Last Week's Stargazing Tips

July 28: Dog Days

The “dog days” of summer are upon us. They get their name from the Dog Star, Sirius. The brightest star in the night sky, it is immersed in the Sun’s glare at this time of year. Because of that, ancient skywatchers named this period in the star’s honor.

July 27: Noctilucent Clouds

If you live at high northern latitudes, you may see some eerie clouds at this time of year. They show up in deep twilight, and shine electric blue. Known as noctilucent clouds, they are formed by particles of meteor dust high in the atmosphere.

July 26: Moon, Saturn, Antares

The gibbous Moon anchors a pretty triangle this evening. The triangle’s other points are the planet Saturn, which is to the right of the Moon, and the star Antares, about the same distance below the Moon.

July 25: Moon and Saturn

The stately planet Saturn accompanies the Moon across the sky tonight. It is close to the lower left of the Moon at nightfall, and looks like a bright star. The bright orange star Antares is close by as well, farther to Saturn’s lower left.

July 24: Galactic Edge

On these warm summer nights, the shimmering band of light called the Milky Way drapes across the sky. Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant first recognized this band of light for what it is 250 years ago: the edge-on view of our own galaxy of stars.

July 23: Cassiopeia

The constellation Cassiopeia, the queen, is well up in the north-northeast at nightfall right now. Its brightest stars form a sideways letter M or W.

July 22: Moon and Spica

The Moon is near first quarter tonight, so sunlight illuminates almost half of the lunar disk. It is in the south as darkness falls, and sets a few hours later. Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, stands close to the left of the Moon.

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