Bad Astronomy

Crash Course Astronomy Episode 2: Naked-Eye Observing

Astronomy is a funny science. There’s all the technical, physical stuff: orbits, planets, galaxies, stars, and all that. You can spend a lifetime—multiple lifetimes—learning that.

But there’s also going out and doing it. Looking up, observing the skies. And the easiest way to do that is without telescopes, binoculars, cameras, or any other equipment: Just stand (or sit or squat or lie down) under the stars and watch them.

And I mean really watch them. What do you see?

A lot, actually. There’s an amazing amount you can learn about the Universe just by paying attention to what’s going on over your head … and that’s what Episode 2 of Crash Course Astronomy is all about: naked-eye observing.

This week is a great time to go out; the Moon is new, Venus and Mercury still grace the western horizon after sunset, Jupiter is on the rise in the east, and lots of bright, pretty, colorful stars are yours for the viewing.

All you have to do is go outside and look up. Go!

P.S. Don’t forget to watch Episode 1, too.  

Moon and Venus
I took this photo of the Moon and Venus playing hide-and-seek in the clouds just last night. One of the many perks of going outside and looking up.

Photo by Phil Plait