Navigating the skies


Discussion Board Forum 1 Prompt As you begin the course, it is very important that you sometimes walk outside and actually look at the night sky. If you cannot incorporate some naked-eye astronomy into the term, you will be missing out. You have easy access to observe many of the things discussed in the Module/Week 1 reading and the presentation on naked-eye astronomy. During the term, you need to literally see some things for yourself, whether it is the position of the sun at sunrise and sunset; the phases of the moon; the planets; or the brightest stars, clusters, asterisms, and constellations. The Module/Week 1 presentation provides several resources about naked-eye astronomy, which are summarized here, but feel free to find other, similar resources on your own if you prefer. Star Gazers: A weekly, 5-minute program designed to help amateurs with naked-eye astronomy. Browse through past episodes for help with everything from phases of the moon to eclipses to seasonal constellations. Go to What’s Up?: A monthly program found on the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory website. There are many other worthwhile tools on this site, but this one is there to help you with naked-eye viewing. Go to, scroll down to “What’s Happening Now,” and choose “videos,” or just search “jpl what’s up.” Sky Maps: Each month, you can print out a free copy of these “maps,” with versions that correspond with any location on Earth. So while most of us would print out the “Northern Hemisphere” sky map, there are versions for equatorial and southern hemisphere viewers as well. Go to Astronomy Notes: This online “book” includes a chapter on naked-eye astronomy. There are multiple pages, and you will find links to even more sites. Go to Sky Map Online: This website hosts an online planetarium program. See the sky from anywhere in the world at any time of day. Go to Astronomy Applications for iPhones and tablets: There are dozens of these to choose from now. Some are free, and even those that come at a price tend to be inexpensive. Some titles to consider include “Star Walk,” “Sky View,” Sky Gazer,” “StarMap,” and “Star Chart” for iPhone. In no fewer than 250 words, discuss any 2 of these resources (or others of your choosing) that have helped you navigate the skies more effectively. First, discuss the 2 resources themselves, how they assisted you, and how others might also find them useful. Then, briefly summarize what you have been able to find in the night sky as a result of using these resources. The goal here is to get you engaged in using tools to be a better astronomer. Share your own experience in the thread.