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).

June 14: Thuban

Thuban stands due north at nightfall. The star is in Draco, the dragon, high above the Pole Star, Polaris. Thuban is hard to see under light-polluted skies. Millennia ago, it served as the Pole Star. It helped Egyptian architects align the pyramids of Giza.

 

June 15: Moon and Spica

Two egg-shaped stars form the system known as Spica, the leading light of Virgo. Spica is close to the left or lower left of the Moon as darkness falls this evening. The bright star will stand about the same distance to the right of the Moon tomorrow night.

 

June 16: Cat's Eyes

A pair of cat's eyes glows just above the northwestern horizon at nightfall: Pollux and Castor. The stars mark the heads of the constellation Gemini. Pollux is about twice as bright as Castor, which is close to its right.

 

June 17: Guardian Stars

The stars that mark the outer edge of the Little Dipper are known as the Guardians of the Pole. That's because they are not far from the Pole Star, Polaris. They circle around Polaris all night, every night, like guards on patrol.

 

June 18: Doomed Giants

Three bright stars in this evening's sky have a lot in common. Deneb, Antares, and Spica are among the biggest, brightest, and heaviest stars in the galaxy, and each will end its life with a titanic explosion known as a supernova.

 

June 19: Moon and Antares

Antares, the orange supergiant star that marks the heart of Scorpius, the scorpion, huddles quite close to the Moon at nightfall, with the gap closing as the night goes on.

 

June 20: Summer Solstice

Astronomically, today marks the start of summer in the northern hemisphere. It's the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year north of the equator. It represents a turning point for the Sun, which will begin to move southward after today.