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Our Night Sky

Gain a superb introduction to the wonders of the night sky with this course-taught by an award-winning astronomer-that explores the fundamentals of stargazing.
Our Night Sky is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 220.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Happy....... The course came with a Planisphere ( 30 - 40 N ) but it's not usable for the area in which I live . I requested a new planisphere by email for my area ( 40 -50 N ) and was turned down. Apparently the Planisphere included in the course is all you get no matter where you live ( not specified in course description. )
Date published: 2023-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course for beginners and advanced amateurs I've been an amateur astronomer for over 40 years and have degrees in physics and astronomy. I found the course to be a great introduction to amateur astronomy with details about telescopes, planetary bodies, stars and some deep space objects. Dr. Murphy provided a fast-paced discussion and covers a lot of material, including how to use basic tools, constellation descriptions and mythology on popular targets. The course was made in 2010 and some of the tables of events shown in the first DVD could use an update. Overall, beginners to the hobby will learn the essentials and advanced amateur astronomers will discover tidbits that they probably didn't know.
Date published: 2023-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I say to follow with great information A friend suggested I buy this course as I am an amateur astronomer. I am so glad I did! I actually watched the entire course in under three days. The deliver was clear and concise
Date published: 2022-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Needed to flip the classroom. I started and stopped this course 3 times over 1.5 years. The professor spoke too fast for me delivering too many useful background facts. So I gave up twice. On the 3rd try I started with lecture 4 moon and sun and followed the advice about drawing the phases of the moon over a month. I found a helpful template on a website suggested by the professor. Next I watched #7 - the northern sky and #11 the summer sky. I bought a planosphere as he suggested and practiced the ‘tours’ from star charts outlined in his lectures. After a few days I when outside with my ‘map’ and planesphere and was pretty successful finding the top 10 constellations on my list. After this practical success I viewed the background lectures. I do think 12 lectures is sufficient as he introduces many other resources to utilize.
Date published: 2022-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative Professor Murphy has the ability to make a very difficult subject easy to understand by using good examples and diagrams of the stars. I find that I have gone back to certain lectures to refresh my knowledge as each season changes. Thanks Professor for being so smart and sharing your incredible knowledge and passion!
Date published: 2022-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A gift that keeps on giving This course is simply a gift that keeps on giving. If you like to look at the night sky then this is a must have. It's an invitation to enjoy our night sky no matter where you are. I recommend getting the digital transcript. It's a virtual feast of information.
Date published: 2022-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great I previously had a good background knowledge on this subject, I decide to attend this couse to learn about wondrium and to test the quality on the contents. I had a great experience and I really learned several new things. Really good course, very precise and also interesting.
Date published: 2022-04-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Purchased as a gift for Grandson I’ve yet to receive feedback from the recipient so I don’t have specifics to share..
Date published: 2022-04-25
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Learn how to feel at home in the limitless expanse of the star-filled sky with the 12 lectures of Our Night Sky. This richly illustrated course is an unrivaled tour of the stars that teaches you about the science, culture, technology, and pure pleasure of stargazing. With the guidance of award-winning astronomer and Professor Edward M. Murphy, you'll get a comprehensive overview of what there is to see out there&;amp;-whether you live in the city or the country, and whether you're a novice or an expert observer.


Edward M. Murphy

My goal is to introduce you to the beauty and the wonder of the night sky, and to give you a basic knowledge needed to feel more comfortable navigating the sky.


University of Virginia
Dr. Edward M. Murphy is Associate Professor, General Faculty at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He earned his bachelor's degree in Astronomy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Virginia in 1996. Professor Murphy was a postdoctoral fellow and an associate research scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he worked on NASA's Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE). In 2000 he joined the faculty at the University of Virginia, where he continues to use FUSE, along with radio telescopes, in his research on the interstellar medium. Professor Murphy teaches courses on introductory astronomy and intelligent life in the universe to undergraduates, as well as seminars on how to teach astronomy to graduate students. He also offers evening classes for the local community at the historical Leander McCormick Observatory. He was named a Teaching and Technology Fellow in 2002-2003 and an Ernest Boots Mead Honored Faculty Fellow in 2003-2004. Dr. Murphy gives astronomy talks, appears regularly on local radio, and leads professional development workshops for teachers. He has also worked with the Science Museum of Virginia to develop planetarium shows and exhibits.

By This Professor

Our Night Sky
National Geographic Polar Explorations
Our Night Sky


The Constellations and Their Stars

01: The Constellations and Their Stars

Begin your study of the night sky by investigating the origin of the constellations-the traditional groupings of stars that mostly date to antiquity. The well-known constellation Orion illustrates the fascinating mix of beauty, mythology, and scientific knowledge to be found wherever you look in the heavens....

34 min
Seeing and Navigating the Sky

02: Seeing and Navigating the Sky

The naked eye is a powerful instrument-if you know how to use it. Learn the best times and conditions for observing, how to identify the positions and magnitudes of stars and planets, how the sky changes over the course of a night, how to use astronomical maps such as a planisphere, and more....

34 min
Using Binoculars and Backyard Telescopes

03: Using Binoculars and Backyard Telescopes

There are many choices when selecting binoculars or a telescope. Learn what to look for in light-gathering power, optical design, magnification, mounts, and other features. Professor Murphy also suggests several tips for getting the best observing experience out of your equipment....

30 min
Observing the Moon and the Sun

04: Observing the Moon and the Sun

Charting the motions and changes of the sun and moon may be humankind's oldest astronomical activity. Discover how both objects offer rich opportunities for study. Also learn the precautions to take when observing the sun, which is the only star that can be seen up close and in detail....

33 min
Observing the Planets with a Telescope

05: Observing the Planets with a Telescope

The rings of Saturn, the bands of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, the polar caps of Mars-these and other planetary features are visible through a small telescope. Learn when viewing opportunities arise for each of the planets and what sights await the dedicated observer....

34 min
Meteor Showers, Comets, Eclipses, and More

06: Meteor Showers, Comets, Eclipses, and More

Explore a variety of special phenomena that are among the wonders of the sky. Some, like bright meteors, aurora, and many comets, are largely unpredictable. Others, like eclipses and annual meteor showers, occur at well-known times-although it may require a special trip to see them....

33 min
The Northern Sky and the North Celestial Pole

07: The Northern Sky and the North Celestial Pole

Embarking on the second half of the course in which you systematically tour the entire sky, study two constellations that are continuously in view from the Northern Hemisphere: Ursa Major and Cassiopeia. Also explore the slowly shifting position of true north in the sky....

32 min
The Fall Sky

08: The Fall Sky

Navigate your way around the autumn sky from the Northern Hemisphere, discovering how the classical myth of Andromeda ties together the stories of the nearby constellations of Cassiopeia, Perseus, Cepheus, Pegasus, and Cetus. The sights include the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest large galaxy to our own....

31 min
The Winter Sky

09: The Winter Sky

Continuing your focus on the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, survey the magnificent winter sky, dominated by Orion. "Star hop" around the region, which includes a wealth of interesting stars, globular clusters, nebulae, and other features, especially the Orion Nebula-the finest nebula in the northern sky-and the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters in Taurus....

33 min
The Spring Sky

10: The Spring Sky

The spring sky opens the view into intergalactic space perpendicular to the plane of the Milky Way. Among the objects visible are the immensely rich galaxy clusters in Virgo and Coma Berenices, which are many millions of light-years distant and can be seen with small and moderate telescopes....

31 min
The Summer Sky

11: The Summer Sky

Arching high overhead in the summer sky is the Milky Way, which is the plane of our galaxy seen from the inside. Tour this densely packed region of stars of all types, from dusty regions of star birth to the exquisite shells of dying stars. Here, a useful orienting feature is the Summer Triangle....

31 min
The Southern Sky and the Milky Way

12: The Southern Sky and the Milky Way

In this final lecture, travel to the Southern Hemisphere for sky views inaccessible from northern latitudes. Discover the famous Southern Cross, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and a spectacular panorama of the Milky Way-along with new myths and stories that add a human dimension to our marvelous night sky....

32 min