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EarthSky’s top 10 tips for super stargazers

Photo credit: Computer Science Geek

Photo credit: Computer Science Geek

Stargazing is for everybody. It’s for people who like seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture … people with a sense of wonder … people who just like being outside at night. Maybe that’s you. If so, here are some tips to help you get started.

M6 and M7: Deep-sky gems in Tail of Scorpius

Your binoculars are perfect for finding M6 and M7, assuming you have a dark sky.  They fit within a single binocular field of view.  Image via starrynighteducation.com.

Your binoculars are perfect for finding M6 and M7, assuming you have a dark sky. They fit within a single binocular field of view. Image via starrynighteducation.com.

On summer evenings, look for a gorgeous pair of star clusters near the Tail of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. They are M6 (Butterfly Cluster) and M7 (Ptolemy’s Cluster). M6 and M7 may well be northern summer’s finest clusters. To appreciate them, you need a dark sky. Binoculars enhance the view. Follow the links inside to learn more.

Earth farthest from sun for 2015 on July 6

Image via earthtimes.com

Image via earthtimes.com

Planet Earth reaches its most distant point from the sun for 2015 on July 6, at 19:41 UTC. That’s 2:41 p.m. Central Daylight Time in the U.S. Given that Earth is farthest from the sun every year in early July, then why is it so hot outside for us in the N. Hemisphere? Answer just a click away….

Summer Triangle: Altair and Aquila the Eagle

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In the east after dark, near the horizon, Altair, the brightest star in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle, springs into view. This is the bottom star of the Summer Triangle. In the sky, you’ll see that this bright star has a slightly fainter star on either side.

Summer Triangle: Deneb and Cygnus the Swan

Summer Triangle captured on July 9, 2012 – by EarthSky Facebook friend Annie Lewis in Madrid, Spain. Thanks, Annie.

Tonight’s chart has you looking eastward at the famous Summer Triangle. Deneb is the northernmost star in the Summer Triangle. Its constellation is Cygnus the Swan. In a dark country sky, you can see that Cygnus is flying along the starlit trail of the summer Milky Way.

Scorpius? Here’s your constellation

The constellation Scorpius and the <a href='http://earthsky.org/favorite-star-patterns/teapot-of-sagittarius-points-to-galactic-center

The constellation Scorpius.

Scorpius the Scorpion – the southernmost constellation of the Zodiac – is a major showpiece of the starry sky. The constellation is easy to find. It looks like its namesake. Follow the links inside to learn more.

Summer Triangle: Vega and its constellation Lyra

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More than any other month, July is the month of the Summer Triangle, made up of the brilliant stars Vega, Deneb and Altair. The brightest triangle star is Vega in the constellation Lyra. Vega is blue-white in color. It’s sometimes called the Harp Star.

Antares is Heart of the Scorpion

Red star Antares, right, and nearby star cluster M4 via StargazerBob.com@aol.com

Red star Antares, right, and nearby star cluster M4 via StargazerBob.com@aol.com

Bright reddish Antares – also known as Alpha Scorpii – is easy to spot on a summer night. It is the brightest star – and distinctly reddish in color – in the fishhook-shaped pattern of stars known as the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. Follow the links inside to learn more about this wonderful star.

Find M4, a globular cluster by the Scorpion’s heart

Messier 4 or M4 from European Southern Observatory.

Messier 4 or M4 from European Southern Observatory.

At nightfall, look in your southern sky for the bright ruddy star that is called the Scorpion’s Heart – Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. Antares is always up on summer evenings. It’s a bright red star known for twinkling rapidly. If you have binoculars, sweep for an object near Antares on the sky’s dome. This object is called M4, and it’s a globular star cluster located just one degree to the west of Antares.

Blue Moon of July 2015 and future Blue Moons

Image credit: Tim Geers

Image credit: Tim Geers

Image credit: Tim Geers

The first of two July 2015 full moons falls today, on July 2. The second full moon of the month comes on July 31, 2015, and by popular acclaim, this full moon is known as a blue moon. Read about the blue moon and the 19-year Metonic cycle inside . . .

Every nineteen years, the phases of the moon recur on or near the same calendar dates. This is the Metonic cycle. Therefore, nineteen years from now, in 2034, we’ll again have two full moons in July 2034 and another blue moon on July 31, 2034.