Once you've started looking at the sky regularly, you'll probably want to get a feel for what you're looking at. Thankfully, in these days of the internet, there are a lot of fantastic options for you!
The absolute best and at the same time, the most basic website for this is the Your Sky
website. There, by inputting your location and the time you'll be outside observing, you can print off custom star charts to take outside with you. With one of these in hand, you can spot constellations, planets, whatever you like!
I cannot recommend enough that you pick up a copy of Stellarium
, the free planetarium software. It is simply amazing! Using Stellarium, you can set it for your location, then it will show you what is going on overhead. You can increase or decrease the light pollution, to make it more resemble where you are, and turn on or off the constellations, planets, nebulae, and star names. It allows you to zoom into the future or the past or get a closeup on a deep sky object. Google Sky
is another tool useful for this (and it doesn't require a download), but I believe Stellarium is better.
***Update 8/2 -- Nurdee
has suggested Celestia
as another option for astronomy software. I'm not familiar with it myself, but looking over the website, it looks pretty cool!
If you're into podcasts or audiobooks, definitely check out the excellent Astronomycast
. The hosts, Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay will spend half an hour or so talking about a specific astronomical subject, or just answering listener questions. It makes for great mp3 player material while you're spending time looking up at the stars! The 365daysofastronomy
podcast is also great, though much less focused.
I also like to read a couple of blogs to keep up to date on astronomical issues. I really like Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy
blog at discovery, he's fun and knowledgeable and clearly holds a deep wonder about the universe. Also, and this may or may not be up your alley, he got his start in blogging debunking the idiots
who think we never went to the moon, so he often tackles other scientific issues of a skeptical nature rather than just astronomy. My other favorite is Universe Today
, where you will find a wealth of excellent and interesting articles about all things astronomical--the publisher is Fraser Cain, the same guy who co-hosts Astronomycast.
I'm only passingly familiar with one astronomical video show, the IRrelevant show
from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope team. What I've seen is really good, I just don't sit down to watch video all that often. Can anyone recommend a really good internet show about astronomy?
If you're more interested in physical media, definitely make a trip to the library. I have particularly enjoyed The Urban Astronomer
, it has been helpful for me, living in a very light polluted area. Also, don't be embarrassed to peruse the kid's section! There are a lot of great books there to help out beginners!