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Michele Powers' summer stargazing

This time of year, the Big and Little dippers are easy to spot in the evening sky after dark.

Michele Powers

Jul 10, 2024, 12:54 AM

Updated 9 days ago

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Warm summer nights can be good for stargazing.
This time of year, the Big and Little dippers are easy to spot in the evening sky after dark.
You can tell it’s summer by their position in the early evening sky. Right about now, they look like they are hanging high in the north/northwest sky vertically and facing each other.
The Big and Little dippers aren’t constellations, but asterisms. Both of them are groups of stars that are pieces of other constellations in the night sky. The Big Dipper is a group of stars within the constellation Ursa Major, or Great Bear.
The Little Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Minor, or the Little Bear. The bottom pointer stars in the Big Dipper appear to point right toward Polaris, the North Star. The North Star is located in the direction of true north and sits right above the Earth’s North Pole. All the other stars appear to rotate around this star. The dippers are always visible as they are circumpolar and appear to never set below the horizon.
Another popular and easy to spot asterism this time of year is the Summer Triangle. It’s made up of three bright stars that come from three different constellations. They are Vega, Deneb and Altair. This location of this triangle also let’s us know when summer arrives. Currently it’s easy to see in the evenings in the eastern sky. When it’s seen high overhead and to the south, then it’s time for summer to end and fall to begin. The summer triangle is also a good way to find the Milky Way. That can be tough to see all the time here in the tri-state area with the light pollution. You’ll need a really dark patch of sky to see it.


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