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Regulars (Sky Watch by J. Alex Knoll)

The summer Milky Way is backdrop for the Delta-Aquarid meteor shower

The moon wanes through morning skies, reaching last quarter on the 29th. That offers a chance to see the great Milky Way arcing across the heavens. You’ll need to escape any urban glare, but the reward is worth the effort. The Milky Way is our home galaxy, as well as home of all the stars you can see with the unaided eye. It encircles the globe and is visible from anywhere on earth, where we are looking edgewise into its center....

Bright pairings flank the full moon

Thursday the 18th, look to the lower left of the waxing gibbous moon for fiery Antares, the heart of Scorpius. Saturday, the near-full moon is less than 10 degrees below and to the right of Altair, the gleaming eye of Aquila the eagle and one of the three points in the Summer Triangle. Monday, the full moon blazes amid the dim stars of Capricorn. This moon is called the Buck Moon, the Thunder Moon and the Hay Moon.
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It’s not enough to break the heat

If you’re up Friday or Saturday morning before dawn, look for the waning crescent moon low in the east-northeast. Friday look for the bright star Aldebaran, the heart of Taurus the bull, positioned just above the two points of the thin crescent, while farther to the north are Mars and Jupiter just reemerged from behind the glare of the sun. Saturday morning, the dwindling sliver of moon is just a few degrees above the two planets....

Lyra the harp has star upon star hidden amid its strings

As the sun dips toward the horizon around 8:30, Venus burns through the haze of twilight low in the west. By 9pm this evening star dominates the heavens, shining at magnitude –3.8 about 10 degrees above the skyline. With a clear view below Venus and perhaps binoculars, you may be able to spot Mercury tight against the horizon within a half-hour of sunset.
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Supermoon comes just days after summer solstice

Thursday, June 20, is Midsummer’s Night, the shortest night of the year, with barely nine hours of darkness. Then, at 1:04am Friday, the sun reaches its northernmost position above the earth, marking the astronomical beginning of summer for us in the Northern Hemisphere. It is our longest day, with more than 14 hours 54 minutes of sunlight.
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The strained relationship of Cepheus and his daughter Andromeda

When we look to the night sky for father figures, we’re hard-pressed. There are heroes and rogues, serpents and dragons, birds and beasts, fish and fishermen, harps and chariots. But there is only one father among the constellations, and not a good role model at that.
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Three planets toy with the sun

This week boasts the earliest sunrises of the year, when old Sol crests the horizon at 5:41am. We’re still a couple weeks from solstice, the overall longest day of the year, and the latest sunset won’t come for another two weeks after that. Why? Several reasons, including earth’s not-quite-spherical shape, its elliptical orbit around the sun and the varying point of high noon across the globe.
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You’ll have to explore Canes Venatici

As evening twilight gives way to darkness, the first star to appear is likely no star at all but rather Venus, so bright you may be able to spot it in the west-northwest before sunset. By the time the sun does set, there should be no mistaking Venus, although the evening star does have company.
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Mercury, Venus and Jupiter gather in the glow of twilight

As the sun sets, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury emerge in its wake. These three planets will spend the coming week in one another’s company, playing a celestial game of leap-frog low in the west-northwest after sunset.
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Venus, Jupiter and Mercury are aligning in the west

The moon is at first-quarter Thursday the 16th, when it appears high in the southwest at sunset and sets around 1am. Over the next week it shifts roughly 10 degrees to the east at sunset each night, until on the 23rd, the night of full moon, it rises as the sun sets and sets the next morning as the sun rises.
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