Summertime Sights 2

Last week I started our summer sky tour with two easy sights: Polaris and the Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb, and Altair).  Then two more challenging objects – a couple of globular clusters – M92 & M13. I noticed when looking at the sky chart, my instruction for M92 & M13 is dependent on facing north. If you tried and could not find them, try it while facing north.

This week and next we dive into the southern sky. I know, the southern sky has a dome of light pollution interfering with the view. We’ll have to live with it until our cities and communities everywhere take action to curtail irresponsible outdoor nighttime lighting practices. For more information go to .

I strongly suggest you find a spot away from any bright light: behind the shed, a large shrub, any place in shadow. This will make your experience better.

The southern sky in summer is a treasure chest.  If you have them grab binoculars. If you have one, grab a spotting scope or telescope. Even a rifle scope will work.

Be aware that a telescope will probably have a view that’s not the same up and down or left and right as binoculars or spotting scope.

Well after nightfall look to the south. The impressive constellation Scorpius is up. Look for its heart, the bright orange star Antares. The word Antares derives from Greek, meaning rival of Mars, because to the naked eye it looks like Mars. Once you find Antares look to its upper right and see three bright stars in a line. That’s the head. Following stars back past Antares you can make out the rest of Scorpius’s serpentine body and even its two-star stinger.

With binoculars, focus on Antares.  To its right within the binocular field is M4, a globular cluster. Look carefully, it will appear as a dim smudge compared with Antares. If you use a spotter or telescope, use lowest power. You might have to move the scope a little bit to see M4. Once you get M4 in the field bump the power up to get a closer view.

Staying in Scorpius, follow its body down to where it bends sharply to the left. Just above the star at the bend, named Zeta 1 is NGC 6231. It’s a nice open cluster of stars forming the head of what’s called the “False Comet”, also called the “Northern Jewell Box”. In binoculars the spreading tail, also known as the “Prawn Nebula”, diffuse nebula IC 4628, should be in the same field of view to the upper left. Bear in mind these objects will be a bit dim so take your time and let your eyes adjust.

Next week, Sagittarius.

What’s in the Sky?

June 26-27; an hour before dawn; east: The pre-dawn show continues with a waning crescent Moon joining in. On the 26th it will be left of Venus, making a triangle with Venus and the Pleiades above them. It will be even thinner and left of Mercury on the 27th.