Summer Constellations | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Summer is a good time to do a little stargazing, and we’re heading for a new moon on the 29th, so if the skies are clear, stargazing should be pretty good for the next two weeks.

There are of course many constellations to see, but Scorpius (the scorpion) is one of the most remarkable. It can be seen in the southern sky at dusk and will move slowly across the southern horizon until it disappears in the southwest around 3 a.m.

Scorpius is shaped like a hook with the eye of the hook at the top right, then reaches down and to the left towards the hook that faces up. To visualize the scorpion, start with the heart which is the star Antares. It is the sixteenth brightest star in the sky. Once you find Antares, you can visualize the scorpion facing west. The head is at the top right of Antares and consists of three stars arranged almost vertically. To the lower left of Antares is the rest of the body, ending with the tail which curls over the top of the body.

There are several stories in Greek mythology about Orion, one of which is that Orion is killed by a scorpion. Orion boasted that he could kill all the animals on earth. Gaea, the Earth Goddess then sent a scorpion after Orion to protect the animals in case Orion tried to kill the animals. A battle finally began, with the scorpion killing Orion. Orion and Scorpius are now placed in the skies on either side of the sky to avoid any possibility of rematch.

Once you find Scorpius, you should be able to find Sagittarius (the archer) following Scorpius around the night sky. Sagittarius is imagined as a centaur facing west, or right, with his bow drawn at Scorpius. You will notice that the arrow points to Antares which you may recall represents the heart of the scorpion.

The night sky is full of things to see. So take the time this summer to observe the stars. There are many resources available to help you navigate the night sky, such as your local library, bookstores, as well as the Internet. Then, find a dark place on a clear, warm night, lie down and take in the celestial spectacle.

Comments are closed.