30 June 2012

Summer looking South-West

Now that the summer constellations have fully emerged, I am enjoying the sparkling views at night as I look from one horizon to the next. Last week I focused on the eastern horizon while conducting a Star Party at Mt. Tam, but the next night I was in my yard viewing the south-western sky, and was so amazed by the view.

South-West Sky in June
In early summer, Leo is diving down toward the western horizon, with the familiar lion shape almost face-down. Mars has been steadily moving eastward across the ecliptic, from its springtime position near Regulus in Leo, now more than half-way to Spica in Virgo and a lineup with Saturn in August.

Bright Spica and Regulus, with the planets Saturn and Mars between them, create a beautiful string of bright shiny objects low along the south-west, and from my backyard in San Francisco, the view to the south-west is fairly dark, so everything was just right in the sky as I gazed in that direction. To the left (east) Scorpius is coming up into view and later in the evening dominates the southern horizon -- but I'll have more on that in a future post. And directly above, you can enjoy the dazzling star Arcturus and the lovely Northern Crown just nearby (Corona Borealis - - read more here). Just below Virgo is the easy-to-spot constellation Corvus. The sky is full of wonder, and summer weather makes it more fun and relaxing to see the sky. Wherever travels take you this summer, dedicate an evening to star gazing and reward your senses with the beauty of the heavens.

Image courtesy of SkySafari.

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