BBC Sky at Night Magazine Virtual Events

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Observing Masterclass webinar

Observing Masterclass Series

As the evenings draw in and the nights lengthen, join host and editor Chris Bramley for a three-part series of online masterclasses on stargazing.

The three sessions will cover stars and constellations, observing the landscape of the Moon, and viewing the planets.

As the dark-sky season begins, the three sessions will help you find your feet observing the night sky and reveal fascinating naked-eye, binocular and small telescope views of our cosmos that will enchant you this autumn and winter.

You can book each Masterclass individually for £15 or save £9 when you book all three at once.

 Masterclass 1

The stars and constellations of autumn and winter

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Observing Masterclass 1
  • Speaker: Scott Levine
  • When: Thursday 29 September, 7pm BST

As the evenings lengthen it’s a great time to get to know the night sky better, but if you’re new to astronomy where do you start?

Our first webinar in the series will set you up for the coming dark sky season, with a run-down of the prominent stars and constellations that are on view throughout the autumn and winter months.

Long-time American sky-watcher Scott Levine will be joining us live to describe how to get the best views of the ever-changing cosmos with the naked-eye and binoculars, and taking a closer look at some of the deep-space treasures that small telescopes can reveal.


  • Acclimatising yourself for a night under the stars
  • Orientating yourself to the view
  • The key signposts in the sky and how to star-hop between them
  • The constellations of autumn and winter skies
  • Asterisms, and how they are they different to constellations
  • Our home in space, the Milky Way
  • Top targets for binoculars and small telescopes: double stars, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies

Book onto this Masterclass for £15 or save £9 when you book all three at once.

About the speaker

Scott Levine is a long-time amateur astronomer based in New York’s Hudson Valley, in the northeast of the United States. He’s been hooked on observing the night sky ever since he got his first view of Saturn as a kid, and writes regularly for us at BBC Sky at Night Magazine, as well as for Sky & Telescope and other publications in the US.

 Masterclass 2

The Moon: Up close with our celestial neighbour

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Observing Masterclass 2
  • Speaker: Charlotte Daniels
  • When: Thursday 27 October, 7pm BST

As an ever-present companion to our planet in the night skies, the Moon has captivated humankind for centuries, and this talk with amateur astronomer and astrophotographer Charlotte Daniels will take us on an ever-closer tour.

We’ll look at what you can see with your eyes alone and get to grips with the monthly cycle of phases, before revealing how to use this gradual illumination to get stunning views of the lunar surface with binoculars.

We’ll also zoom in on some of the top sights to see up close with small and medium aperture telescopes, and revel in the startlingly varied detail that can be picked out with a magnified view.


  • Lunar phases and path through the stars explained
  • Why we actually see a little more than one side to the Moon
  • Upcoming meetings of the Moon and planets that can’t be missed
  • Explaining the view of the Moon through a telescope
  • Craters deep, mountains high: seeing the lunar terrain with small to medium telescopes
  • How to tell when the best time to see features on the Moon

Book onto this Masterclass for £15 or save £9 when you book all three at once.

About the speaker

A journalist by training, amateur astronomer Charlotte Daniels is also an experienced astrophotographer and image processor, and reviews telescopes and other observing kit for BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

Masterclass 3

The planets, from points of light to detailed discs

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Observing Masterclass 3
  • Speaker: Will Gater
  • When: Thursday 1 December, 7pm GMT

Planet Earth is not alone in the Solar System: we share our home star, the Sun, with the seven other worlds that also orbit it. But how do you get started exploring the wonders these worlds have to offer?

In this talk, astronomer and author Will Gater will shine a light on how to identify planets in the night sky and how binoculars and telescopes can bring more details into view on these far-off worlds.

PLUS we’ll also be investigating the rare and not-to-be-missed planetary event taking place just a week after this talk on 8 December, when the full Moon will appear to pass in front of Mars, the Red Planet, and block it from view, in an event known as a lunar occultation.


  • The naked-eye planets and how to find and identify them
  • Elongations and oppositions: the key planetary observing terms to know
  • What you can expect to see through binoculars, and small and medium-aperture telescopes
  • Studying the globes of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn
  • Observing the more challenging ice giants
  • Dates for your diary: the best times to see each planet this winter
  • The Moon meets Mars: December’s rare lunar occultation of the Red Planet

Book onto this Masterclass for £15 or save £9 when you book all three at once.

About the speaker

Will Gater is an astronomer, author and presenter with a lifelong love of observing the night sky. He has toured the UK with a live theatre show about the Solar System, and has written many popular books on astronomy and stargazing.

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