29 June 2017

The Summer Sky Awaits

The magnificent summer sky awaits, with dazzling views into our home galaxy, a host of first magnitude stars that enhance some of the finest constellations in the night sky, planets that shimmer in a telescope or binoculars, a meteor shower, and of course this year only (!) a Great Eclipse.

The Milky Way: although the cloudy band of stars that make up the central plane of our home galaxy is not visible in cities, binoculars still reveal many of the fine structures to be found in the Milky Way, albeit less spectacular and colorful than the dark sky view. Nonetheless, a leisurely tour from due south (between Scorpius and Sagittarius) to zenith (directly overhead) will reveal numerous clusters, nebulae and colourful groupings of stars.

Summer Highlights (click to expand)
First Magnitude Stars: The Summer Triangle features Vega, Deneb and Altair in a bright triangle rising from the east to tower overhead in mid-summer. Other top-10 stars include Arcturus and blue-white Spica in the west and orange-red Antares in the south. 

Planets That Shimmer: Jupiter continues to dominate the southwest sky, gradually moving toward the west as summer wears on. Saturn, just past opposition and glowing a bright milky white near Antares, is visible nearly all night tracing out a low arc across the southern sky from east to west. 

A Meteor Shower: the Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on Aug 11-12, and the waxing moon will be a distraction but not a particularly bad one given the circumstances. It's always a pleasure to find a dark spot and a blanket or easy chair for enjoying the bright flashes and streaks of light that punctuate the warm summer night. 

A Great Eclipse: Need I say more? So much has been written about this once-in-a-lifetime event on August 21st already but if you can't get enough then check out this website. And just do it. Drive to the Centerline. Really. 

Enjoy the many highlights the summer has to offer! 

Image courtesy of Universe2Go