Let Orion Lead You On Winter Night Sky Tour

Even though it is cold, Winter can be the best time of year for stargazing, because low humidity brings clear skies. The sun goes down early too, so it gets plenty dark to take the kids out before bed time. Bundle up and go outside to see some of the brightest stars and popular constellations. Let Orion be your guide to the winter night sky. The belt points to some of the brightest stars in the sky and Orion’s sword contains one of the best known and most photographed nebulae in the sky, the Orion Nebula (Messier 42). Follow the line formed […]

Best Mars Viewing In 32 Years Happens Tuesday

The fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the night sky. Remember to bundle up and maybe fix a mug of hot chocolate. October started with a full moon, the Harvest Moon, and will end with a Halloween Blue Moon. A second full moon in the same calendar month only happens about once every 3 years, so don’t miss it. Mars viewing will be at its best until 2052. The peak will be Tuesday, October 13, however viewing should be excellent until the end of October. Look directly due east one hour after sunset in the middle […]

America’s First Astronomers – Native Americans

  Did you know that the first astronomers in America were Native Americans? Although the original inhabitants of North America did not leave a written language, they did leave behind rock art, pottery, and architecture indicating that Native Americans were studying the night sky long before the voyage of Columbus. Some archaeologists believe that a star and crescent symbol on a panel near the Penasco Blanco ruin in Chaco Canyon represents the AD 1054 Crab supernova explosion. The ancient Chinese also recorded this same celestial event as reported in a previous Name a Star blog.   The Mimbres of New […]

Ancient Chinese Dragon Bone Star Charts

  The first star charts were inscribed on dragon bones by Chinese astronomers in the 14th century B.C.E. Actually, the bones were ox shoulder blades or tortoise shells. They were called Oracle Bones or Dragon Bones because diviners or fortune tellers would carve star patterns or symbols, then crack the bones with a hot poker. The cracks would be interpreted to tell the future. NASA astronomers used fourteenth-century B.C.E oracle bones to help determine how much the earth’s rotation is slowing down. Based on analysis of the tortoiseshell inscriptions, astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena reported they had […]

Astronomy Learning Resources

Most schools are distance learning. Some are doing it right. Some leave a bit to be desired. To supplement their curriculum, here at Name a Star we put together a helpful guide for your budding astronomer or scientist. There is still plenty of summer weather left to get outside to enjoy the night sky, so round up your kiddos and take them outside tonight to have fun learning something new! Would you like to know if sharks could live in space? Of course you do. Discover this and more from The Discovery Channel on TV and online. There is also […]

Why Does Old Glory Have Stars And Stripes?

We were all taught the meaning of the American Flag design when we were in grade school, but do you remember? Here’s a quick refresher, plus some fun history you may not know. The flag of the United States has 13 horizontal stripes, alternating red and white, which represent the original Thirteen Colonies. In the upper left corner is a field of blue with 50 white stars, which represent the 50 states. This is the 27th version of the US flag. It was ordered by President Eisenhower in 1959 after Alaska became the 50th state and adopted by Congress in […]

Why Stars Change With The Seasons

Have you ever noticed that your favorite constellation is not always visible in the night sky? For example, the belt of Orion the Hunter is easy to spot in the winter, but nowhere to be seen in the summer. Where do the stars go? The short answer is that they are still out there shining during the day when you can’t see them. To understand, remember that the earth rotates on its axis every day, while revolving around the sun every year and you can only see the constellations at night, when your part of the earth is facing away […]

Hawaiian Star Gazing: Past and Present

What do stargazing and Hawaii have in common? A lot it turns out. The largest research observatory in the world is located on Mauna Kea, the Big Island of Hawaii. Arrive at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station (VIZ) before dark, so you can enjoy the exhibits and the best sunset on the island. The VIZ is named after the Hawaiʻi born astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. Did you know that you can see the stars better at the 9,200 foot VIZ, than you can at the 13,796 foot […]

Star Watch With Your Kids For Father’s Day

Want to have fun with your kids on Father’s Day? Make a game out of viewing objects in the night sky. It can be silly or serious, depending on the age and interest of you children. Try Night Sky I Spy. The “spy” names a constellation or prominent star and says something like “I spy with my little eye a Big Dipper, where is it?” or “I spy an elephant, where is it?” The players then try to point out what the “spy” sees. If you need some help recognizing summer constellations, check out Sky At Night Magazine. You can […]

Observatories and Planetariums Near Me

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the night sky? Did you know that most states have an observatory or planetarium open to the public? For example, there are two observatories within an hour’s drive of Name a Star offices in Bend, Oregon. Pine Mountain Observatory has multiple telescopes and free camping. In the summer volunteers often bring out their own telescopes to assist visitors in stargazing. View the night sky from over a dozen telescopes at Trip Advisor’s top rated observatory, Sunriver Observatory. Participate in a laser-guided constellation tour outdoors or come during the day to visit the […]