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Bright Lights

StarDate: 
July 16, 2016

If you’re looking to appreciate the faint beauty of the Milky Way, or perhaps catch some shooting stars, then the next few nights are likely to be a disappointment. That’s because the bright Moon gets in the way. It’ll be full on Tuesday, so it already fills the sky with its light. And it’s in view for most of the night. That just doesn’t leave much time to enjoy the subtleties of the night sky.

Fortunately, though, there are plenty of bright lights to shine through the pesky moonlight.

Three of those lights line up to the right of the Moon as darkness falls tonight. The planet Saturn is closest to the Moon. Antares — the supergiant star at the heart of the scorpion — is close below Saturn. And the brilliant planet Mars dazzles farther to their right. You might be able to make out its orange color even through the moonlight.

As these objects shine low in the south, another bright grouping stands high in the east: the Summer Triangle.

The brightest of its three stars is at the top of the triangle: Vega, in the constellation Lyra, the harp. It’s one of the brightest stars of summer nights, so you just can’t miss it.

Deneb, at the tail of Cygnus, the swan, stands to the lower left of Vega. And the triangle’s third point, to the lower right of the other two, is Altair. It’s in another bird, Aquila, the eagle.

These and several other bright stars and planets provide plenty to enjoy in the summer night sky — even through the moonlight.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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