Generally, on a clear night, you can see a few bright stars, planets (look like bright stars), the Moon (if it is around), satellites, meteors and if you know where to look, galaxy!
This is the unaided view, that means without any optical aid like binocular and telescope. The number of objects you can see when using a telescopes will increased many times as the telescope size increase. I don't want to go further than this, as I am aware that almost all of us do not own a telescope and we don't even know how to differentiate a planet from the stars.
What you can see depends on many things.
If you are living in the village or far away from town, you can see more stars. This is because there are less light pollution. When you stay in urban area, there will be more light pollution, from house or building, street lamps and vehicles. I can safely say that 90% of us are living in the city. Even then, you should expect to see the objects I mentioned earlier, if you know where to look at.
The stars in the sky appeared like clockwork all year round. Every night in the month of February, you should be able to see the constellation of Orion. I know that many of us, at one time, look up in the sky and see 3 stars forming a line. If you have, congratulation! This is part of the constellation of Orion. Other than Orion, you can also see the constellation of Taurus, Gemini, Leo and many more on the same night.
In August, on the other hand, all those constellations have set. Replacing these constellations, are the constellations of Scorpions, Saggitarius, Capricornus, Aquarius and many more. Anytime in between, there are constellations that rises and setting. To know what constellation can be seen at any time, go to www. heavens-above.com and look refer to the sky chart.
Planets are not found in the sky chart. They do not stay in one constellation all the time. Planets like Venus and Mercury stay close to the Sun, therefore seen only a few hours before or after sunset. As it is very bright, most people confused Venus with a satellite. Planet like Mars is seen best every two years. Saturn and Jupiter look like a bright stars and can be seen almost throughout the year. Other planets will be too dim for us to notice.
A few hours before sunrise or after sunset is the best time to see satellites. If you see a light, similar to airplane, minus the strobe lights, there is a big chance that you are seeing a satellite transitting across our sky. It can go from any directions, taking about 2 minutes to go from one end to the other.
Sometimes, you can also see a meteor shooting across the sky. At any time, there can be an average of a few meteors every hour. However at certain time of the year, there may be more meteors appear per hour. Such time are in 12-14 August, 17-18 November and 12-14 December. These times are the annual meteor shower of Perseid, Leonids and Geminids. During the Geminids meteor shower in December 2004, we saw over 1000 meteors in one night!
Sad to say, weather in Malaysia is not very encouraging for astronomy. Most night are either cloudy or raining. Even when clear, it is seldom that it last through the night. Cloud diminish our chances of seeing stars. If it is cloudy, you can't see the stars even if you have the biggest telescope in the world.
However, there are still many nights that are condusive for observation. So, keep your hopes up.
Copyright © 2008 Perseid Sdn Bhd.By Trilobyte