A few weeks ago NASA's Solar System Exploration outreach department received a question from a member of the public that read, in part, "If I was to go out into the night and look up at the sky, where are the Voyager spacecrafts located? I know that I can't see them, but it would be kinda neat to just be able to dream about where they are located."
NASA's Eyes on the Solar System 3D interactive is just the place to find the answer, and I had a lot of fun doing the research with this handy tool in answering the question. Once Eyes loads, double click Earth to travel to our planet; use the up and down arrow keys to adjust the zoom in or out. You might find it easier (as I do) to also turn off all spacecraft except for outer planet missions (less clutter on the screen), and don't forget to view Eyes in full screen mode (button at far right). Now that you're in space above Earth, mouse around the sky until you spot the spacecraft you're interested in. Then from the Visual Control menu at bottom left, make constellations visible on the sky, and there you have it. Here are my own results.
If you are familiar with the constellations, look to your south for the familiar shape of Scorpius, the scorpion, this summer or early fall. Just up from Scorpius is the big coffee pot-shaped constellation Ophiuchus. You can see the present location of Voyager 1 at the coffee pot's lid. Look carefully at the chart and you''ll see the locations of the Rosetta and New Horizons spacecraft traveling within our solar system. If you're not familiar with the summer constellations, join your local astronomy club some star party night and bring these charts with you. They'll be happy to point you to Ophiuchus.
To see Voyager 2's location you'll have to view from 34 degrees North latitude or further south (Los Angeles, CA to Little Rock, AR are on this latitude). If you can see the constellations Grus, Indus and Ara below Sagittarius you can see the location of Voyager 2. Southern Hemisphere stargazers will have no trouble locating these familiar southern constellations. You'll also find New Horizons near Sagittarius on the map, and Neptune is on the ecliptic right now. You can see this part of the southern sky in the fall from Los Angeles!
I'll be looking for both Voyager 1 this summer and Voyager 2 in October. I hope you join me!
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