Spotting the Summer Sky: An Introduction to Seasonal Constellations
The summer sky is always a spectacular sight to behold. It is during this season that celestial enthusiasts and amateur astronomers come out to bask in the mesmerizing view of the constellation-filled sky. Although every constellation has its unique beauty, some constellations are only visible during the summer months. Here is an introduction to some of the most iconic seasonal constellations that you can spot during a clear summer night sky.
The Big Dipper and Little Dipper
Arguably the most recognizable and commonly viewed constellation in the northern hemisphere, the Big Dipper and its companion, the Little Dipper, are both prominent features in the summer sky. The seven stars that make up the Big Dipper, also known as Ursa Major, form a ladle-like shape that is easy to spot. The Little Dipper or Ursa Minor features Polaris, also known as the North Star that stays stationary in the sky, making it an excellent point of reference for navigation.Scorpius
One of the most striking constellations in the summer sky is Scorpius, the scorpion. It features the brightest star in the sky, Antares, which is a supergiant 700 times bigger than our sun. To spot Scorpius, look south on a clear night and find the distinctive "J" shape that forms its stinger. The rest of the constellation extends upwards in a graceful curve, making it a breathtaking view to behold.Lyra
Lyra is one of the smallest summer constellations, but its beauty can't be underestimated. Its most striking feature is Vega, the fifth brightest star in the sky, and one of the cornerstones of the Summer Triangle, which also features stars from Cygnus and Aquila. Lyra can be seen in the northeast sky and is most visible in mid-July through August.Cygnus
The constellation Cygnus, also known as the Northern Cross, is one of the most prominent features of the summer sky. Its brightest star, Deneb, is one of the cornerstones of the Summer Triangle mentioned earlier. Cygnus represents a swan in flight, with its wingspan spanning across two-thirds of the sky. It is located in the northeastern part of the sky and is most visible in August during the evening hours.
With just a pair of binoculars and a clear night sky, you can easily spot these iconic seasonal constellations that make the summer sky so enchanting. Take the time to marvel at their beauty and contemplate the vastness of the universe.