|Ursa Major||Mizar, Alcor|
|Ursa Minor||Polaris||North Celestial Pole|
|Sagittarius||Center of the Milky Way|
|Aquila||Altair||"the Summer Triangle"|
You will be expected to learn to find, and point out, or to identify if asked, all of the things listed above. You should also be able to spell their names correctly.
All of these stars are very bright, and easily visible from any dark location in Ames. Although most of the constellations are fairly bright, city lights can make it quite difficult to see the fainter stars in them, so choose your observing site with some care. Even in the familiar Little Dipper, only Polaris is bright enough to find unless you get well away from lights.
Classes are held in the planetarium, which is free of light and weather problems, but nothing can come close to matching the night sky. Be sure to observe the night sky frequently --- either alone or with friends, as you like, but look and see with your own eyes! Many of the things we will discuss are best observed in just that way. Practice finding planets, stars, and constellations, and note how their positions change. Watch the rapidly changing Moon. Learn to know the sky as a familiar friend. It can tell you the time of day or night or year, even your location on Earth. And perhaps above all, it is a thing of great wonder and beauty, giving rise to profound questions about the nature of our universe and about our place in it.