Sky Observers Hangout

Sky Observers Hangout - Close up of the Moon's surface

When you look up, what do you see?

In this bi-weekly virtual series, our Director of Public Observing Michelle Nichols and Astronomy Educator Adriana Guzman Diaz talk about what it means to observe something in the sky—and show viewers how to do it themselves!

Participants will learn how to use everyday objects to observe the Sun, the Moon, and other celestial objects; try their hand at skills such as nighttime sky photography; see whatever is visible in the sky over their neighborhoods; and find out how to use what they’ve learned to view upcoming cosmic happenings.

No tickets or reservations required to attend Sky Observers Hangout—it’s free and open to everyone! All you need is an internet connection and access to YouTube!

Fall/Winter 2020 Schedule and Topics

For each episode, descriptions, YouTube links, and “Add to Calendar” options will be added a maximum of two weeks before the event. Keep an eye on this page for updates!

September 28: The Fall Sky @ 7:00 pm CT

Chillier days, red and gold leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes aren’t the only changes fall brings! The fall sky brings us new constellations and objects to observe as well—all with their own stories to tell. Cozy up with some s’mores and blankets for this episode of Sky Observers Hangout, in which our hosts help you find some prominent fall constellations and planets in your sky, including related star stories and how to capture them using your smartphone. Set a reminder on YouTube.

Add to Calendar

October 6: Getting Close to Mars @ 8:00 pm CT*
October 13: Getting Close to Mars @ 8:00 pm CT*
October 26: Binoculars, Apps, and Books–Oh my! @ 7:00 pm CT

November 9: How to Choose a Telescope @ 7:00 pm CT
November 30: The Winter Sky @ 7:00 pm CT

December 7: Often-Overlook Meteor Showers @ 7:00 pm CT
December 21: The Jupiter-Saturn Grand Conjunction @ 5:00 pm CT*

*Most Sky Observers Hangout episodes will occur at 7:00 pm CT except those marked with an asterisk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need anything special to watch Sky Observers Hangout online?

Nope! All you need is an internet connection and access to YouTube!

How much does it cost to see a Sky Observers Hangout show?

It’s free!

I think the Adler is doing a great job and I want to support your efforts with a donation. Where can I do that?

We would be grateful if you donated to the Adler! Donations allow us to bring programs like Sky Observers Hangout to our audiences while the museum is closed to the public. No donation amount is too small. Donate here!

What kind of telescopes do you recommend?

We love this question so much, we wrote a blog article about it. Check it out!

How often do Sky Observers Hangout programs happen?

Our shows are approximately every other Monday evening at 7:00 pm CT, but our schedule can vary from time to time if there is something interesting in the sky on another day or at a different time. Please check the upcoming program schedule on this page for details. We also will take a break from shows in the summer to work on new episodes.

Can I interact with Adler staff during Sky Observers Hangout?

Yes! If you are watching us when we’re live on YouTube, send us a message in the chat window. We can see your questions as they scroll by, and we’ll attempt to answer as many of them as we can during the show.

I asked a question during the show. Why didn’t someone answer it?

We will try to answer as many questions as we can during the show, but if the volume of messages and questions is too high, we may not be able to get to everyone’s question or comment.

If we didn’t answer your question, you can always message us after the show and we’d be happy to respond after the program. Email us at askadler@adlerplanetarium.org, or send us a message via social media using the hashtag #LookUp and let us know which show name and air date you are asking about. Depending on the volume of messages, it may take us a few days to respond with an answer.

What if I can’t watch a show when it is airing live...can I still interact with Adler staff if I have a question about something in the show?

Yes! Email your question to us at askadler@adlerplanetarium.org, or send us a message via social media using the hashtag #LookUp and let us know which show name and air date you are asking about. Depending on the volume of messages, it may take us a few days to respond.

How can I get notified about each event?

The best way to get notified about an event is to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

I have an idea for a Sky Observers Hangout show topic, or I know someone who would make a great guest for a Sky Observers Hangout show. Can I send my suggestion to you?

Yes! We would love to hear your ideas. Email us at askadler@adlerplanetarium.org or send us a message via social media using the hashtag #LookUp.

Our show topics generally center around observing the daytime or nighttime sky with your eyes, with a camera, or with a telescope. For topics like the big bang or black holes (things you can’t see through a backyard telescope), check out another one of our online programs Adler Astronomy Live!

Where is the best place for me to go stargazing near Chicago? Can you recommend any dark sky locations?

During the covid-19 pandemic, we unfortunately cannot recommend places to gather. Many parks and other locales have changed their open/close times and some locations may not currently be open, and it is impossible for us to keep up with the access changes. Please check with individual municipalities, park districts, and other agencies for the most up to date nighttime accessibility information.

There are dark sky parks, reserves, and sanctuaries all over the world that are designated by the International Dark Sky Association. Check the IDA website for the most current list. As of mid-2020, the dark sky park in Illinois is the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve near Champaign, IL. Refer to the park’s website for current access information.

How do I know if I am looking at a planet or a star in the sky?

Short answer: stars (usually) twinkle and planets (usually) don’t. The EarthSky website has a great page explaining the details of this phenomenon.

Can you recommend any stargazing apps?

Adler staff use quite a range of apps, and we each have our individual preferences. Some apps we use include Sky Safari, Stellarium, Starry Night, and Night Sky (available on iOS only).

Are you going to use the Adler’s Doane Observatory for a Sky Observers Hangout show? Can I come and visit the Observatory while Adler staff are there?

We may use the Observatory for future shows, but unfortunately, we cannot open the Observatory to general public visits at this time. Restrictions on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic mean that the capacity of the telescope room in our Observatory is limited to two people at a time maximum.

After the Adler Planetarium has reopened to the public and it is safe for more people to gather, we’ll start using our Observatory for in-person general public events again. Trust us—we want to see you in person as much as you want to see us in person! For now, stay home and stay safe, and we will bring the Observatory to you during Sky Observers Hangout.

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