High-Tech Tips for Stargazing

Have you looked at the night sky recently? We were so impressed earlier this summer with the Curiosity landing, but when the weather allows, there are so many neat things to see just by looking around the sky!


But what exactly are you looking at? Or how can you know when to look for planets, special star formations, and other celestial sites not always available to see? Look to technology to find some ways to be in the know!

One of my favorite ways to keep up is with Stardate. They can be found on Twitter, or you can see more at their website. StarDate is the public education and outreach arm of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory in Austin, Texas, and provides a great service for knowing what’s coming up to see in the sky.

Do you remember seeing a quirky guy saying “Keep Looking Up!” on his PBS show? Jack Horkheimer Star Gazer (or formerly, Star Hustler) was on PBS for more than 35 years. Jack unfortunately passed away in 2010 but the Star Gazer show continues in his absence. This show is a kid-friendly, but extremely informative presentation of what all those stars and planets are doing. And like Stardate, it is timely, so you’ll know when to be on the lookout! Go to the Star Gazer website to watch episodes online if you can’t find them on your local PBS station.

A neat perspective on how to see what’s up there is provided from none other than our smartphones! There are dozens of apps out there for probably any kind of phone. Load the app, and literally point it to the sky and you can see the names of constellations, stars, planets and more! Just do a search to find one for you, with a range of prices based on functionality. Get your feet wet with some no-cost options: SkyMap Free for Windows Phone, SkyORB for iPhone, or Google SkyMap for Android.

Mr. Horkheimer’s words ring true when it comes to the night sky – “Keep Looking Up!”

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