10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

So you live in a light polluted city and want to know what you can see in the night sky. Here is a list of 10 astronomical objects that can be easily seen from the suburbs of a city in the Northern hemisphere. The list includes a selection of different objects to give a taster of what can be seen up there. The later ones in the list may be harder to see if the night sky is very light polluted.


1. Moon



Looking at the moon can be a wondrous event. Gazing at the craters, mountain ranges and lunar seas (no water of course) you can almost imagine setting foot on it. It can seem so close. However, for many it lacks the satisfaction that other night sky objects can provide, as there is no challenge in finding it in a telescope. To really enjoy the most from the moon obtain a lunar map and a lunar filter and try to see named craters or landscape features. Many of these can only be seen at different phases of the moon’s cycle, so it can take months to see them all. Plenty to see and easy to locate in a telescope makes the moon take 1st spot.


2. Planets



Jupiter with its 4 moons that circle around the middle, constantly changing places every night you look, The two bands of clouds on Jupiter itself and the challenge of actually seeing the Great Red Spot make Jupiter a great target.


Saturn comes with its majestic rings, to see it in a telescope really brings home its beauty. The challenge is to try and see the break in the rings called the Cassini division in the outer part of Saturn’s rings.


Venus is so bright it is often mistaken as a UFO. When you look at it in the telescope it has phases like the moon.


Mars is the smallest of the four easy planets to see. The red hue is unmistakable and if you look carefully enough you can sometimes makes out the dark surface features and even the polar ice cap.


3. The Pleiades, M45

The Pleiades


Sometimes described as the jewel box of the northern sky or the ‘Seven Sisters’, its lies west of Orion and West of Taurus. This amazing open star cluster can be seen with the naked eye and looks magnificent under low power telescope or binoculars.


4. Albireo


Found in Cygnus this is a double star. When seen through the telescope you can clearly see two stars orbiting each other. This is a great double star to find because the two stars are such strikingly different colours. The big one is a giant orange star and the small one is a hot blue star. The contrast is mesmerising to see.


5. Betelgeuse


This is the giant red star that makes up the north eastern star in the constellation Orion. Its orange glow can be easily seen. This giant red star is so big that if you were to put it where our sun is, its edge would stretch out to reach Jupiter! Near to the end of its life many think this could be the next star to go supernova in the Milky Way. That would make some spectacle to be seen in the night sky and even the day. So keep an eye on this one.


6. The Horse and Rider, Alcor and Mizar


Found in Ursa Major these two stars are easily seen in the telescope, in fact it used to be a test of a warrior’s eyesight if the warrior could see the two stars with the naked eye. Although not companions they are very close to each other. The challenge is to try and see Mizar’s orbiting companion.


7. The Orion Nebula, M42


Orion Nebula M42

This nebula where stars are being born can be seen with the naked eye as the ‘sword’ hanging down from Orion’s belt. It has the appearance of a rose in the telescope. For a real challenge try to see the four stars in the centre that form the shape of a trapezium.


8. The Andromeda Galaxy, M31



This is our nearest galaxy at about 2.5 million light years away. It makes for a fantastic view in the eyepiece and is the most distant object that can be seen with the naked eye. The challenge is to try and see the bright nucleus in the centre of the galaxy and the two small companion galaxies M32 and M110. At the moment we are on a collision course with Andromeda so the view can only get better with time. Although, the collision is expected to occur in around 3 billion years, so plenty of time to see this fabulous night sky object.


9. The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, M13


Great Globular Cluster, M13

This is a fantastic example of a globular cluster of stars. There are estimated to be around a million stars in this cluster. The longer you spend looking at this through the telescope the more new stars seem to appear and sparkle like little diamonds. Make sure you move your eye around the cluster to see this shimmering effect.


10. Two Galaxies M81 and M82

M81 and M82


These galaxies are the challenge in the list. If you can see them they make a great view of two galaxies in one field of view. M81 is the round galaxy and M82 is the cigar shaped galaxy. The different shapes are because you are looking at them from different angles. These galaxies are about 7.5 million light years away.

Related Posts: Observing

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Part 1. Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy

Part 2. Binoculars or a telescope, which should I buy first?

Part 3. 5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

Part 4. Goto or Not Goto? That is the Question

Part 5. How to Set-up an Astronomy Telescope

Part 6. 8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

Part 7. 10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

Part 8. 5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

Part 9. Which Eyepieces Do I Need?

Part 10. 10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

Part 11: How Can I See Deep Space Objects Better?

Part 12: How Can I See More Detail On Planets?

Part 13: How to Dress for Astronomical Success

Extras: Beginner Astronomy Telescopes

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