This month’s Handbook of Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge theme is
Although we live in a perfect star-gazing position …
high up on a mountain,
breathing in crystal-clear air,
and surrounded by peace and darkness
with no street or city lights …
… it is winter,
and here in the Klein Karoo,
Many of our night-time sessions have been too cloudy and too cold to go outdoors and star-gaze.
In fact, we were most disappointed to miss the renowned Perseid meteor shower when a cold front rolled in with thick clouds and rain.
Here are some websites on the Perseid meteors: (Links updated)
- Star-gazing wonder (Times of Malta)
- Perseid meteor shower to light up night sky this weekend
- The Perseid Meteor Shower, and why it deserves to be made a fuss of
A planisphere is a simple hand-held device which consists of a circular star chart attached at its center to a circular overlay with a window so that only a portion of a map of stars are visible in the night sky of either the northern or southern hemisphere at any particular time. By rotating the wheel, it shows the rising and setting of the stars through the night, how different constellations relate to one another and are visible at different times of year.
Here are some helpful, free star-gazing tools & links:
- Wikipedia what is a planisphere?
- Deep Sky Observer’s Companion – the online database download Southern Star Wheel
- A fabulous website Lie Back and Look Up has these Free Constellation Cards which are really neat and simple, perfect for kids, as well as Summer Sky Map and Summer Sky Map for Kids in What’s up in the sky this month
- Astronomy Magazine – Observing the sky this week with photos
- In-the-Sky.org – Make your own planisphere
We look forward to some clear nights soon and we will all bundle up really warmly, snuggle down and star-gaze.
Hope you enjoy the night sky too!