The Sky at Night

Ref: C2338133

An opportunity to explore the night sky, learning about features that you can appreciate without expensive specialist equipment and discovering how and why the night sky changes. The course will cover • assembling and using a planisphere: a very low-tech (paper or cardboard) interactive star map • how the Earth’s daily rotation about its axis and yearly orbit of the Sun affect what can be seen in the night sky • the constellations • types of stars and the relationship between a star’s colour and its temperature • observing, recording and understanding the phases of the Moon • lunar and solar eclipses • why the planets move with respect to the background of stars and how to locate them in the night sky using star maps and position tables • comets, meteor showers and the relationship between them • useful online resources and mobile phone apps

Course aim

The course will provide an introduction to night sky objects that can be observed with the naked eye.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • This course is for anyone who wants to increase their understanding of the night sky. No previous knowledge or experience is needed.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Locate features of interest in the night sky with the aid of a planisphere, star map or position table
  • Describe how the Earth's rotation and its orbit around the Sun determine which constellations can be seen at different times of the year
  • Describe how the relative positions of the Sun, Moon and Earth produce the phases of the Moon and solar and lunar eclipses
  • Make my own astronomical observations
  • Find and use online resources to support my interest in astronomy

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Work outside of class will be optional but the tutor will make suggestions as to astronomical observations you can carry out yourself.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Bring a pen, pencil and writing pad or notebook. All other essential materials will be provided.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full Course information sheet

The Sky at Night

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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