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).

August 17: Dog Days

The Dog Days of summer are either in full swing or just wrapping up. That’s because there’s no definition for the dates of the Dog Days. All we can say for sure is that they got their name from Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the night sky.

August 18: Starburst

If you can find an especially dark skywatching site as night falls, you’ll see the Milky Way arcing from teapot-shaped Sagittarius in the south, through the swan high in the east, and over to W-shaped Cassiopeia in the northeast.

August 19: Great Square

The Great Square of Pegasus stands low in the eastern sky at nightfall. It spans a large region, and is marked by the bright stars Alpheratz, Scheat, Markab, and Algenib.

August 20: Merging Galaxies

Hercules is high in the western sky on August evenings. One of its most interesting features is NGC 6052, a pair of spiral galaxies in the process of merging. Through a telescope, the galaxies look like a pair of spiders locked in mortal combat.

August 21: Vega

Vega, one of the closest and brightest stars in the night sky, stands straight overhead as darkness falls and drops to the northwest during the night. The name Vega comes from an Arabic name that means the eagle.

August 22: Aquila

Aquila, the eagle, soars high across the sky tonight, partially immersed in the glow of the Milky Way. Look beginning about an hour after sunset, when Aquila and its brightest star, Altair, are halfway up the southeastern sky.

August 23: Moon and Aldebaran

Look for the face of the bull at dawn tomorrow, to the right of the Moon. The bright star close to the Moon is Aldebaran, the bull’s eye. It moves through the galaxy alone. The other stars in the V-shaped face are members of the Hyades star cluster.