Choose from a spectacular, fulldome show in state-of-the-art Sudekum Planetarium; hands-on, interactive, science exhibits; or one of our award-winning programs like daily Science Live! demonstrations, 3D Printing Workshops, ScienceQuest Camps, Science Cafes, and other special events.

  800 Fort Negley Blvd., Nashville, TN 37203

 OPEN DAILY: Mon-Sun,10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 CLOSED: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day

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Star Charts


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July 2017

After Sunset

Look in the northwest for the Big Dipper. As famous as the Dipper is, it’s not always easily visible from our latitude in Tennessee. During the autumn, it stays hidden near the northern horizon, only to emerge in the wee hours of the morning. But in the spring and early summer, the Dipper is easy to find shortly after sunset.

The Big Dipper is not officially a constellation; it’s what astronomers sometimes call an asterism. The Big Dipper is a familiar name for this pattern of stars, especially known to observers in the United States, but it’s not one of the 88 constellations recognized by astronomers worldwide. Ursa Major the Great Bear is the official constellation here, but you’ll need dark skies to see its fainter stars.

Use the two stars at the end of the Dipper’s bowl to lead you to Polaris, also known as the North Star. Polaris is not a particularly bright star, but it does remain fixed in the sky throughout the night and throughout the year, When you face the North Star, you’re facing due north. Polaris is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. This group of stars is also officially known as Ursa Minor the Little Bear.

Go back to the Big Dipper and follow its curved handle to trace an ‘arc’ to Arcturus, the orange colored star in Boötes the Herdsman. Then speed on to Spica, the single bright star in Virgo the Maiden. Neither of these constellations has any other bright stars. Even under dark skies away from city lights, it’s hard to imagine these mythological figures just by connecting the dots.

Not too far from Spica is the bright planet Jupiter. If you have binoculars, you may be able to see the giant planet’s four largest moons. Watch Jupiter’s moons over several nights to watch them orbit around their parent planet. If you have trouble steadying your binocular view on Jupiter, try leaning them up against the side of a building or another steady surface.

A small telescope not only shows the moons of Jupiter, but also its cloud bands. Jupiter has stripes! Look for our own Moon next to Jupiter on July 28.

Look almost straight overhead for the constellation Hercules and the globular cluster known as M-13. Four stars of Hercules make up a trapezoid shape many people call the Keystone. As the Keystone passes overhead, imagine it holding up the arch of the sky!

To the east, look for the three bright stars that make up the Summer Triangle. Low in the south you may find the bright red star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion, and just to its left is the even brighter planet Saturn. A backyard telescope will easily reveal the rings of Saturn, but binoculars will only show the planet as looking slightly oval in shape. Under very dark skies, look for the Milky Way stretching from Scorpius through the Summer Triangle, and on toward the northern horizon.

Stay Up Late

Stay out past midnight and look toward the east to see the Summer Triangle high overhead. Autumn constellations such as Pegasus the Flying Horse and Andromeda the Princess appear in the east. The Milky Way leads you from the southwest horizon, past Cassiopeia the Queen, and on to the northeastern horizon.

A Look Ahead

As the Earth orbits the Sun throughout the year, the constellations rise and set just a little bit earlier every day. You won’t see much difference from night to night, but you will over the course of weeks or months. What we see in today’s pre-dawn sky is a preview of the early evening sky in later months. Go out before dawn this month for a look ahead at the autumn evening sky.

Just before dawn, our autumn constellations are high overhead, and winter constellation Taurus the Bull is just peeking over the horizon. Venus is now rising in the east before the Sun, and will continue as a brilliant ‘morning star’ all the way through early November.

ECLIPSE: The Sun Revealed

A very special astronomical event occurs next month! On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the United States - and Nashville is right in the path of totality! Sudekum Planetarium’s original production, ECLIPSE: The Sun Revealed, is now showing twice daily. Join us as we explore one of the most stunning sights in nature and learn how you can observe solar eclipses safely.

After the show, don’t forget stop by the ASC gift shop to pick up eclipse glasses so you can observe the partial phases of the eclipse safely!

On Wednesday, August 16 at 7:00 pm, join us and the Barnard-Seyfert Astronomical Society in the Sudekum Planetarium for a panel discussion about solar eclipses. NASA Solar System Ambassador Theo Wellington, Dr. Spencer Buckner of Austin Peay State University, and Dr. Billy Teets of Vanderbilt University will each speak and take your questions. This event is free, but please RSVP to ensure a seat. Arrive early for an optional showing of ECLIPSE: The Sun Revealed at 6:00 pm. Tickets for this showing are $8 and are available online.

On August 19-20, the Music City Solar Eclipse Festival at Adventure Science Center will be jam-packed with explorations into science and technology, fun activities and games with local organizations, live music from local musicians, chance to win great prizes, and awesome local food trucks. The Viewing Party on August 21 will cap off the fun with a chance to experience the total solar eclipse at Nashville’s premier science center. Outdoor festival activities are FREE.

800 Fort Negley Blvd. Nashville, TN 37203
Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm
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