Tools for Identifying Celestial Objects

Tools for Identifying Celestial Objects

Heavens Above Interactive Sky Chart

This is a super easy, fun-to-use chart. Set your location, enter a day and time for when you want to tour the sky, then view the chart online or print a handy PDF. Overhead stars and planets are made easy to identify. Other fun things to do on the chart page is to tap repeatedly on the Day or Hour + button to see how the sky changes from day to day or hour to hour, or enter the day and time of a special event like your birthday. The link is preset to Nashville.

Heavens Above Satellite Spotting

This is a great resource for nightly satellite spotting (including the ISS). Enter your location and date then click on the purple time for the satellite you are interested in to bring up a chart. The easiest ones to see have the highest altitude and a negative or low-integer magnitude. For example, -3 magnitude is very bright and 3 magnitude is somewhat dim.


Another great resource is the web browser-based version of the renowned Stellarium. It does not have as many bells and whistles as the full program, but it is still rich with features and does not require any installation.

In the Sky

This site has an interactive planetarium that is somewhat like Stellarium but easier to use because all of the controls are visible at one time. It is not as visually stunning as Stellarium, but it is really nice to use. Our Dr. Billy utilizes it for some of his course assignments.

Comet Visualizer

The Lyrid meteor shower peaks the night of April 21 into the following morning. Typically this shower features 10 to 15 meteors per hour at its peak, but outbursts may reach 100 meteors per hour. The best viewing is 10pm-dawn. Try this nifty visualizer. 

Make a Sun and Moon Calendar

Make a full-month calendar page that will tell you each date’s Sunrise, Sunset, Moonrise, and Moonset. You may choose from locations around the world.