With summer blazing across the northern hemisphere, the season’s well-known celestial markers blaze low across the southern sky. Scorpius stands low in the south as night falls, marked by its bright orange “heart,” the star Antares. Sagittarius follows it across with the sky. Its brightest stars form the outline of a teapot. And the three points of the Summer Triangle pose high in the east at nightfall and climb across the crown of the sky later on.
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In the Sky This Month
July 25: M71
The tiny arrow known as Sagitta is in the east as night falls and arcs high overhead later on. Under dark skies you can just make out the arrow, not far to the upper left of Altair, the bright star at the southern point of the Summer Triangle.
July 26: V404 Cygni
A star system in the celestial swan can’t seem to settle down. Every few decades, V404 Cygni flares to thousands of times its normal brightness, the result of likely feeding frenzies by a black hole.
July 27: Zone of Death
Stellar time bombs shine in tonight’s sky. Among the brightest are Antares, the heart of Scorpius, which is low in the south, and Deneb, the tail of the swan, in the northeast. Each will end its life with a titanic blast known as a supernova.
July 28: Moon and Jupiter
The giant planet Jupiter is quite close to the Moon tonight, and shines like a brilliant star. The true star Spica is close to their left, adding to the beautiful conjunction.
July 29: Vega
Vega, one of the brightest stars of summer nights, stands high in the sky as darkness falls this evening. It’s the brightest member of the Summer Triangle, a wide-spread pattern that’s easy to pick out even through the murky skies of a city.
July 30: Double Double
Epsilon Lyrae, a famous double-double star system, stands high in the east as darkness falls this month, in Lyra, the harp. If you have sharp eyesight, you might see Epsilon Lyrae as two stars. A telescope reveals two more of its stars.
July 31: Evening Stars
Several prominent stars highlight summer’s evening skies. Arcturus is high in the west at nightfall, with slightly fainter Vega overhead. The Big Dipper is in the northwest, and Antares, the heart of the scorpion, hunkers low in the south.