Mobile-only Menu


Quick Navigation to IPSD Sites

Backyard Stargazing


Stargazing can be as simple as stretching out on a blanket in your own backyard. Here are some helpful guides to navigating the night sky. Keep looking up!


Skies Above 204 is a weekly minute-long video about the current sky for beginner stargazers of all ages. It is created by the WVHS Planetarium for the local (IPSD 204) stargazers.

Sky Maps

Monthly Videos & Podcasts

Articles & Tutorials

Moon & Visible Planets


Sky Maps

Sky Maps are road maps for stargazing. Sky Maps are published monthly for stargazing at a convenient time (typically between 7-9pm). The trick to using a Sky Map is holding it to match the direction you are facing. When you change directions, you need to turn the map. For help finding constellations on your sky map, visit 'The Night Sky' section of Backyard Stargazing.

The Basics to Using a Sky Map
  • Time – When to use the map. Try to stay close to the given time within an hour before to an hour after. Remember the Earth never stops rotating...
  • Stars – Dots. The size of the dot indicates how bright it is. Bigger = Brighter.
  • Greek Letters – Star Brightness. The stars in a constellation are named with the lower case Greek letters with the brightest star being Alpha (the first letter in the Greek alphabet).
  • Constellations – Lines connecting stars. These imaginary lines show us the general pattern of the constellations. They can be different from map to map. Constellations are labeled with every letter capitalized (example LEO).
  • Horizon – For a sky map, it is the large circle or ring. In an illustration, it is the straight line at the bottom of the image.
  • Directions – North, South, East, and West are labeled near or on the horizon. When you face a direction, put the horizon towards the ground. Or need to be able to read the direction you are facing.
  • Zenith – Also called the Overhead. On a sky map, it is in the center of the circle and often marked with an ‘+’. This is the point directly over your head or the top of the sky.
  • Arrows – Guides to helping you find other objects in the sky.


Commonly Accessed Links and Info for Students, Parents and Community