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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

July 24: Southern Sky

Many amateur astronomers turn their telescopes toward the south on summer evenings. The region of the sky around Sagittarius and Scorpius contains some prominent star clusters, which are popular targets.

July 23: Wild Duck Cluster

The star cluster Messier 11 is more than 6,000 light-years away, in the constellation Scutum, the shield. The cluster’s brightest stars outline the letter V, which resembles a flight of wild ducks. So M11 is also known as the Wild Duck Cluster.

July 22: Scutum

A small, faint “shield” of stars climbs high across the south tonight. Scutum represents the coat of arms on the shield of John Sobieski, a 17th-century king of Poland and one of that country’s national heroes.

July 21: One Month Away

A spectacular total solar eclipse is just one month away. It will be visible across a narrow path that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, with the rest of the United States seeing a partial eclipse.

July 20: Lagoon Nebula

The Lagoon Nebula is visible low in the southern sky tonight. To find it, look south around 10 p.m. for Sagittarius, a pattern of stars that forms a teapot. The Lagoon Nebula is visible through a small telescope just above the teapot’s spout.

July 19: Moon and Venus

Beautiful Venus, the brilliant “morning star,” stands close to the upper left of the Moon at dawn tomorrow. The planet is brighter than any other object in the night sky other than the Moon, so it’s hard to miss.

July 18: Moon and Companions

The Moon is closing in on two bright points of light in the dawn sky: the star Aldebaran and the planet Venus. Aldebaran stands to the lower left of the Moon at first light tomorrow, with Venus, the “morning star,” farther along the same line.