Summer stars rise as winter stars set

Sunday April 29, 2012

Special to The Eagle

Warm weather stars are about to overtake the riveting lights of winter nights. While Sirius, the brightest true star in the sky, and nearby reddish Betelgeuse are poised above the southwestern horizon at about 8:30 p.m., the first star of the Summer Triangle, Vega, is rising in the northeast.

Just north of west, the direction of sunset, find brilliant planet Venus. Trace a diagonal line down and to the left to Betelgeuse, the shoulder star of Orion the Hunter; continue down to Sirius, the shoulder star of the Big Dog. By 9 p.m. the three stars of Orion’s belt are parallel to the horizon to the right of Sirius, soon to disappear.

Stunning blue-white Vega, now above the opposite horizon, is third brightest of all stars visible in the Northern Hemisphere. Vega follows second brightest, red-orange Arcturus, and 11th place Spica into the springtime evening sky.

These are the final days of Global Astronomy Month (GAM) (, a celebration of our relationship to the cosmos. GAM2012 draws attention to how lack of access to dark skies limits the human experience of contact with the universe by curtailing enjoyment and study of celestial phenomena.

In the spirit of Earth Day Everyday and GAM2012, we encourage readers to learn how individuals and communities can act to minimize light pollution.

Contact the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) at and the Dark Sky Society (www.dark



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