It is important for observers to learn the constellations, because they help map the locations of the objects and events that are to be observed in the sky. The most frequently asked question that I get from the uninitiated person someone interested in star gazing, or locating a comet that has perhaps been in the news, is “where in the sky do I look?” This project, the centerpiece of Jim Johnson’s Astronomy, seeks to answer that question, and to provide additional information for stargazers wishing to gain a more sophisticated understanding of how the night sky works.
The Constellations Project can best be described by decomposing it into the four phases and describing those phases. I have also provided the status for each phase, and either links or instructions for accessing the content that has been developed in pursuit of the project.
Phase 1: Begin publishing a monthly newsletter written at a beginner to intermediate level to acquaint readers with what can be observed in the night sky each month.
Status: Completed April 2014 by publishing the first edition of Scope Out Next Month. Every edition is available in the Scope Out Archive.
Phase 2: Write descriptive material for all of the constellations that an observer at a mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere can see over the course of a year.
Status: Completed December 2014. This content can be found by clicking on the Constellations category on the left menu, or by searching for a specific constellation using the search tool on the top menu bar.
Phase 3: Post articles that progresses from how to read a basic and static star chart to an understanding the dynamics of how the night sky moves over time, and how various solar system object move through the night sky.
Status: Started in January 2015, and remains in progress. Expected articles are:
- How to begin to Observing the Night Sky (Complete)
- Understanding a Star Chart (Complete)
- How the Night Sky Moves
- How to use a Planisphere
- How to use Planetarium-type Applications on a Mobile Device
- The Sun and the Ecliptic
- The Movements and Phases of the Moon
- The Movements of the Planets
Phase 4: Offer public speaking engagements to deliver talks based on the content developed in Phases 2 and 3.
Status: Not started. Very anxious to get all of the pieces (Phases 1 through 3) in place so that I can begin Phase 4.
Please let me know if there is something that you would like to see in the project. Check back often to see my progress, or to see how the project might have morphed into something else.
© James R. Johnson, 2015