News, Updates, and Resources for Constellations Tonight

Build an LED clipboard

Download article LED Pointers Made Easy (MS Word file).

John French's LED light pointer - Made with an old lens from a slide projector, PVC fitting, and superbright LED

Resource Guide: Books, Articles, and Websites on the Astronomy of Many Cultures from Around the World, by Andrew Fraknoi (Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Foothill College) - annotated listing of over 90 books, articles, and websites that deal with the astronomy of diverse cultures around the world. The readings cover the astronomical work and ideas of South and Central America, Hawaii and Polynesia, Africa, India, and Islamic countries. Also included are the astronomical ideas of the Native Americans of North America, issues relating to people of color in the U.S., plus a small set of readings about Asian and ancient European cultures.

African Skies curriculum book (PDF - 1Mb). Includes African star map on page 17. This product was produced by Lawerence Hall of Science staff for the Learning Technologies Inc. African star cylinder.

Hard Copy Books

    • Brown, Dayle, Skylore from Planet Earth series: Skylore from Planet Earth: stories from around the world...ORION and ...PLEIADES

    • Kitao, Kouichi, Star Lore of Japan: The Starscape of a People. Ama River Publishing, Amhearst, MA. 2002. http://www.amariver.com

    • Kerrod, Robin, The Sky at Night: A Complete Interactive Kit, Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, NY, 2000. Helps beginners identify constellations and locate specific stars, explains astronomical terms and celesstial phenomena. Includes planisphere (42°N), red flashlight, star maps and guides.

    • Miller, Dorcas S., Stars of the First People: Native American Star Myths and Constellations, Pruett Publishing Co. 1997.

    • Native American Sky Lore (Book): Miller, Dorcas S., Stars of the First People, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, Colorado, 1997, ISBN 0-87108-858-4

Story Snippets

From the Winnebago Nation of the Great Lakes region.


On Inuit star maps, the cluster Pleiades is sometimes known as Aggiattaat--a representation of the polar bear encircled by a pack of dogs. Orion's belt represents hunters in pursuit. These figures remain fixed in permanent chase across the night sky. [from Forest Magazine, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, Winter, 2002.]

Quick-facts about Slides of Astronomical Objects in Constellations Tonight


Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)

It is located off of the last star in the handle of the Big Dipper, on the concave side of the handle, in the constellation of Canes Venatici. It is a beautiful face-on spiral, with a companion galaxy and active star formation.

Distance: 37 million ly

The Pleiades (M45)

Best known open cluster of stars, in the constellation of Taurus. Known also as the Seven Sisters in Greek mythology and Subaru in Japanese mythology. There are 6-7 visible to the naked eye, and about 500 total.

Age of the cluster is approximately 100 million years.

Distance: 380 ly

Orion's Belt Region

Shows the three "belt stars" of Orion, and Orion's "sword". Shows the Orion Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula, and a reflection nebula near the Horsehead.

Distance: 1,600 ly

The Great Nebula in Orion (M42)

A diffuse nebula, specifically an emission and reflection nebula. It is the brightest diffuse nebula in the sky, visible to the naked eye. It is a "star nursery", with protoplanetary disks recently discovered.

Distance: 1,600 ly

A gorgeous image from Hubble Space Telescope: A BOW SHOCK NEAR A YOUNG STAR, a treasure within the intense star-forming region of the Great Nebula in Orion. http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2002/05

The Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33)

A dark nebula in the constellation of Orion. A dark globule of dust and non-luminous gas, obscuring the light coming from behind, especially the moderately bright nebula IC 434. It is the most famous section of Barnard's Loop.

Distance: 1,600 ly