An Improvised Astronomy Class

When looking through a telescope, it’s helpful to know a little about what you’re going to see and what details to look for. To a first-time observer, Jupiter (for example) can appear unimpressive: a small, featureless, pale disk. But if you know to look for the subtle shading of the different cloud bands, or a pink oval (the Great Red Spot), or a tiny black dot (the shadow of a Galilean moon), then those details can leap out at you.

To this end, I’ve created a field guide of sorts. It has some interesting facts about each of the targets I typically can show in my telescope, a photo of what that target looks like in the Hubble Space Telescope or from an orbiting spacecraft — and what it looks like in a telescope like mine. It’s a helpful tool for new observers to see more than they might see otherwise — such as these eager and curious children, lining up to see Jupiter and Saturn last night.

Location: Ft. Tryon Park, New York City