.