Northern Hemisphere Style
Well, it’s high summer here north of the equator, and for those of you without incessant rains coming down from the sky, the stars must be lookin’ pretty good right about now. I always like to go out and look for Sagittarius, which from my latitude is pretty far south and the tail just grazes the horizon. There’s a lot of stuff out that way — the center of the Milky Way lies in that direction, and so do a number of nice star clusters and some nebulae. It’s one of my favorite places to look with binoculars. The Milky Way also skims right over head later in the evening, and if I can find a spot in the grass without chiggers or mites or skeeters (mossies, for those of you in Australia), it’s really rewarding to lay back and just gaze at that (with or without binoculars).
I remember as a kid doing that “laying in the grass and looking up at the skies thing” and trying to count stars. An impossible task. There are a few thousand, not counting the ones you’d need magnification to see (either too dim or too far away or too crowded together in clusters and the Milky Way). But, don’t let that stop you from trying.
Here’s a challenge for you: get out there every night and look up. Just do it. No excuses. Get a star chart (if you don’t have one, get one here: Skymaps. Print it out, study it. Then go out there and use it to identify a constellation or two. Maybe some bright stars. If you’re daring, you might see if you can find some clusters. They’re out there. And if the weather is good for you (warm, dry, comfy), try it every night. Go on do it. I dare ya. Me? I’ll do it, too. But first I have to find some clear skies. It’s been raining here for a week. And, for the next seven days, I’ll be absorbed in moving to a new house. But, I’ll check in with you, to make sure you’re stargazing. Watching the stars is free — and, as they say — in this economy — free is good.