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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

June 22: Eltanin

Eltanin, an Arabic name that means “the serpent,” is the brightest star of Draco, the dragon, which is high in the north on summer evenings. Eltanin is as bright as the nearby North Star, Polaris.

June 21: Odd Ophiuchus

Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, passes high across the south tonight, above Sagittarius and Scorpius. Ophiuchus is the only one of the 13 constellations along the Sun’s path that is not a member of the zodiac.

June 20: Summer Solstice

Summer begins tonight in the northern hemisphere, when the Sun stands farthest north for the year — a moment known as the summer solstice. The season lasts until the September equinox, when the Sun crosses the equator from north to south.

June 19: Moon and Venus

Venus, the brilliant “morning star,” will stand to the left of the Moon at first light tomorrow, and about the same distance to the upper right of the Moon on Wednesday.

June 18: Approaching Summer

Summer arrives on Tuesday night, with the summer solstice. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the longest days of the year here in the United States — the greatest intervals between sunrise and sunset.

June 17: Sunrise and Sunset

The timekeeper for the United States, the Naval Observatory, defines sunrise and sunset as the moments when the center of the Sun is physically 50 minutes of arc below the horizon, which is less than the width of your finger held at arm’s length.

June 16: Big Changes

Hydra, the water snake, slithers quite low across the southwest at nightfall. One of its treasures is the binary system V Hydra. Its main star is old and puffed up. It expels gas into space, which the second star grabs, then shoots out like cannonballs.