The Big Dipper is in the northwest this evening, with the handle above the bowl. The five stars in the middle of the dipper are all related, but the stars at the tip of the handle and lip of the bowl move through the galaxy independently of the others.
Weekly Stargazing Tips
Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii). Check out last week's tips if you missed a night.
Moon and Venus
Venus is in good view at first light tomorrow. The planet shines as the brilliant “morning star,” close to the left of the beautiful crescent Moon.
A big, steaming teapot floats across the southern horizon on summer evenings: the constellation Sagittarius, the archer. To modern eyes, its brightest stars form a teapot, with the handle to the left and the spout to the right.
Hercules, which is sometimes called the kneeling giant, stands high overhead this evening. None of its stars stand out. But you can find Hercules by picking out a square pattern of stars in the giant’s stomach known as the Keystone.
The Moon is new today, so it is lost from sight as it crosses between Earth and the Sun. It will return to view in a couple of nights as a thin crescent shortly after sunset.
The star cluster M13, in the constellation Hercules, is high overhead as darkness falls. This family of hundreds of thousands of stars is visible to the unaided eye as a smudge of light. Binoculars hint at its glory, as dozens of stars pop into view.
Teapot-shaped Sagittarius is low in the south-southeast as darkness falls. With binoculars, look just above its spout for two stellar nurseries, known as M8 and M20. They look like fuzzy patches of light. New stars are taking shape in these regions.