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.

Fireworks

A pair of brilliant lights are in good view well before twilight drains from the western sky this evening. The planets Venus and Jupiter stand side by side. Venus is the brighter of the two. Regulus, the heart of Leo, stands close to their upper left.

Earth at Aphelion

Earth will stand farthest from the Sun for the entire year tomorrow afternoon, at a distance of more than 94 million miles, or about three million miles farther than we were in January.

Steady Sun

If the Sun were to suddenly wink out of existence (which is impossible, by the way), we wouldn’t know it for more than eight minutes. The Sun is 93 million miles away, and it takes light more than eight minutes to cross that distance.

Keystone

A wedge-shaped pattern of stars known as the Keystone stands high overhead late this evening in Hercules. It stands to the upper right of Vega, one of the brightest stars in the summer sky.

Last-Quarter Moon

The Moon is at last-quarter at 3:24 p.m. CDT. The Moon stands at a right angle to the line from Earth to the Sun, so sunlight illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way.

Trifid

The Trifid Nebula is a glowing cloud of gas and dust in teapot-shaped Sagittarius, which scoots low across the south on summer nights. A young star at the center of the nebula is triggering the births of more than 100 other stars.

Epsilon Lyrae

The double star Epsilon Lyrae is easy to find because it is close to the bright star Vega, which shines high in the east at nightfall and overhead around midnight. Epsilon Lyrae is a short distance from Vega. Binoculars reveal its double nature.

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