10-Star Observing Tutorial

10-Star Observing Tutorial

Citizen Sky is now officially permanent part of the AAVSO. In the coming weeks we will be moving additional content to the AAVSO site and freezing this site as an archive of the 1st three years of the project. Please visit the new landing page for future updates.

Observing a variable star takes practice. We have designed a training program that begins with stars that are easy to find and observe. Slowly the stars become more challenging as you go down the list. By the time you reach Epsilon Aurigae at the bottom of the list, you’ll be an expert variable star observer contributing real data to professional scientists!

Click here for a PDF version of our 10 Star Training Tutorial.
  Click here for a Turkish version of the Tutorial.  This packet includes instructions and star charts for each of the 10 stars along with a form you can use to record your observations. Print it out and bring it with you. Make extra copies to give to friends, family and anyone else interested. If you would like to hand out a bunch of these at a meeting, contact us and we can print and mail copies to you.

Begin by observing the stars at the top of the list and then move your way down.

Some of these stars can only be seen during certain seasons of the year. If a star is currently “out of season” for you, just skip it and come back to it later when the time is right. 

  Star Name Season Notes                    
Stars in our 10 Star Training Tutorial (Northern Hemisphere)
1 alpha Orionis Fall, Winter a.k.a. Betelgeuse, a red star in the "arm pit" of Orion
2 eta Geminorum Fall, Winter  
3 gamma Cassiopeia All Year Cassiopeia is an easy constellation to find - it looks like a giant "W" written on the sky
4 beta Persei Winter This star has an entire eclipse in one night! See chart in the PDF file for more info.
5 beta Lyrae Summer  Very easy to find in the summer – it’s next to the bright star straight overhead!
6 R Lyrae Summer  
7 miu Cephei All Year  Note the spelling of “miu”. This is intentional, to replace the greek character “mu”.
8 delta Cephei All Year  
9 eta Aquilae Summer  
10 epsilon Aurigae Winter, Spring  


11-Star Southern Tutorial

Members of our Southern Gems team have created a version of the tutorial that includes stars available to be seen from the southern hemisphere. Below are links to the tutorial in 3 languages:

Stars in our 11-Star Training Tutorial (Southern Hemisphere)
s Star Name
(southern hem.)


1 X Sagittarii Winter  When observing X Sagittarii, you are observing the Milky Way center.
2 W Sagittarii Autumn, Winter  This is actually a triple star system that appears as one star from Earth.
3 eta Aquilae Winter  Discovered in 1784.
4 kappa Pavonis Winter  
5 zeta Phoenicis Winter, Spring  It is usually at maximum light, so catching it in an eclipse takes patience but is also extra rewarding.
6 beta Doradus Spring, Summer  
7 V Puppis Summer  
8 alpha Orionis Summer, Spring  
9 R Doradus Summer, Fall  Need binoculars.
10 I Carinae Summer, Autumn, Winter  the "l" is a lower-case "L", not an "i".
11 (bonus) R Carinae Summer Autumn, Winter  Need a telescope when it is faint.



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