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.

Sagittarius Nurseries

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.

Dark Center

The center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is in Sagittarius, which scoots low across the south on summer nights. We can’t see the center with our eyes because it is hidden behind clouds of dust. It takes special instruments to peer through the dust.

Subtle Glow

The glowing band of the Milky Way arches high across the sky on summer nights. At nightfall, it stretches from almost due north, high across the east, to almost due south. It stands directly overhead by midnight. You must avoid city lights to see it.

Dog Days

Mid-summer is called the Dog Days because the “dog star,” Sirius, appears near the Sun. Since Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, ancient skywatchers associated it with especially hot days.


©2014 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory