Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

July 25: Scutum

The constellation Scutum stands to the upper left of teapot-shaped Sagittarius as night falls. Under dark skies, you can see that it is enwrapped in the hazy veil of the Milky Way.

July 26: Delta Aquarid Meteors

The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is at its best this week. Its “shooting stars” appear to rain into Earth’s atmosphere from the constellation Aquarius. The meteors can appear in any direction, however, so it is best to scan the entire sky.

July 27: North Star

Polaris, the North Star, always stands due north and is always at the same altitude in the sky. That altitude tells you your latitude in the northern hemisphere. If you’re at 40 degrees, for example, Polaris is 40 degrees above the horizon.

July 28: Vanishing Act

The crescent Moon cozies up to the star Aldebaran before dawn tomorrow. In fact, as seen from parts of the United States, the Moon will get especially cozy. It will “occult” the star, passing directly in front of it and blocking it from view.

July 29: Milky Way

The glowing band of the Milky Way arches high across the sky on these mid-summer nights. At nightfall, it stretches from almost due north, high across the east, to almost due south. You need to get away from the glow of city lights to see it.

July 30: M22

M22, a cluster of a half-million stars, stands above teapot-shaped Sagittarius, which wheels low across the south tonight. Under dark skies, M22 looks like a faint, hazy star. It is about 10,000 light-years away.

July 31: Sun Walk

We can see where the Sun is headed over the next few months by following some bright lights across the early evening sky: the planet Jupiter, the star Spica, and the planets Mars and Saturn. These dots lie along the Sun’s path, known as the ecliptic.