Astronomy Resources

The Sky

Monthly Star Chart

Planetarium ThumbnailThis is an easy-to-use star chart that shows the sky only for evenings in the month indicated. Download and print it for free, courtesy of Cranbrook Institute of Science. Have fun!

July 2012 Star Chart (616 kb)

This month's sky map and images were made using Starry Night Pro software courtesy of


Planisphere ThumbnailDownload your own Cranbrook Institute of Science star chart and constellation finder for free! This is a planisphere that can be set to display the stars at any time of night and for any night of the year. Download and print the Acrobat PDF files below and follow the assembly instructions on the star chart mask. Have fun! Note: To ensure proper sizing, make sure your print options are not set to "fit to page" before printing.

acrobat imagePlanisphere Mask (88,222 bytes)
Planisphere Star Chart (40,227 bytes)

Auroral Map

OVATION: An empirical model of the intensity of the aurora. The model uses solar wind conditions and the IMF at the L1 point as inputs.

The Display: Shows the intensity and location of the aurora as expected for the time shown at the bottom of the map. This forecast is based on current solar wind conditions and the average time for the solar wind to propagate from the ACE satellite at L1 to Earth.

The model produces an estimate of the intensity of the aurora. In this product a linear relationship between intensity and viewing probability is assumed. This relationship was validated by comparison with data from the UVI instrument on the NASA POLAR Satellite.

The sunlit side of Earth is indicated by the lighter blue of the ocean. The sub-solar point is also shown as a yellow dot but only if the sub-solar point is in the view of the choosen image. The day-night line or terminator is shown as a yellow line. Note that the aurora will not be visible during daylight hours and it may be an hour or more before sunrise or after sunset that the aurora can be seen from the ground.

____ The red line about 1000 km equatorward of the aurora indicates how far away viewers on the ground might see the aurora assuming good viewing conditions.

Issue: This model is driven by solar wind data from the ACE satellite. When the proton level gets high enough, the ACE solar wind sensors become contaminated and the Ovation model produces an inacurate forecast.

This information is courtesy of NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.


Sundial ThumbnailDownload your own Cranbrook Institute of Science sundial for free! This sundial has been specifically designed for use in southeastern Michigan. Download and print the Acrobat PDF file below and follow the assembly instructions. Please remember to never look directly at the sun!

adobe acrobat imageSundial (31,816 bytes)


Viewing these PDF files requires Acrobat Reader, a free download from Adobe.

The Sun & Moon

Lunar Phase

Solar Activity

Will the sky by clear?

Below is a link to an indicator that attempts to show at a glance when, in the next 48 hours, clear and dark skies are expected for Cranbrook Institute of Science.

The forecast data comes from a numerical weather model run by Canadian Meteorological Centre.

Click on the link then read from left to right. Locate a column of blue blocks. That is when the sky will likely to be clear and dark.

Cranbrook Institute of Science Clear Sky Clock

Desktop Astronomy

Galaxy Zoo

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Galaxy Zoo is a project which harnesses the power of the internet - and your brain - to classify a million galaxies. By taking part, you'll not only be contributing to scientific research, but you'll view parts of the Universe that literally no-one has ever seen before and get a sense of the glorious diversity of galaxies that pepper the sky.

Interactive Sky Chart

interactive sky chart logoClick on the Interactive Sky Chart image to generate a map of this evening's sky as seen from Cranbrook Institute of Science. For more general information about this week's sky, visit Sky at a Glance courtesy of Sky & Telescope Magazine

Digital Universe

Desktop Universe image

Since 1998, the American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium have engaged in the three-dimensional mapping of data groups ranging in scale from the solar neighborhood to the grand structure of the universe.

This Digital Universe is distributed to you via data products like the Milky Way Atlas and the Extragalactic Atlas.

Using the viewing software, Partiview, you can explore the Universe on your own computer. Fly from the Sun out to the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, and everywhere between.

Purchasing a Telescope

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Buying your first telescope can be very intimidating. Here are some simple pointers that can make the whole experience enjoyable and rewarding.

  • Avoid buying a telescope from a discount store, shoppers club, or a TV shopping network. Those telescopes tend to be lower quality instruments.
  • Buy a major brand name scope from a real telescope dealer with astronomers on staff who will be able to help you after the sale.
  • Ask your local astronomy club members for the name of the dealer nearest you or for the name of a reputable astronomical products mail-order house with which they have had good experiences.
  • Remember, a telescope that is cared for properly will last for decades, so it would be wise to buy the best you can afford.
  • Quality telescopes can be rather expensive items. Even a small telescope, like a 60mm refracting telescope with a 1.25" eyepiece, can cost several hundred dollars.
  • Bigger lenses or mirrors gather more light, the more light you can gather the more objects you will be able to see.
  • If at all possible, join an astronomy club and look through lots of telescopes before you buy one. One of the local astronomy clubs is the Warren Astronomical Society. They meet at Cranbrook Institute of Science every first Monday of the month at 7:30pm.

Space Exploration

Phoenix Mars Mission

new horizons logo

Launched in August 2007, the Phoenix Mars Mission is the first in NASA's Scout Program. Phoenix is designed to study the history of water and habitability potential in the Martian arctic's ice-rich soil.

New Horizons

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New Horizons is designed to help us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system by making the first reconnaissance of Pluto and Charon - a "double planet" and the last planet in our solar system to be visited by spacecraft.


cassini-huygens logo

Get the latest updates on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its moon, Titan, from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Mars Exploration Rover

mars Exploration rovers

Get the latest updates on the Mars Exploration Rover mission to Mars from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


These sites will get you connected to astronomy places around the world.


News and Breaking Stories


NASA, Spaceflight and Astronomy

International Space Station

Astronomical Databases

Sun-Related Information

Meteorite Identification

Local Astronomy Clubs and Observatories