Astronomy Guide

This guide initially displays things that you may be able to see over the next few weeks. Use the selector below to find items by name, regardless of time of appearance.

For more local information join the Pajarito Astronomers and watch for Los Alamos County-sponsored Dark Nights.

Astronomy References

Archaeoastronomy (solstices and equinoxes)
MrEclipse
NASA (eclipses, transits, moon phases)

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

Web Development and Content Management

Pat Bacha
Jennifer Macke
Graham Mark
Akkana Peck

Contact

Please contact us for local nature questions and sightings. We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to our guides.

For more information about local nature, please visit our Nature Blog or subscribe to PEEC This Week.

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Showing 6 of 179 items.
Lyrid Meteor Shower

Photo: Nick Ares

Lyrid Meteor Shower

Visible with the naked eye
Apr 22 - Apr 23


Peak of the meteor shower named after the Lyrid constellation where the meteors appear to be coming from.

Galaxies M81 and M82

Photo: Markus Schopfer

Galaxies M81 and M82

Visible with a telescope
Feb 15 - May 15


M81 and M82 are two relatively close and bright galaxies in Ursa Major. They are bright enough to be visible in binoculars, barely, but it takes a telescope to show M82's unusual shape.

Leo

Photo: Till Credner

Leo

Visible with the naked eye
Mar 01 - May 30


Leo the lion, high in the south. It really does look like a lion. A telescope will show an assortment of far-away galaxies near the lion's belly.

Coma-Virgo Galaxy Clusters

Photo: Hubble Space Telescope

Coma-Virgo Galaxy Clusters

Visible with a telescope
Apr 01 - Jun 30


The constellation Coma Berenices -- literally, "Berenice's Hair" -- is faint and not much to look at, but there are around 1300 galaxies in the Virgo cluster, and over 1000 in the fainter and more distant Coma cluster. You do need a telescope for this one, but if you are interested in galaxies, this might be a good time to visit a star party, like one of the Pajarito Astronomers' dark sky nights.

Sombrero Galaxy

Photo: HST, NASA and ESA

Sombrero Galaxy

Visible with a telescope
Apr 15 - Jun 30


The Sombrero Galaxy, or M104,is an interesting spiral galaxy with a prominent dust lane. It is barely visible in binoculars on exceptionally clear nights. You will need a telescope to see the dust lane, though. Find it from the trapezoid of Corvus.

Big Dipper

Photo: Montrealais

Big Dipper

Visible with the naked eye
Mar 01 - Jul 01


The Big Dipper is part of the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The two stars at the end of the ladle point to Polaris, the North Star. Follow the arc in the handle to the bright star Arcturus. The Big Dipper is circumpolar, meaning it is always visible, but it is highest in spring.