Getting to know this Program

Understanding the location of the planets will make it much easier to build a pattern of the night sky. The main thing you need to do before you can start looking for something such as Uranus or the Southern Cross is to understand how the Earth moves and how it affects the way we see the sky.


If you are in a City it may be a little more difficult to see clearly as artificial light can affect your view. Wherever you are you will still need to understand how the Earth rotates, and how the stars and planets move over a period of 24 hours.

Knowing How Stars Move

Be prepared to spend time looking at the sky. Rarely will you look up at just the right time and see an array of stars, but by spending time watching, there is a cornucopia of wonders to behold. Remember that the stars will rise in the East and set in the West. While not many will view from the North/South Pole or Equator, it is worth remembering that if these are the vantage points, the stars will move in a different way. The North Pole will see them moving around the North Star while at the equator they move across the sky with perfect accuracy.

Searching Out the Planets

Five of the planets shine more brightly than the others so will be easier to locate. They are Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury. Due to the orbit of the Earth, it appears that the Sun and planets are lined up and this is referred to as the ecliptic. Planets are harder to find than stars however as their orbits are not in sync. It can take just 88 days for Mercury to orbit whereas with Jupiter it is around 29 years. As a result, it is not possible to know accurately where it will appear year on year. Patience is definitely required.

Interested in Visiting Poobservatory?

We allow flexible online booking of visits at the observatory