2012 Spring Sky Watch Challenge: Can you help?

Over the course of the week, I’ve been evolving a plan to help my students become familiar with the naked eye features of the night sky. Each week, students will be given three different items to look for at three different levels of difficulty of finding: Level 1 (easy), Level 2 (moderate), and Level 3 (challenging). They then have one week to spot the items and submit a form with their observations.

So far, the students have been looking for Venus, Jupiter, Mars, the winter triangle, and the Big Dipper. I need help in two areas.

  1. What objects in the northern hemisphere spring sky do you think students should be able to identify? I’d love a list of objects that you recommend.
  2. Since this is a challenge, I would love some fabulous prizes to give away to the students who do well. I have a couple of Galileoscopes I am thinking will work well for grand prizes, but I’d love to have something for all those who make an effort. Do you have any ideas on prizes, OR would you be able to donate some prizes to our class?

Let me know your ideas! I can’t wait to hear your input. My students are really excited to learn about the night sky, and I can’t wait to see what great observations they make.

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.


  1. Louis said the Pleiades cluster and the constellation Orion. I’d add the Hyades cluster, the star Aldeberan in the Hyades, the constellation of Taurus (they all go together). Other things could be the stars Pollux and Castor and the constellation Gemini in which they reside. The Dog Star Sirius would also be good. How many objects do you need? The star Capella and the constellation Auriga are also good naked-eye objects. The constellation Leo is a good adjunct to Mars, since The Lion is currently laying on the planet. Later in spring Arcturus and Spica are easy to identify by following the handle of the Big Dipper. I could go on… 🙂

  2. I agree about the Pleiades and Orion. (They’re the ones I’ve been able to find consistently since I was a teenager.) Finding Polaris from the Big Dipper is another possibility. Casseiopia is the other one I’d suggest.

    For prizes, I’d suggest an inexpensive planisphere, if you can find one that’s affordable enough to get one for everyone.

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